Business School


20 March 2017

Don’t just see the world’s first robot to target crown-of-thorns starfish (COTS) – press the button and fire its injection arm yourself at the World Science Festival Brisbane (WSFB)!

Proven to autonomously detect and control the devastating starfish, QUT’s ground-breaking COTSbot will be put in the hands of the public in the QUT tent at the World Science Festival Brisbane’s Street Science! showcase this weekend, where science lovers can take turns firing its world-first pneumatic injector arm.

Creator and QUT field roboticist Dr Matthew Dunbabin said the WSFB would be COTSbot’s last large-scale public appearance before undergoing a reef-saving transformation.

“Over the next few months we’ll be busy building the next generation of robo reef protector – RangerBot – a smaller, low-cost, vision-enabled multi-purpose marine management tool,” Dr Dunbabin said.

“We’re very excited to be working on this project with the Great Barrier Reef Foundation. We see great potential in this versatile robot which, in the hands of reef communities, will transform the way we protect these critical environments against a wide range of dangers.”

COTSbot is one of 10 robots ready to play with the public visiting QUT’s Street Science tent – including a dancing ant-like hexapod, a snake-like device for squeezing into tiny spaces, a research drone and a pint-sized robot that’s keen to play Guess My Emotion with you.

Visitors can also play a virtual reality (VR) game and take home a DIY VR headset.

Next door in the Reefs Alive tent, QUT researcher Brett Lewis will display the corals and marine creatures that built the Great Barrier Reef into the world’s largest living structure – including a touch tank for close encounters.

Meanwhile the Connect With Water tent will host QUT’s interactive, augmented reality sandbox designed to teach people about water catchments.

Science and Engineering Faculty Executive Dean Professor Gordon Wyeth said QUT’s engaging Street Science activities were both informative and fun.

“As a university, we prioritise helping people make real-world connections between science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and their own lives,” Professor Wyeth said.

“It can be hard for someone to understand new research and technologies if they’ve never encountered them before or don’t see the relevance to their world.

“That’s why we’re inviting Queensland to literally get their hands on our research.”

QUT experts also feature in the WSFB’s packed schedule of talks, workshops and stage performances, including:

The WSFB runs Wednesday 22 March to Sunday 26 March at the South Bank cultural precinct.


Media contacts:

Kate Haggman, QUT Media, 07 3138 0358,

After hours Rose Trapnell, 0400 585 901,


QUT is part of a national collaborative group of five major Australian universities that form the ATN (Australian Technology Network of Universities).

Fire the COTSbot's injection arm at the WSFB.

Professor Peter Corke joins the QUT line-up of speak at the WSFB.


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