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Apr 19, 2017

RSE Unveils Guardian LF1 Undersea Robot and Launches Kickstarter Campaign

Guardian LF1 to Stun and Capture Lionfish in Deep Water
Hamilton, Bermuda, April 19, 2017 – The non-profit, RSE: Robots in Service of the Environment, today announced the Guardian LF1, an affordable unmanned undersea robot designed to control the population of invasive lionfish in the Atlantic, and launched a Kickstarter campaign to build awareness and support for the project as it enters the next stage of development. Designed to cost less than $1000 and go below sport diver depth down to 400 feet, the Guardian LF1 fully functioning prototypes can stun and collect up to ten lionfish before bringing them to the surface.

The simultaneous launch of the RSE Kickstarter campaign will help decrease populations of the voracious lionfish that is destroying beautiful reefs, threatening coastal tourism, challenging the fishing industry, and massively disrupting the Atlantic marine ecosystem. The Kickstarter campaign will help build a community of supporters that will enable creation and effective deployment of the first test fleet of affordable robots to cull targeted populations of lionfish in the Atlantic.

“The lionfish is the perfect invader, a venomous fish with an unquenchable appetite and no natural predators,” said Colin Angle, co-founder and executive chairman of RSE. “The RSE Kickstarter campaign provides an opportunity for the community to get involved in stopping lionfish from further expansion and allowing the recovery of our marine ecosystem.”

RSE will unveil the Guardian LF1 at a #EatLionfish Chefs’ Throwdown in Bermuda hosted by 11th Hour Racing on April 19, ahead of Earth day. In advance of the #EatLionfish Chefs’ Throwdown, the Guardian LF1 was used to showcase the important role low-cost robots can play in creating a reliable and sustainable way to bring lionfish meat to market.

The Guardian LF1 undersea robot consists of two main components: an underwater remotely operated vehicle (ROV) with an innovative capture mechanism, tethered to a remote surface control station. The underwater ROV is deployed from the ocean surface to seek out lionfish which can be located up to several hundred feet below safe sport diver depth. An operator at the surface controls the Guardian LF1 movements via a game controller locating and capturing lionfish. Eight separate thrusters mounted on the ROV enable it to move smoothly in all planes of motion and maintain position regardless of undersea currents using an onboard autopilot. 

Once a lionfish has been identified by the operator, through cameras and lights on the ROV, a pair of electrodes mounted on the ROV are used to apply a small electric current to the water near the fish. The operator safely controls the application of this low voltage alternating electric current, activating it for a very short period to stun and immobilize the fish. Similar technology is used regularly by marine biologists in freshwater to humanely capture and release fish unharmed. The RSE team collaborated with experts in the field of electrofishing to adapt this technology for use in salt water.  

As soon as the lionfish is immobilized, it is quickly suctioned into a containment vessel on the ROV. An innovative suctioning system was especially designed by the RSE engineering team that requires minimal power while producing a strong flow to draw in the stunned fish. A single robot can capture up to 10 lionfish before returning to the surface. The design is modular which will allow future versions to hold more or fewer fish.

RSE’s crowdfunding campaign, which runs from April 19 to June 3, will launch the non-profit’s efforts towards rapid development of the Guardian LF1 project as well as the creation of a fleet of test robots. Those looking to make contributions and join our community can visit RSE’s crowdfunding campaign site.

RSE’s innovative and viable solution to the issue of the invasive lionfish has been supported by two programs of The Schmidt Family Foundation: Schmidt Marine Technology Partners, which provided early funding to RSE for research and development, and 11th Hour Racing, which establishes strategic partnerships within the sailing and marine communities to promote collaborative systemic change for the health of our ocean. RSE has also been supported through a strong partnership with the Bermuda Government through their technical experts from the Ministry of the Environment which includes fisheries and marine conservation.

"Lionfish are a formidable threat to the fisheries and reefs in Bermuda and throughout the Western Atlantic,” said Sylvan Richards, Minister of the Environment, Bermuda Government. “Working with RSE to innovate this unique solution allows us to extend our stewardship of Bermuda's biodiversity to areas we cannot easily reach, and help other jurisdictions facing the same problem."

Additional information on the Guardian LF1 project and crowdfunding campaign is available at www.robotsise.org.

About RSE - Robots in Service of the Environment
Founded by roboticists, environmentalists and scientists, Robots in Service of the Environment (RSE) is an all-volunteer non-profit organization focused on developing robot technology to solve environmental problems.  Established in the fall of 2015, the non-profit’s first project is to develop an undersea robot to slow the destruction caused by the lionfish, an invasive species that is drastically reducing biodiversity and coral reef health in all warm waters of the western Atlantic. By combining technology development with mass manufacturing techniques, RSE offers a unique set of capabilities to solve some of the world's most challenging environmental problems on a massive scale. 

RSE Social Media
For more information about RSE and the launch of the lionfish undersea robot, please visit https://www.robotsise.com/; on Twitter @robotsise and Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/RobotsISE/.

Mar 28, 2017

Robots In Service of the Environment (RSE) to Solve Large-Scale Environmental Challenges with Robots

Non-Profit's First Project is an Undersea Robot to Slow Invasive Lionfish Destruction
Boston, Mass., March 28, 2017 – There is boundless potential for robotic technology to address environmental catastrophes. Recognizing this, Colin Angle, chairman, CEO and founder of iRobot and Erika Angle, Founder and Executive Director of Science From Scientists have founded Robots In Service of the Environment (RSE). RSE is an independent non-profit organization, that is focused on developing robots to solve environmental problems. Started with initial funding from the Anthropocene Institute, Schmidt Marine Technology Partners, and the Angle Family, the non-profit’s first initiative is to develop a undersea robot to slow the destruction caused by lionfish, an invasive species drastically reducing biodiversity and coral reef health in all warm waters of the western Atlantic.

“As an extension of human efforts, robots have tremendous potential to solve large scale environmental problems by going and doing what a person cannot,” said Colin Angle, co-founder and executive chairman of RSE. “Whether it is helping to clean up a nuclear plant disaster, remove hazardous pollutants, or slow the expansion of an invasive species, robots play a critical role in mitigating manmade environmental problems. RSE was founded to create economically sustainable and scalable robotic solutions with this purpose.”

On April 19, 2017 at the 11th Hour Racing #EatLionfish Chefs' Throwdown at the National Museum of Bermuda, RSE will unveil a functional prototype of an affordable robot that will enable the mass capture of lionfish below depths reachable by sport divers, where the population expands unchecked. At the same time, RSE will launch a crowdfunding campaign to support the final development of the robot as well as resources to bring it to market in scale. Additional information on the robot and the crowdfunding campaign is available at www.robotsise.org. “Built by a team of volunteers made up of skilled roboticists, scientists and business people, all passionate about the environment, rapid progress has been made on the first prototypes of a robotic solution to one of the top threats to the Atlantic marine ecosystem,” said John Rizzi, Executive Director of RSE. “We are thrilled to now formally announce RSE to the public and soon move to our next phase of organizational growth including production of our first low cost robots effectively helping the environment.”

Since their accidental introduction over 25 years ago, lionfish have relentlessly invaded the western Atlantic, devouring over 100 different species of reef fish and crustaceans around Florida, throughout the Caribbean and Bermuda. An indiscriminate and voracious predator, one lionfish can reduce the fish biomass on a reef by 80 percent in just one month. It is now considered by marine biologists as a top threat to the Atlantic marine ecosystem along with climate change and ocean acidification.

“The Anthropocene Institute is working on a broad spectrum of environmental issues.  Lionfish caught our eye because they are particularly damaging; they are voracious predators, devastating fisheries and the environment up and down North and South America; they are found very deep below safe depths for diving, and reproduce quickly,” said Barbara Page, Co-founder and VP Operations of the Anthropocene Institute. “Robots are ideal for tasks that are hazardous for humans.  RSE has the proven expertise to design and mass produce robots and we are fans of their approach.”

Hand in hand with solving environmental challenges is an educational commitment focused on raising awareness and understanding of these same challenges. Leveraging Science From Scientists, RSE will create and implement educational outreach programs to expand the understanding of environmental challenges by local communities, how technology can help mitigate these challenges, and to stimulate and support STEM education and interest for young people in those communities.

11th Hour Racing #EatLionfish Chefs' Throwdown Developed in collaboration with the British America's Cup Team Land Rover BAR, 11th Hour Racing #EatLionfish Chefs' Throwdown was created to raise awareness about the environmental threat posed by lionfish, an invasive species impacting the coastal waters of Bermuda, the Caribbean and the Western Atlantic. The Throwdown will feature six celebrity chefs representing the six nations and teams competing in the America’s Cup - with Rob Ruiz as executive chef, they will serve up lionfish delicacies, a sustainable and delectable seafood choice.

About RSE - Robots in Service of the Environment
Founded by roboticist, environmentalists and scientists, Robots in Service of the Environment (RSE) is a non-profit organization focused on developing robot technology to solve environmental problems.  Established in the fall of 2015, the non-profit’s first project is to develop an undersea robot to slow the destruction caused by the lionfish, an invasive species that is drastically reducing biodiversity and coral reef health in all warm waters of the western Atlantic. By combining technology development with mass manufacturing techniques, RSE offers a unique set of capabilities to solve some of the world's most challenging environmental problems on a massive scale. 

RSE Social Media
For more information about RSE and the launch of the lionfish undersea robot, please visit https://www.robotsise.com/; on Twitter @robotsise and Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/RobotsISE/.

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Featured Video & Article

RSE FEATURED ON PBS NEWS HOUR

We were recently featured on PBS News hour, featuring our robot built to zap “Darwin’s Nightmare” – the invasive lionfish. Lionfish are invasive to the Atlantic Ocean and their voracious appetites are upsetting coral reef ecosystems. Watch the video or view the article here.