RangerBot

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  • 2019

  • Product
    Commercial and Industrial

Designed By:

  • QUT - Engineering and Interface Team
  • Designworks - Industrial Design

Commissioned By:

Great Barrier Reef Foundation

Designed In:

Australia

RangerBot is the world’s first vision-based underwater robotic system designed specifically for coral reef environments. Its unique design and intuitive user interface provides end-users (coral reef mangers, researchers, and community groups) with a targeted, affordable and reconfigurable solution for upscaling monitoring and management of reef ecosystems worldwide.


  • CHALLENGE
  • SOLUTION
  • IMPACT
  • MORE
  • RangerBot solves the specific challenge of empowering reef managers, researchers and community groups with intuitive, customisable and affordable robotic tools to upscale underwater monitoring of the Great Barrier Reef, control marine pests and facilitate coral restoration activities. Built around world-leading image processing algorithms giving diver like capabilities, the design brief required; (1) day-night visual navigation and science data collection capabilities, (2) six degree-of-freedom manoeuvrability, (3) ability to attach multiple science and manipulation payloads, (4) transportation on commercial flights (without batteries), (5) an intuitive interface to engage a range of stakeholders, and (6) a build price range of AUD$5k – 20k.

  • RangerBot was co-developed around a world-leading autonomous vision system and a unique and functional physical form over a 12-month development phase. This demanded a multi-disciplinary design team of AI specialists, engineers, industrial and interactive designers. The design was guided by end-user functional requirements and 10 years of operational experience in marine robotics. Monthly prototype trials in pools and on the Great Barrier Reef provided critical design, usability and performance feedback allowing iteration to validate the product at each stage. This ensured that on every performance metric (robotic capability, usability, hydrodynamics, controllability and transportability) the final product exceeded the brief.

  • RangerBot continues to achieve positive impact and international commercial interest. RangerBot’s have demonstrated the ability to control pests like the Crown-Of-Thorns Starfish on the Great Barrier Reef, and monitor and map reef health indicators like coral bleaching and water quality. RangerBot’s ability to revolutionise the way our oceans and coral reefs are managed is continually being assessed by Australia’s primary research and management agencies with commercial orders already taken. In November 2018, a world’s first demonstration used RangerBot’s to spread coral larvae over reefs damaged by bleaching and cyclones. This is now being translated to other locations worldwide.

  • RangerBot continues to be used to monitor a range of issues facing coral reefs including bleaching events, water quality, pest species, pollution and silt build up. It can help to map expansive underwater areas at scales not previously possible, making it a valuable tool for reef research and management It has been used for surveillance and controlling of Crown-of-thorns starfish, as well as to deliver reared coral larvae onto reefs in a process known as ‘larval restoration’. It restores damaged parts of the Great Barrier Reef and speeds up the recovery of ecosystems affected by coral bleaching and cyclones. RangerBot’s design function has been demonstrated to, and used by key stakeholders for a range of monitoring and management tasks. The overall form and interface means general operation can be achieved within ten minutes of semi-supervised training. The intuitive user interface facilitates data transfer, power management, and maintenance for single and multi-unit applications. RangerBot has a logical orientation with ergonomic form and status light system making field deployments intuitive and safe. Its design provides protection from rough handling in a maritime environment, full manoeuvrability, and complex vision-based task execution. The form also allows opportunity for partner branding and sponsorship collaborations.