RSE launches unmanned undersea robot designed to control population of invasive lionfish

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A non-profit called Robots in Service of the Environment (RSE) has unveiled the RSE Guardian LF1, Mark 3 prototype, which RSE describes as an affordable unmanned undersea robot designed to control the population of invasive lionfish in the Western Atlantic.

According to RSE, the robot accelerates the capture of lionfish at the critical action breeding depth below safe diver depth.

“The Lionfish are destroying the coral reef and decimating fish populations in the Atlantic. The latest innovations incorporated into the RSE Guardian LF1, enable the undersea robotic solution to go deeper, fish longer and pull in a larger haul,”​ explains Colin Angle, co-founder and executive chairman of RSE.

“With each technical milestone we cross we get one step closer to saving our greatest natural resource by empowering fisherman with new tools.”

​Researchers have discovered that a single lionfish residing on a coral reef can reduce native reef fishes by 79 percent, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

“Researchers working on the lionfish issue have documented severe impacts to our native ecosystems due to lionfish predation,” says Lad Akins, former executive director at REEF and founder of Blue Earth Conservation.

“While divers are able to remove lionfish in shallow water habitats, the deeper regions remain lionfish safe havens. RSE’s Guardian is working on robotic solutions to reach the deeper waters and remove lionfish that have been previously inaccessible.”

Built to reach the critical action depth below sport diver depth where lionfish breed, the RSE Guardian LF1 is intended to be used by fisherman, tourists and environmentalists. According to RSE, fully functioning prototypes can stun and collect up to ten lionfish before bringing them to the surface.

RSE recently conducted a successful Kickstarter campaign, which has led its engineers and roboticists to work on creating new innovations, research and technology to reduce the invasive impact of damaging lionfish in the Atlantic. Several testing missions were conducted in Florida, resulting in RSE capturing lionfish in vulnerable reef environments in the regions.

Some of the other noteworthy features of the Guardian LF1 Mark 3 include an enhanced run time (the run time on a single battery charge has been increased to 60 minutes), an expanded capture haul (the haul capacity has been doubled, allowing consumers the ability to capture more lionfish per mission and extend missions longer than traditional lionfish hunting means), and a modular design, in which the system modules have been isolated in side tubes so development and improvements can be made independently from the main chassis and systems, which reduces build time and speeds up development.