‘Crop duster’ robot is helping reseed the Great Barrier Reef with coral

In a world first, an undersea robot developed by Australia’s Queensland University of Technology has delivered microscopic coral larvae to the Great Barrier Reef to help with its respawning. The breakthrough demonstration of the Larvalbot robot — which we first wrote about earlier this year — is a proof-of-concept which could one day be used to help rescue dying coral reefs around the world.

“This innovative project aims to increase the scale and efficiency of delivering microscopic coral larvae directly onto damaged sections of reefs, where many corals were killed during the 2016 and 2017 mass coral bleaching events,” Professor Peter Harrison, one of the chief investigators who helped lead the research, told Digital Trends. “The reason we need to do this is that the Great Barrier Reef, like most coral reefs around the world, is suffering from an ongoing loss of corals that are the foundation of these spectacularly beautiful and highly valuable coral reef systems. We need to intervene to increase the efficiency of restoring coral communities because many of these impacted reefs now have too few adult spawning corals left alive to recover naturally.”

larvalbot robot mission undersea great barrier reef underwater
QUT

Lavalbot is an aquatic robot, described by its creators as being akin to an “underwater crop duster.” It can be controlled from dry land using an iPad, which allows for its pilots to decide when the stream of coral larvae is pushed out. However, it could also operate autonomously using a bevy of onboard sensors. In its recent mission, it carried around 100,000 coral larvae. Over time, the plan is for this to be increased to millions.

So was the recent mission a success? “The larvae are microscopic — less than 1 millimeter long — so we can’t see the settled polyps on reef areas until they survive and grow to at least six to nine months old, when they usually become visible on the reef,” Harrison said. But all signs point the mission being a resounding success.

As for the next phase of the project, Harrison said that the team will be using Larvalbot as a part of similar reef restoration initiative in the Philippines in early 2019. It will then return to the Great Barrier Reef for its biggest mission to date later in the year.

Smart Home

The robot invasion arrived at CES 2019 — and it was cuter than we expected

Robots are finally at our doorsteps, but they’re not here to annihilate us (yet), they’re here to be our friends. CES 2019 showed us some of the cutest robots we’ve ever seen. Here are some of our favorites.
Emerging Tech

A Japanese hotel fires half its robot staff for being bad at their jobs

Japan’s oddball Henn na Hotel has fired half of its 243 robot staff. The reason? Because these labor-saving machines turned out to be causing way more problems than they were solving.
Emerging Tech

Ford’s sweaty robot bottom can simulate 10 years of seat use in mere days

Ford has developed 'Robutt,' a sweaty robot bottom that's designed to simulate the effects of having a pair of human buttocks sitting on its car seats for thousands of hours. Check it out.
Smart Home

Robotics company Trifo activates A.I.-based Ironpie robo-vacuum at CES 2019

Trifo may have given the Ironpie robot vacuum a whimsical name based on appearance, but the home robotics company cast whimsy aside when it described the A.I.-based vac's features and benefits at the Ironpie launch at CES 2019.
Emerging Tech

Why wait? Here are some CES 2019 gadgets you can buy right now

Companies come to CES to wow us with their cutting edge technology, but only a few products are slated to hit the market right away. Here is our list of the best CES 2019 tech you can buy right now.
Emerging Tech

Drones: New rules could soon allow flights over people and at night

With commercial operators in mind, the U.S. government is looking to loosen restrictions on drone flights with a set of proposals that would allow the machines greater freedom to fly over populated areas and also at night.
Emerging Tech

Yamaha’s new app lets you tune your motorcycle with a smartphone

It used to be that if you wanted to tune your motorcycle’s engine and tweak its performance, you needed specialized tools and even more specialized knowledge. Yamaha’s new Power Tuner app changes that.
Emerging Tech

Short film celebrates New Yorker’s amazing robot costumes

New York City resident Peter Kokis creates stunning robot costumes out of household trash. His designs are huge, heavy, and extremely intricate, and never fail to turn heads when he's out and about.
Emerging Tech

In a first for humankind, China is growing plants on the moon

Having recently landed a probe on the far side of the moon, China announced that it managed to grow the first plant on the moon, too. Here's why that matters for deep space travel.
Emerging Tech

CES 2019 recap: All the trends, products, and gadgets you missed

CES 2019 didn’t just give us a taste of the future, it offered a five-course meal. From 8K and Micro LED televisions to smart toilets, the show delivered with all the amazing gadgetry you could ask for. Here’s a look at all the big…
Emerging Tech

Want to know which drones are flying near you? There’s an app for that

Want to know what that mysterious drone buzzing over your head is up to? A new system developed by AirMap, Google Wing, and Kittyhawk.io could soon tell you -- via a map on your phone.
Emerging Tech

CERN plans to build a massive particle collider that dwarfs the LHC

CERN already has the world's biggest particle accelerator. Now it wants a bigger one. Meet the 9 billion euro Future Circular Collider that will allow physicists to extend their study of the universe and matter at the smallest level.
Emerging Tech

Forget fireworks. Japan will soon have artificial meteor showers on tap

Tokyo-based startup Astro Live Experiences is preparing to launch its first artificial meteor shower over Japan, serving as a showcase of its prowess in the space entertainment sector.
Cars

Robomart’s self-driving grocery store is like Amazon Go on wheels

Robomart's driverless vehicle is like an Amazon Go store on wheels, with sensors tracking what you grab from the shelves. If you don't want to shop online or visit the grocery store yourself, Robomart will bring the store to you.