Queensland robo reef protector wins Good Design Award

19th July 2019

The Queensland designed and built robo reef protector RangerBot has taken out three awards, including the coveted Good Design Award for Sustainability, at the 61st annual Good Design Awards announced last night in Sydney.

Great Barrier Reef Foundation Managing Director Anna Marsden said RangerBot is the world’s first vision-based underwater robotic system designed specifically for coral reef environments. It uses cutting edge vision-based technologies to effectively monitor a wide range of issues facing coral reefs as well as identify and destroy the coral-eating crown-of-thorns starfish.

“RangerBot took out the Good Design Award for Sustainability, Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences Award for its potential to make a significant improvement to the quality of the environment and the Award for Best in Class in the Product Design category,” Ms Marsden said.

“This is welcome recognition for the Foundation’s RangerBot project developed in partnership with QUT’s robotics team led by roboticist Professor Matthew Dunbabin, Chief Investigator at the Australian Centre for Robotic Vision.

“RangerBot first won the people’s choice vote in the Google Impact Challenge Australia in 2016 to build on the researchers’ successful COTSbot platform to create an affordable, underwater drone, equipped with robotic vision and capable of completing multiple reef health and monitoring tasks faster and more efficiently.”

The prestigious award for outstanding design and innovation in the Product Design category at Australia’s peak industry design awards is the result of years of hard work for QUT’s Professor Dunbabin whose passion is environmental robotics.

“The purpose of RangerBot is to empower reef managers to be able to undertake protection activities at scales not previously possible. It’s designed to stay underwater almost three times longer than a human diver, gather vastly more data, map expansive underwater areas, and operate all times of the day or night,” Prof. Dunbabin said.

“The beauty of the design is that it’s able to continually adapt and change. For example, last year it played ‘stork’ by delivering tiny baby coral larvae out onto damaged reefs as part of the coral IVF project that won the Foundation’s Out of the Blue Box Reef Innovation Challenge supported by The Tiffany & Co. Foundation.


“RangerBot is a great example of Queenslanders coming together to find a solution for some of the threats facing a Queensland icon. From the robotics being built at the Queensland University of Technology to the casing and flotation system being designed by fellow Queensland innovators

Designworks who are known for their elaborate baton for last year’s Commonwealth Games.

“This award is a great tribute to this truly innovative, forward-thinking design and the brilliant team at QUT led by Professor Matt Dunbabin,” Ms Marsden said.

RangerBot was awarded best in class in its category, ahead of innovations including a tactical gun which uses radio frequencies to counter drone threats; a reusable notebook which hopes to reduce the amount of paper used in the classroom; and a smart trap that detects fruit flies, taking the manual work out of pest management.

Photos of RangerBot and the awards can be accessed here.

Media contact:

GBRF Sarah Henderson 0429 890 087 shenderson@barrierreef.org

Rod Chester, QUT Media, 07 3138 9449, rod.chester@qut.edu.au

After hours: Rose Trapnell, 0407 585 901, media@qut.edu.au

Join us on social

Receive our Insights monthly e-news

Media enquiries

+61 3138 2931