Mon. Sep 25th, 2023
    Coral Maker: Using Robots to Restore Coral Reefs

    Coral reefs are crucial ecosystems that support a large percentage of marine life. However, coral reefs are at risk due to climate change and human activity. Scientists predict that by 2070, reefs could be completely extinct. In an effort to save coral reefs, technology company Coral Maker has developed a new method of coral restoration using robots and artificial intelligence.

    Traditional methods of coral restoration are slow and can only revive one hectare of reef per year. Coral Maker aims to speed up this process by mass propagating coral. They have been able to grow 10,000 coral skeletons per day, each containing six to eight fragments that will regrow in their natural habitat. The corals are grown using locally sourced natural aggregate mixes and recycled stone waste, reducing emissions and waste from transportation.

    To accelerate the transition into automated coral propagation, Coral Maker has partnered with engineering software firm Autodesk. The robots they have designed are trained to recognize different coral fragments and handle them effectively. This collaboration between robotics and AI allows scientists to focus on more complex tasks, while the robots carry out repetitive pick and place tasks.

    However, there are challenges to overcome. Moving the robots closer to the reef, possibly onto boats, is one hurdle. Delicate handling of living coral and keeping important components of the robots dry becomes more difficult at sea. Additionally, the technology is expensive, but Coral Maker is determined to find solutions to make their project successful.

    With coral propagated using this method able to grow to full size on the reef in just 12 to 18 months, this innovative approach could greatly contribute to the restoration of coral reefs. Given the current threat to coral reefs, initiatives like Coral Maker’s are crucial in preserving these vital ecosystems.

    – National Geographic
    – BBC
    – Autodesk