Lionfish have become the scourge of the western Atlantic Ocean, systematically destroying the biodiversity and laying waste to everything in their path — including coral reefs and marine ecosystems. While lionfish don’t make for great neighbors in areas they shouldn’t be in, they are nonetheless tasty and make a great meal, especially pan-fried with rice and seasonal vegetables.
To help dwindle the enemies numbers and regain control of coastal waters, researchers from RSE (Robots in Service of the Environment) have designed a UUV that hunts, stuns, and captures lionfish at depths of up to 400 feet for 60 minutes at a time. RSE’s latest UUV, the Guardian LF1 Mark 3, is a modular roving vacuum that cleans the sea of only lionfish, and can transport up to 30 pounds of the fish before needing to empty its holding tank.
The Guardian LFI is outfitted with eight 6-DOF thrusters for great maneuverability underwater as well as the main enclosure that houses the ROV’s autopilot module, microcontroller, camera, communication platform, motor controllers, and sensor suite. Positioned in front of the vehicle are a pair of shock paddles that stun the fish, and a container that’s features a suction mechanism that draws the fish in while plastic tines keep them from escaping.
The UUV is not yet autonomous and requires the use of a 200-foot tether to control and communicate with the robot, however, the researchers are currently looking at ways to include assistive autonomy, which could be implemented in the next iteration of the Guardian platform.