LarvalBot is an underwater robot platform that may greatly accelerate efforts to re-seed old corals with healthy new polyps.
The robot has a history going back to 2015, when a prototype known as COTSbot was introduced, capable of autonomously finding and destroying the destructive crown of thorns starfish.
From this LarvalBot was born! A semi-autonomous robot that moves across the Great Barrier Reef dispersing thousands of baby coral to help repopulate the reef after bleaching has damaged mass areas.
Hundreds of millions of coral spawn from unbleached areas in the Great Barrier Reef were collected and then reared into baby corals inside a large floating enclosure on the reef. The LarvalBot then delivers the developed baby coral larvae onto targeted reefs.
The base robot has full autonomy as it moves across the reefs. The human role comes from a researcher who monitor the LarvalBot’s video feed from the boat. That person will also have their finger on the trigger to determine when the larvae will be released. However, this is set to soon change and will be automated as well. This new method is far more effective than manual alternatives.