Inventor Creates Robot to Solve Overpopulation of Lionfish

November 23, 2016

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. eradicate / ɪˈræd ɪˌkeɪt / (v.) – to completely remove something bad
Example: The organization started a program that could help eradicate malnutrition.

2. invasive / ɪnˈveɪ sɪv / (adj.) – spreading into an area and difficult to stop
Example: The gardener is finding it hard to get rid of the invasive weed in the yard.

3. voracious / vɔˈreɪ ʃəs / (adj.) – consuming food in large quantities
Example: The child’s voracious appetite for sweets gave him a toothache.

4. electrocution / ɪ lɛk trəˈkyu ʃən / (n.) – the state of being hurt by electric shock
Example: Touching wires with bare hands can result to electrocution.

5. prong / prɔŋ / (n.) – a pointed end of an instrument
Example: Forks usually have three or four prongs.


Read the text below.
Scientists have invented a robot that could eradicate the invasive lionfish species in the Atlantic Ocean.

The effort was prompted by the rapid growth of lionfish population in the said ocean. Lionfish have a voracious appetite that can disrupt the food chain in the marine ecosystem. As such, environmental officials have deemed the species as a threat.

Colin Angle, co-founder of robotics company iRobot, believes that a robot predator is the key to controlling the lionfish population. This led him to create an organization called Robots in Service of the Environment (RISE). He and his team created a robot that is designed to kill the invasive lionfish through electrocution.

Angle was inspired to build the robot after a scuba diving trip with his wife in Bermuda, where the locals urged the couple to help them stop the lionfish invasion in the region.

With the help of RISE volunteers, Angle initially came up with two remote-operated prototypes. One model carries a spear gun, which is inspired by how humans used to hunt for fish, while the other is equipped with prongs that release electric shocks. The current models need to be operated by humans, but the team plans to create a robot that can do these on its own.

In 2015, robotics researchers from the Queensland University of Technology came up with a similar invention to control starfish overpopulation. The starfish were invading Australia’s Great Barrier Reef and eating up its corals. To save the reef, the researchers built COTSbot, an underwater vehicle that can kill starfish by injecting them with poison.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Do you agree with the method to be used to control the lionfish population? Why or why not?
·         How can the issue be addressed without killing lionfish? Discuss.

Discussion B

·         How can people use technology to improve the environment?
·         Given a choice, would you use natural methods or technological advancements to preserve nature?

November 23, 2016