The Queensland designed and built robo Reef protector RangerBot has taken out three awards, including the coveted Good Design Award for Sustainability, at the 61st annual Good Design Awards announced last night in Sydney.
Great Barrier Reef Foundation Managing Director Anna Marsden said RangerBot is the world’s first vision-based underwater robotic system designed specifically for coral reef environments. It uses cutting edge vision-based technologies to effectively monitor a wide range of issues facing coral reefs as well as identify and destroy the coral-eating crown-of-thorns starfish.
“RangerBot took out the Good Design Award for Sustainability, Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences Award for its potential to make a significant improvement to the quality of the environment and the Award for Best in Class in the Product Design category,” Ms Marsden said.
“This is welcome recognition for the Foundation’s RangerBot project developed in partnership with QUT’s robotics team led by roboticist Professor Matthew Dunbabin, Chief Investigator at the Australian Centre for Robotic Vision,” Ms Marsden said.
“RangerBot first won the people’s choice vote in the Google Impact Challenge Australia in 2016 to build on the researchers’ successful COTSbot platform to create an affordable, underwater drone, equipped with robotic vision and capable of completing multiple reef health and monitoring tasks faster and more efficiently.”
The Good Design Awards are the highest honour for design innovation in Australia and are the result of years of hard work for QUT’s Professor Dunbabin whose passion is environmental robotics.
“The purpose of RangerBot is to empower reef managers to be able to undertake protection activities at scales not previously possible. It’s designed to stay underwater almost three times longer than a human diver, gather vastly more data, map expansive underwater areas, and operate all times of the day or night,” Prof. Dunbabin said.
“The beauty of the design is that it’s able to continually adapt and change. For example, last year it played ‘stork’ by delivering tiny baby coral larvae out onto damaged reefs as part of the coral IVF project that won the Foundation’s Out of the Blue Box Reef Innovation Challenge supported by The Tiffany & Co. Foundation.
“RangerBot is a great example of Queenslanders coming together to find a solution for some of the threats facing a Queensland icon. From the robotics being built at the Queensland University of Technology to the casing and flotation system being designed by fellow Queensland innovators Designworks who are known for the “The Queen’s Baton” for last year’s Commonwealth Games.
“These awards are a great tribute to this truly innovative, forward-thinking design and the brilliant team at QUT led by Professor Matt Dunbabin,” Ms Marsden said.
RangerBot was awarded best in class in its category, ahead of innovations including a tactical gun which uses radio frequencies to counter drone threats; a reusable notebook which hopes to reduce the amount of paper used in the classroom; and a smart trap that detects fruit flies, taking the manual work out of pest management.