Image credit – Worcester Polytechnic Institute


It is funny how it seems that nature was designed to allow everything to live in harmony with each other, where each living being seems to have a purpose in the ecosystem. However sometimes it doesn’t always work out that way, like the lionfish who has been known to wreak havoc on the coral reefs.

Protecting the coral reefs against lionfish is dangerous work for humans due to the venom they carry in their spines, but students at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute (via Engadget) have developed a robot that wields a set of spears that could be used to remotely guard coral reefs against lionfish and other invasive species.

While using robots to harvest lionfish aren’t new, the researchers point out how they need to be tethered to an operator, which in turn could actually end up damaging the reefs they were supposed to protect. The robot that they created will instead be able to hunt for lionfish on their own, in which it will then attempt to hunt it down and spear it.

Once it has been speared, the spear will be released and thanks to the use of a buoyant spear tip, it will float to the surface of the water in which it could then be collected. According to Craig Putnam, senior instructor in computer science and associate director of WPI’s Robotics Engineering Program, “The goal is to be able to toss the robot over the side of a boat and have it go down to the reef, plot out a course, and begin its search. It needs to set up a search pattern and fly along the reef, and not run into it, while looking for the lionfish. The idea is that the robots could be part of the environmental solution.”

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