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Drone Battles Starfish to save the great Barrier Reef

It’s a safe bet that when it comes to threat assessments, starfish aren’t going to top any lists. They’re sea creatures that don’t have a fang to their name, so it’s not as if they’re going to drag any innocent swimmers into the deep. But as it turns out, starfish have become more dangerous than anyone could have guessed — and it’s up to a dive-happy drone to handle them.

Thankfully, people’s lives aren’t on the line; unfortunately, the environment is. Australia has seen overpopulation of crown-of-thorns starfish recently, which in turn led to them eating away at the Great Barrier Reef en masse — and if that disappeared, then it would cripple habitats and industries alike. To combat them efficiently, researchers have deployed the COTSbot for field tests; with its cameras, GPS, and sensors, it can find hundreds of starfish in one trek.

In all fairness, COTSbot acts more like a hitman than some gentlemanly duelist. Once it finds an invading starfish, it uses a pneumatic injection arm to force deadly amounts of bile salts into their bodies. Given that, it has the potential to act much more efficiently in a starfish search than divers — and as grim as it may be to kill off so many of them, this may be a case where the end justifies the means.

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Juicy: Drone Battles Starfish to save the great Barrier Reef
Drone Battles Starfish to save the great Barrier Reef
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