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October 18, 2021updated 22 Oct 2021 7:48am

‘Beyond Coral Foundation’ Develops Coral Restoration Robot Prototype

Concept: Stephen Rodan, an engineer, has ventured the ‘Beyond Coral Foundation’ to contribute to the protection and adaptation of coastal cities and ecosystems through restoration and reinforcement of the coral reef and its interconnected systems. It aims to create scalable, replicable, and sustainable solutions that use art and storytelling to spread a coral message. The foundation also plans to promote awareness and develop facilities that inspire action in the face of climate emergencies.

Nature of Disruption: CHARM is a cloud-based computer software having a toothbrush on a robotic arm. Users can use a computer or a smartphone app to operate CHARM by selecting a program sequence from the web portal. Multiple tooltips are located at the end of the CHARM raceway, and when prompted, the machine carriage shifts to the appropriate tool, such as a soft bristle brush for algae removal. It is equipped with a camera that sends images to computer software to differentiate between algae and coral, triggering a cleaning cycle. The software can inspect color changes, such as indicators of disease, bleaching, or pests. While CHARM is still in its early stages, it has the potential to increase the yield of nursery-grown frags for restoration.

Outlook: The Beyond Coral Foundation has cited a few issues which contribute to decreasing the count of coral reefs that includes 80% of the Meso-American reef is dead, traditional tourism contributes to coral reef loss, no new corals are being born in the wild, and marine conservation is inadequately financed. To maintain the ecosystem and bring balance, coral reef restoration is paramount. Additionally, varieties of coral fragments are placed in raceways in coral restoration facilities, but the repetitive tasks, such as examining the fragments, cleaning, and rearing them takes a long time. CHARM is developed to perform these tasks efficiently. It combines scientific research with computer automation in order to save time and grow resilient coral colonies at economies of scale.

This article was originally published in

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