About this project
“You see these beautiful boats sailing around Bermuda, and underneath them there’s this pretty horrific environmental catastrophe underway with this lionfish invasion, so I think it brings the community of people who are passionate about the ocean together.”
- The New York Times
“With advances in wireless technology, we can actually have an app where people pay to go hunt lionfish and capture the fish by remotely operating the robot ... if robots can catch lionfish, a new market in which chefs can turn an environmental hazard into gourmet cuisine might emerge."
1) 6-Degree of Freedom Navigation System – 8 thruster array for total motion control, allowing complex hunting maneuvers and stabilization of undersea currents.
2) Stunning Panels – Low, controlled voltage temporarily stuns the lionfish long enough to be captured.
3) Electronics Enclosure – Pressure vessel containing open source microcontroller, autopilot module, communication node, motor controllers, and main camera. This vessel also contains the system's sensors including leak detection, depth, and 3-DOF gyro.
4) Surface Tether – 100m tether for control and communication with surface power.
5) Power Enclosure – Module containing on-board batteries, or an adapter for surface power and tether.
6) Capture System – A thruster captures and holds lionfish in the chamber. This chamber holds up to 50lbs of lionfish to make each diving session impactful.
7) Main Body – The robot body is 8” in diameter and allows for agile underwater movement.
Since their accidental introduction over 25 years ago, lionfish have relentlessly invaded the western Atlantic, devouring over 100 different species of reef fish and crustaceans around Florida, throughout the Caribbean and Bermuda. An indiscriminate and voracious predator, one lionfish can reduce the fish biomass on a reef by 80 percent in just one month. It is now considered by marine biologists as a top threat to the Atlantic marine ecosystem along with climate change and ocean acidification.
The unsolved disaster resulting from the infestation of lionfish in the western Atlantic begs for new ideas and a new approach. To be effective, the solution needs to be widely deployable and be economically self-sustaining. It needs to be able to reach large lionfish populations deep underwater, as well as guard reefs from infestation. The operators must be non-professionals who can deploy and maintain the solution without extensive training. All these requirements can be met with properly designed, manufactured, and deployed underwater robots.
RSE is running a crowdfunding campaign for two reasons: to raise awareness about the urgent environmental threat posed by the invasive lionfish, and secondly to get their revolutionary Guardian LF1 submersible robot into the hands of users who can enjoy catching the fish and doing good for the environment at the same time.
Our Formula Is Simple: in order to truly impact the lionfish population there will need to be a lot of robots in the water hunting and capturing the fish wherever they are.
The Guardian LF1
The Guardian LF1 device is driven by a controller similar to a gaming controller, and is very user-friendly and lightweight at about 20 pounds. This device is special because it is the first to reach, stun, and capture lionfish that are found very deep below safe depths for diving. At this depth, lionfish reproduce quickly and unchecked by any predators - causing havoc for reefs and fish ecosystems. Once captured, the lionfish may be cooked for a tasty meal or sold!
The Guardian LF1 undersea robot consists of two main components: an underwater remotely operated vehicle (ROV) with an innovative capture mechanism, tethered to a remote surface control station. The underwater ROV is deployed from the ocean surface to seek out lionfish which can be located up to several hundred feet below safe sport diver depth. An operator at the surface controls the Guardian LF1 movements via a game controller locating and capturing lionfish. Eight separate thrusters mounted on the ROV enable it to move smoothly in all planes of motion and maintain position regardless of undersea currents using an onboard autopilot.
Once a lionfish has been identified by the operator, through cameras and lights on the ROV, a pair of electrodes mounted on the ROV are used to apply a small electric current to the water near the fish. The operator safely controls the application of this low voltage alternating electric current, activating it for a very short period to stun and immobilize the fish. Similar technology is used regularly by marine biologists in freshwater to humanely capture and release fish unharmed. The RSE team collaborated with experts in the field of electrofishing to adapt this technology for use in saltwater.
As soon as the lionfish is immobilized, it is quickly suctioned into a containment vessel on the ROV. An innovative suctioning system was especially designed by the RSE engineering team that requires minimal power while producing a strong flow to draw in the stunned fish. A single robot can capture up to 10 lionfish before returning to the surface. The design is modular which will allow future versions to hold more or fewer fish.
To apply robotic technology to solving large-scale environmental challenges and to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers through our efforts.
Passion for the Environment, Education, and Good Business
There is boundless potential for robotic technology to address environmental catastrophes. Recognizing this, Colin Angle, chairman, CEO and founder of iRobot and Erika Angle, Founder and Executive Director of Science From Scientists, have founded Robots in Service of the Environment (RSE). RSE is an independent non-profit organization, not affiliated with iRobot, that is focused on developing robots to solve environmental problems. Started with initial funding from the Anthropocene Institute, Schmidt Marine Technology Partners and the Angle Family, the non-profit's first initiative is to develop an undersea robot to slow the destruction caused by lionfish, an invasive species drastically reducing biodiversity and coral reef health in all warm waters of the western Atlantic. By combining technology development with mass manufacturing techniques, RSE offers a unique set of capabilities to solve some of the world's most challenging environmental problems on a massive scale.
Thank you for supporting our campaign to make the Atlantic ocean lionfish-free! Please make sure to give us a shoutout on Facebook, Tweet at us on Twitter, and connect with us on Linkedin for the latest information on RSE and environment-related topics!
Risks and challenges
Our biggest challenge will be packing and shipping rewards to our backers. As with standard shipping, delays may occur. We plan on being completely transparent with our backers, and will update everyone along the way. Thank you and we appreciate your support!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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