Coral reefs worldwide are threatened by anthropogenic disturbances and climate change. New tools are needed to scale up monitoring of coral reefs to understand reef ecosystems, rapidly assess biodiversity, and measure the efficacy of interventions. This interdisciplinary project will address this need by creating an autonomous robotic system that can navigate a complex ecosystem and intelligently sample its environment to estimate local biodiversity and ecosystem health.

CUREE is a robot designed to explore underwater ecosystems, observe complex interactions between the organisms that live there and their habitats, and use these observations in real-time to adapt its behavior as an intelligent partner for marine science.  As a compact system designed to be deployed and operated by teams as small as a single person, CUREE can be taken anywhere in the world in checked luggage on commercial airlines and deployed without a need for significant supporting infrastructure.  In experiments in the U.S. Virgin Islands, we demonstrated how CUREE can be used to study coral reefs, by combining audio and visual observations of a coral reef to infer the preferred habitat of snapping shrimp, or by tracking a barracuda as it hunts above a reef.

Girdhar, Y., McGuire, N., Cai, L., Jamieson, S., McCammon, S., Claus, B., San Soucie, J. E., Todd, J. E., & Mooney, T. A. (2023). CUREE: A Curious Underwater Robot for Ecosystem Exploration. IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation.
ArXiv preprint

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This project is funded by NSF award #2133029