For the fifth year in a row, the Great Barrier Reef has scored a D-rating for its overall health.

But a robot developed by QUT is offering hope of some improvement.

It can poison and kill the dreaded Crown of Thorns starfish, a job previously done by hand.

Maudy Veltema reports.


This is the COTSbot Robot.

Dr Matthew Dunbabin and Dr Feras Dayoub say their robot is unique, because it observes and interacts with the environment … and it is much more effective.

Dr Matthew Dunbabin, QUT Roboticist: “The old solution you had to inject up to 20 times. This particular solution you can inject once and it will kill the starfish.”

Dr Matthew Dunbabin, QUT Roboticist: “Okay, okay injecting got it”

The COTSbot’s state of the art technology, will make the diver’s work much easier.

Dr Feras Dayoub, QUT Researcher: “So the detection system on board the robot looks for shape. structure and colour to identify the cots in the coral”

The two developers are now working with the Great Barrier Reef Foundation to transform COTSbot into RangerBot- a multifunction robot for monitoring a wide range of issues.

Dr Matthew Dunbabin, QUT researcher: “For example coral bleaching or other coral damage and all sorts of things”

It’s not just inventions like COTSbot that puts QUT on the frontlione of robotics.

It’s both under water and on the land.

This fully-autonomous robot, Agbot II, is an exciting development for agriculture.

It has sensors, software and other electronics which allow it to navigate through a field, detect and classify weeds and then kill them either mechanically or chemically.

It can even apply fertiliser.

Maudy Veltema, QUT news.