Mexican scientists create robot to protect coral reefs

Coral reefs in deterioration process due to global warming Photo: El Expreso de Campeche

Through the use of vision systems and the development of computer vision algorithms, scientists from the Center for Research and Advanced Studies (Cinvestav) created a robot to produce topological maps of reef areas.

Luz Abril Torres Méndez explained that the robotic platform is able to move in the marine environment in a minimally invasive way, unlike other robots.

She emphasized that the above is based on a computer vision technology to operate at sea, which means that they do not use infrared or laser to estimate their location or generate noise and thus avoid altering the ecosystem.

The expert, from the Robotics and Advanced Manufacturing area, explained that to fulfill this operation, they developed electronic control programs, which allow the robot to move autonomously, avoiding colliding with the habitat.

The project seeks to produce a topological map, but it will also use the information obtained by divers. Therefore, it was necessary to develop other processes that merge the information obtained by the divers’ devices, such as cell phones and sports cameras, with those produced by the robot.


Luz Abril Torres-Méndez.
Professor in the Robotics and Advanced Manufacturing Group at the CINVESTAV. (Centre for Research and Advanced Studies) in Saltillo, Mexico.
In August 1, 2014, Luz Abril became the Program Academic Coordinator.
and the research director of the Vision and Robotics Lab.

In a statement, the Cinvestav reported that the combination of this information is a challenge since the system must recognize the characteristics of the images that are captured with different devices and identify what reef area do they belong to.

Although there are similar projects focused on the topological mapping of reefs in other countries, they emphasized that the difference with existing ones is that the information captured by the robot is uploaded to the system in real time, unlike other projects that require a longer process.

The project, supported by the National Council of Science and Technology (CONACYT), generated information since 2014 and with the information gathered by locals, it has been possible to identify the changes in the ecosystem.

Researchers at the Cinvestav Campus Saltillo are looking to collaborate with organizations dedicated to the conservation and restoration of the reefs by giving them access to the platform, in order to monitor the evolution and the restoration and growth of the reefs.

Thanks to the collaboration of the Mar Adentro organization, the explored the Caribbean, in the Mahahual area, near the city of Chetumal, in Quintana Roo.

Source: http://www.eluniversal.com.mx



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