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?


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