Hunting Starfish with Robots and Computer Vision

A team from the Queensland University of Technology has built a robot that can hunt for Crown-Of-Thorns Starfish along the Great Barrier Reef. From the team's website:

Crown-Of-Thorns Starfish (Acanthaster planci) are described as one of the most significant threats to the Great Barrier Reef. Since the 1960's, land-based nutrient runoff has accelerated outbreaks of COTS which are destroying large areas of reef. With few natural predators, traditional control of COTS required manually injecting the starfish in excess of 10 times with a biological agent. In 2014, a new agent was released, which was developed by the James Cook University (JCU) requiring only one injection per starfish. This advancement provided the stimulus for us to revisit automated (robotic) COTS population control and monitoring.

The intention of COTSbot is to provide a proof-of-concept robotic system that consolidates prior and ongoing research into image-based COTS detection, robotic vision, manipulator control, and shallow water Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) design, navigation and control, to directly facilitate COTS reduction. This multi-stage project will validate and demonstrate AUV performance to stakeholders and ensure the system components are a useful and flexible enabling foundation technology for environmental monitoring beyond the problem of COTS control.

This is a great example of using computer vision to aid autonomy, which is something we've long discussed on the forums here. Great to see it in action!

https://wiki.qut.edu.au/download/attachments/192519759/Cotsbot_concept_drawing.png?version=1&modificationDate=1441115486000&api=v2

More about the team and robot here.