Underwater Robots To Help Coral Reefs Recover

By: | July 28th, 2013

Coral reefs, some of nature’s most beautiful creations, are being threatened by bottom fishing, marine pollution and climate change. The livelihoods of half a billion people depend directly on the health of coral reefs and the life they support.

Changing Ocean pH Levels

Ocean acidification, one aspect of ocean ecosystem damage, is another issue to go along with climate change. But while the consequences of climate change are before our eyes every day, ocean acidification takes place below the surface of the water where most humans never go.

Ocean acidification is the increase of hydrogen ion concentration in water. Human emissions of hydrogen ions have raised the global ocean concentration by about 30%. This change has led to decreased pH and increased acidity, which interferes with the calcification process of coral and other sea creatures.

Increased CO2 in the atmosphere is absorbed by the ocean and the combination of CO2 and seawater makes carbonic acid, which eats away at the calcium that makes up coral. The oceans are in fact alkaline but slight changes in pH levels in the direction of “acidity” is enough to negatively impact marine life.

Habitat Remediation And Restoration

A company called “CoralBots” includes oceanographers, computer scientists, AI specialists, and engineers who have been involved in restoring reefs using human workers. The team believes the problem is so big that robots are needed to do the job. The company is raising seed funding to develope the robots through a project on Indiegogo, a crowd sourcing funding website.

CoralBots is exploring swarm robotics, underwater computer vision capabilities, robot arm and grip prototypes and more. The following video shows robots working on reefs.

David Russell Schilling

More articles from Industry Tap...