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Australia’s Great Barrier Reef To Get Help From Rescue Bot

The Great Barrier Reef is about the same size as Italy or Japan.

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A large piece of coral can be seen in the lagoon on Lady Elliot Island, on the Great Barrier Reef, northeast of Bundaberg town in Queensland, Australia. VOA
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For the first time an underwater robot is to be used to plant baby coral to parts of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef damaged by mass bleaching, as scientists plan to collect hundreds of millions of coral spawn off the Queensland city of Cairns in the coming weeks.

Most coral reproduce through spawning, where eggs and sperm are pushed into the water at the same time. In northern Australia, researchers are preparing to harvest this mass release of coral spawn on the Great Barrier Reef. They will be reared into baby corals in floating enclosures. Then they will be delivered as so-called ‘larval clouds’ to Vlasoff Reef about an hour’s sailing from Cairns by a semi-autonomous robot.

Professor Peter Harrison, the director of the Marine Ecology Research Center at Southern Cross University, said science is giving a nature a helping hand.

great barrier reef
Many ways wee introduced in the past to map ocean floors and the newest one is from Japan. Pixabay

“What we are trying to do now is compensate for the loss of corals that would normally provide enough larvae for the system to naturally heal,” Harrison said.

Large areas of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef have been damaged by severe bleaching – or loss of the algae that gives coral its color. The bleaching is caused by rising water temperatures and made worse by climate change.

The experiment on Vlasoff reef, which was badly affected by the mass bleaching, will be coordinated by divers, who will guide the spawn-spreading robot, known as the LarvalBot.

Professor Matthew Dunbabin from the Queensland University of Technology says time is of essence.

great barrier reef
The Great Barrier Reef, Australia. VOA

“In future projects we are hoping that we can start to do that more autonomously, but this is very new and we are up against the clock in terms of trying to get this in the field as quick as possible to make sure that we can have a reef to preserve,” Dunbabin said.

A coral reef is made up of millions of tiny animals called coral polyps. The reefs are critical ecosystems, and provide a home for at least a quarter of all marine species.

Also Read: Australia Rejects U.N. Climate Report, Continues Using Coal

The Great Barrier Reef is about the same size as Italy or Japan. Thirty species of whales, dolphins, and porpoises have been recorded along the reef.

It faces a range of threats, from climate change and overfishing, to the run-off of pollution from farms, to coral-eating crown of thorns starfish. (VOA)

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Drone Delivery Project by Google All Set to ‘Take off’ in Australia

Up to 30 businesses were expected to take part in the first trial

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A Google logo is seen at the company's headquarters in Mountain View, California, VOA

Australia is set to become “the most advanced country in the world” in drone delivery when the first commercial service by Google starts operations in 2019.

Wing, a subsidiary of Google’s parent company Alphabet, on Thursday announced that its commercial drone home-delivery service would launch in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) next year, reports Xinhua news agency.

The drones will travel at speeds of up to 125 km per hour and will deliver small packages, including cups of coffee, to homes within 5 km of the company’s base in Mitchell in the northern suburbs of Canberra.

James Ryan Burgess, CEO of Wing, said that the 12-rotor drones, which were designed to guarantee safety, weigh 4.5 kg each and can carry packages weighing up to 1.5 kg.

On-the-ground, operators will supervise multiple flights at a time as the drones fly to their destination automatically.

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Google’s drone delivery project set to ‘take off’ in Australia. Pixabay

“We have high levels of automation and so the aircraft themselves are doing a lot of the determining of what is safe, and making sure that they are monitoring themselves to be healthy. If there are any anomalies or any problems, the aircraft actually take action themselves before even a human could react and are able to execute safe contingency actions,” Burgess told the media.

“That’s one of the reasons why we’re able to perform such quick service and get people (their) packages within just a few minutes… The system can take off right away when the customer places an order.”

Moreover, a supervisor can quickly take control of a drone if necessary.

Also Read- People Raise Over $1 bn on Facebook

Up to 30 businesses were expected to take part in the first trial.

The Civil Aviation Safety Authority has worked with Wing since 2014 to ensure safety and will use the results of the trial to guide future drone regulations. (IANS)