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Roomba maker going after invasive species (VIDEO)

By Jonathan Sweet

Since the 1980s, the Lionfish, which is native to the Indian and Pacific oceans, has become an increasingly major problem in the Atlantic Ocean.

It's just one of the major invasive species wreaking havoc. Now, iRobot (best know as maker of the automatic vacuum cleaner, the Roomba) is turning its attentions to dealing with invasive species and the Lionfish in particular.

It's the focus of iRobot's RISE (Robots in Service of the Environment) project, which hopes to use that same technology to target lionfish. In effect, a "killer robot" to take out Lionfish.

According to RISE:

Lionfish are indiscriminate and voracious predators that do not stop feeding.  They gorge on at least 70 different species of reef fish and crustaceans and are capable of eating prey up to half the size of their own body. They are sexually mature at 12 months and spawn approximately 30,000 eggs every 4–5 days. A single lionfish can reduce the fish biomass on a reef by 80% in just one month. Lionfish are armed with 18 venomous spines making them an unattractive food source for other marine creatures.  This perfect predator has no natural predators of its own in the Atlantic.  With no apparent limit to their population growth, other than water temperature, lionfish pose a huge threat to the fish stock of the western Atlantic Ocean.

Prototype testing is continuing, RISE says.

The project was also featured on PBS Newshour. You can see that segment below.

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