A locally-designed starfish-hunting death machine has opened fire on the Great Barrier Reef.

COTSbot, the world’s first underwater marine pest robot, has completed its first deployment on the Great Barrier Reef, hunting down and killing coral destroying crown-of-thorns starfish with a lethal injection of salts.

The field test saw COTSbot demonstrate that it can navigate difficult reefs, detect crown-of-thorns and eradicate them efficiently.

“It’s always great to see a robot you built let off the leash, so to speak, doing the job it’s intended for,” said researcher Dr Matthew Dunbabin from QUT.

“We couldn’t be more ecstatic about how COTSbot has performed. The next generation will be even better and hopefully we can roll it out across the reef relatively quickly.”

The robot was tested while tethered to a WiFi-enabled boat, so that researchers could stay on top of the data and watch COTSbot work through its onboard cameras.

The team behind what could be the most important technological tool in the fight for the Reef is also calling for the public to get behind its bid to upgrade COTSbot to the superior RangerBot.

There are just two days left to vote for the robotic defence of our natural assets in the Google Impact Challenge.

Watch COTSbot in action below.