Crown-of-thorns Sea Stars Simulation

In this simulation developed by the Human Systems Integration Laboratory, a remotely operated vehicle maneuvers through a South Pacific coral reef, hunting for the crown-of-thorns sea stars, a marine invertebrate covered with long, poisonous spikes. When the pilot finds a sea star, an injector extends from the vehicle’s arm and zaps the creature.

Players target the crown-of-thorn starfish in the simulation because it is a real-world need. The predatory sea creatures have become overpopulated and are turning colorful reefs into bleached-out wastelands. In the real world, the sea stars are injected with vinegar to control the population. The simulation, called M8-R Sim, will make its debut in the MATE ROV Competition, an underwater robotics challenge that draws participants from around the globe. The simulation will give pilots a chance to practice their skills. The competition consists of 42 regional events that feed into a world championship. The 2021 world championship is set for Aug. 5-7 at East Tennessee State University. Students from middle school, high school, community and technical college, and four-year universities are eligible. You can download the simulator here.