QUT professor Matthew Dunbabin with his new Ranger Bot which is going to help accurately identify and inject the devastating crown-of-thorns starfish. Picture: Zak Simmonds
QUT professor Matthew Dunbabin with his new Ranger Bot which is going to help accurately identify and inject the devastating crown-of-thorns starfish. Picture: Zak Simmonds

Could this be the answer to saving the reef?

AN UNDERWATER drone could revolutionise the way scientists look after the Great Barrier Reef.

The RangerBot, launched in Townsville at ReefHQ yesterday, uses a hi-tech vision system to see underwater and will be used for tasks including identifying and injecting the crown-of-thorns starfish and monitoring coral bleaching.

QUT Professor Matthew Dunbabin said after almost two years of research, development and testing, RangerBot could now get into action.

"We've been doing things with underwater drones but looking at one that is small enough to do a range of things is pretty incredible," he said.

"It can be taken out in a boat and dropped overboard to do surveys for 15 to 20 minutes or go up to eight hours if you want to push the battery life."

The small robot weight 15kg and can be operated using a smart tablet.

The Australian Institute of Marine Science recently took part in trials using the RangerBot on the Great Barrier Reef.

"We're finding new uses for it all the time," Professor Dunbabin said.