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Coral reefs in danger? Robots to rescue!

By Leonard Ho - Posted Aug 27, 2012 08:00 AM
When you hear "coral reef restoration" and "high tech," naturally you think Scotland, right? No? Well, this news may change your mind. Scottish scientists are developing an army of small “coralbots" to autonomously search for damaged coral fragments and attach them to hard substrate.
Coral reefs in danger?  Robots to rescue!

A human diver gluing coral fragments to the reef may soon be thing of past if "coralbots" come to fruition. Photo credit: NOAA

Coral Search and Rescue

Like sci-fi nanobots swarming to repair the human body, Scottish scientists have set out to design a team of submersible robots that automatically identifies broken coral fragments and cements them to rocky substrates, giving the frags a much higher chance of maturing into full colonies. Such coral outplanting is currently performed by divers and thus limited in depth and time humans can submerge using conventional scuba equipment.  "Coralbots" could enable large scale, continuous, and fully automated outplanting operations in virtually any location where coral reefs need a helping hand.

Professor David Corne is the team's design leader in charge of programming the robot behavior to function as one collective "swarm intelligence" in order to recognize and secure coral fragments damaged by natural events such as hurricanes or anthropogenic events like bottom trawling.

Robots: Is there anything they can't do?


Author: Leonard Ho
Location: Southern California

I'm a passionate aquarist of over 30 years, a coral reef lover, and the blog editor for Advanced Aquarist. While aquarium gadgets interest me, it's really livestock (especially fish), artistry of aquariums, and "method behind the madness" processes that captivate my attention.


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