Polytech students are developing a submersible robot to hunt Lionfish

Cal Jeffrey

TS Evangelist
Staff member

The Lionfish, which is native to the southern Pacific Ocean, is an invasive species that is wreaking havoc in the eastern Atlantic from the Caribbean to the coral reefs off the coasts of Florida and Georgia. Since the fish has no natural predators in this region, ecologists are concerned about the effects it has on the costal ecosystems. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) calls the Lionfish the “poster child for invasive species” because of its ability to decimated a population of other fish in a matter of weeks.

Members of the Robotics and Engineering Program at WPI started working on a solution to the problem last year as part of their MQP. Their idea is to build a robot that can be dropped in the water that will hunt down the invasive pests and harvest them with buoyant speartips that pull the Lionfish to the surface for fishermen to scoop up.

Undergraduates of the class of 2018 spent last year developing the software for the bot including a machine-learning vision system. They trained the AI by showing it thousands of pictures of different colored Lionfish from various angles. Senior Instructor of Computer Science Craig Putnam says the system is capable of recognizing Lionfish with 95-percent accuracy. They also trained the system what not to hunt — primarily divers.

The students also engineered buoyancy control and spearing systems. The spears reside in a carousel, and each is negatively buoyant, so when they spear a fish, it rises to the surface. Of course with each shot, the robot loses buoyancy. So the team developed a chamber behind one of its two cameras that expands each time a spear is fired keeping the rig neutrally buoyant.

Designing a watertight compartment for the logic board and other electronics was a challenge for the team as well.

“In many ways, this was the hardest part of the project,” said William Godsey, an undergrad who worked on the system’s buoyancy and electronics chambers, along with its shooting mechanism. “Just because something is waterproof doesn’t mean it will work in salt water, which is an incredibly corrosive substance.”

Even though the robot can recognize Lionfish as well as divers, it still has a ways to go before it is ready to go fishing. Class of 2019 students will be working on a 3D-GPS navigational system so that the robot can plot a search grid for hunting. The team will presumably also develop sophisticated object avoidance to prevent the robot from colliding with the fragile coral reef.

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ShagnWagn

TS Guru
Much like autonomous cars, just wait until they start spearing divers, and other fish. Consider "other fish" as jaywalkers. Same concept. Drop a million of these in the oceans and see what happens.
 

Evernessince

TS Evangelist
Much like autonomous cars, just wait until they start spearing divers, and other fish. Consider "other fish" as jaywalkers. Same concept. Drop a million of these in the oceans and see what happens.
We get it, you hate new technology. Please don't come to techspot if all you do is shitpost on every article about how bad robots are.
 
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Sir Alex Ice

TS Enthusiast
How about letting everybody know what is the best lure to catch this fish and let them go at it all year long? I think this fish it is good to eat.
 

Neojt

TS Addict
Easier solution, catch them give them to pet store, save a live and makes a great fish to look at
 

MonsterZero

TS Evangelist
How about letting everybody know what is the best lure to catch this fish and let them go at it all year long? I think this fish it is good to eat.
While they're not dangerous to eat, they are dangerous to handle. They have spines on their dorsal, anal, and pectoral fins which can inject venom which is immensely painful and can trigger anaphylactic shock.
 

Trillionsin

TS Evangelist
Much like autonomous cars, just wait until they start spearing divers, and other fish. Consider "other fish" as jaywalkers. Same concept. Drop a million of these in the oceans and see what happens.
This fish is still a greater problem, and while not being very dangerous to humans you are still recommended to seek medical treatment.

However, they are destroying the environments they are not native to.

Your other point was dismissed because it was just ridiculous.

But hey yea.. lets just keep putting divers at risk by sending them down there to get them manually...
 

wiyosaya

TS Evangelist
Much like autonomous cars, just wait until they start spearing divers, and other fish. Consider "other fish" as jaywalkers. Same concept. Drop a million of these in the oceans and see what happens.
We get it, you hate new technology. Please don't come to techspot if all you do is shitpost on every article about how bad robots are.
Personally, I think the caution is warranted. I would like to see an entity like "The Nature Conservancy" involved in this. They have dealt with other invasive species in an effective manner without botching up the existing ecosystem or making it dangerous for humans or native species.

The area that is currently affected by lion fish is already under extreme threat from other adverse elements. If something like this is not done with great care, it could, in some fashion, make the situation much worse.

Easier solution, catch them give them to pet store, save a live and makes a great fish to look at
That is speculated as how the problem started: These are a dangerous fish, and it is speculated that aquarium owners that owned these fish and kept them in their aquariums released them into the wild for some reason. The released fish then bred thus starting a population of this species in the area.
 
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captaincranky

TechSpot Addict
And while we're on the topic of, "invasive species", imagine what would happen to the American social, economic, and ecosystems, if suddenly half a billion, "Telephonium sinosagax", were released into the wild....:eek:

Oh crap, that's already happened......:poop:
 
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