Robots Cooperate to Save Coral Reefs

Last September an IUCN report predicted the disappearance of 70% of coral reefs by 2030 due to pollution, high temperature, sea acidification and overfishing. It’s an urgent and alarming issue for marine biologists. To help address coral losses, Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh is designing marine robots able to rebuild the reef.

The robot is called, appropriately, Coral-bot. Its job is to look for pieces of living coral fallen on the sea bottom and attaching them again to the reef.

The Coral-bot works like a swarm with other autonomous underwater drones. David Corne, a scientist at Heriot-Watt’s Intelligent Systems Group explains: “This project explores one of the most intriguing and impressive feats of natural ‘swarm intelligence’, whereby collections of simple-minded individuals collaborate to construct complex and functional structures.”

A Kickstarter campaign has been launching to raise $ 107,000 to support the project. Need an incentive? A $25 contribution will get your name printed on a Coral-bot, while a donation of $1000 will get your name engraved on a stone that will become part of the first rebuilt reef structure, expected for October 2014.

Source Centre for Marine Biodiversity and Biotechnology, Heriot-Watt University

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