Submersible Robots Hunt Lice With Lasers

De-lousing is a trying agricultural process. It becomes a major problem in pens which contain the hundreds of thousands of salmon farmed by Norwegians — the world’s largest salmon exporter — an environment which allows the parasite to flourish. To tackle the problem, the Stingray, developed by [Stingray Marine Solutions],  is an autonomous drone capable of destroying the lice with a laser in the order of tens of thousands per day.

Introduced in Norway back in 2014 — and some areas in Scotland in 2016 — the Stingray floats in the salmon pen, alert and waiting. If the lice-recognition software (never thought you’d hear that term, huh?) detects a parasite for more than two frames in the video feed, it immediately annihilates it with a 530 nanometre-wide, 100 millisecond laser pulse from up to two metres away. Don’t worry — the salmon’s scales are reflective enough to leave it unharmed, while the pest is fried to a crisp.  In action, it’s reminiscent of a point-defense laser on a spaceship.

Land-based agriculture has its own problems with weeds and undesirable plants, which this robot being tested in Australia aims to root out.

[Thanks for the tip, Douglas!]

54 thoughts on “Submersible Robots Hunt Lice With Lasers

          1. Sure it is, the lice will become the same color/reflective index as salmon scales. By natural selection when only lice that happen to be that color survive.

        1. But as long as the cause [DNA replication errors during cell division] cannot be remedied, the problem [cancer] cannot be avoided.2/3 of cancers are spontaneous due to random errors generated by the enzymes.
          Same for salmon farming: as long as people want to eat fish, farmers need to grow salmon. And as long as the problems that come with it can be contained, it will and should be done. 10 billion people aren’t going to feed themselves. Or do we just want to kill some part of the world population?

          1. What you are calling ‘errors during cell division’ are not errors at all and quite ironically they are the bodies greatest defense against cancer.

            Our body or DNA has been pre-progammed to die. This is not a necessary biological feature as demonstrated by lobsters (for example) that do not age or die (of age).

            Cancer is prolific cell growth that takes over cell resources and re-commissions cells from organs and the like and this is how it kills. Most importantly, cancer (or a pre-disposed probability of) is a feature of our DNA.

            Because of the way DNA reproduces, the very ends of DNA strands is not reproduced and this is the aging feature where our cells degrade over time eventuating in our death. This same feature is a limiting factor on prolific cell growth or in simple terms the growth of cancer like cells.

            So our body is a race between death by age and death by cancer or other things. The aging of cells reduces cancers ability but eventuates in the death of the body.

            For example, as a male I am almost certain to get prostrate cancer but the rate of growth of the cancer for most males is so slow that you die of old age first so the cancer can be inconsequential. It could be that the cancer will not kill you until you’re 240 years old.

            If our DNA was not programmed to age then we would die very quickly from cancer.

            The bottom line is that we all die from something. When medical science solves one problem then more people live longer and then have ‘other issues’ that becomes the ‘next’ problem for medical science to solve.

            I know writing about this can sound very callous. I mean no disrespect to others. I myself have a genetic pre-disposition to a particular cancer and another condition that is possibly worse.

          2. @RÖB: You write about cell aging, telomers and telomerase activity. That is partially correct, but: Cancer cells have increased telomerase activity which unfortunately protects them from this normal aging mechanism. That’s the reason they can proliferate in the way they do.
            The copying errors (“errors during cell division”) are not the shortening of the telomers (cell aging), they are just random mutations – the cause of cancer.

        1. Intellectual Ventures is not a company, they are the worst kind of patent trolls. They have thinktanks that exist only to crank out prototypes, patent them and sue anyone trying to actually develop anything. They are cancer.

        2. I think one of the big issue was the laser is not eye safe and it didn’t really discriminate between mosquitoes and beneficial insect as well as they claimed.
          One rule about any kind of news that is if it sounds too good to be true it probably is.

          If they’re really thick like what you see in Florida the laser would probably burn out after a week anyway.

  1. Surely this is a bit hard on fish eyes? A 10th of a second at powers enough to toast a louse must be a scatter risk – let alone a direct hit to the eye of a fish directly behind the target. Or are fish eyes somehow natures laser goggles?

    1. Going to go out on a limb and say they aren’t farming salmon for their visual acuity. Blind fish probably taste just like the sighted ones.

      Not sure about how much actual risk there is, and if salmon can even see the light at 530 nm (I’d think not being able to see it would be a benefit so they don’t avoid the laser gun)

      1. The advantage of short pulses, is that an eye won’t have time to focus on a scattered source. Also the power to kill the lice is probably pretty low, and the retina is cooled by a lot of blood. Takes a pretty small flame to fry an insect getting close, but you can pass your finger across it at same speed and barely feel it get warm.

        Also while not insensitive in the green region, fish tend to be super sensitive in blue into UV, so that’d be why a green laser used I’d think.

        1. A green laser is most likely used because water doesn’t absorb/scatter it that much as red or blue.
          There’s actually a project somewhere trying green-ish light for underwater comms, since radio doesn’t work for shit under water, especially salt water.

    2. No direct hits on salmon eyes: sea lice are lased off of the fish themselves. The beam is not killing free-swimming targets.

      Furthermore, from the camera manufacturer: “Custom-built image processing software running on the CPU calculates the exact co-ordinates on the fish where the contrast in the 3D image indicates the presence of sensitive areas, such as eyes. Once the software locates the eyes of the salmon, these are flagged as a no-fire zone, protecting the eyes of the fish from damage from the laser light.” (see

      1. Maybe you can dial back the snark and venom? Perhaps it was a careless mistake, perhaps it was a real gap in the writer’s knowledge. Who knows? The breadth of knowledge and topics on this site are broad and varied to say the least. Can you honestly say that you can pick up all possible mistakes in all the topics discussed here ranging from electronics, particle physics, chemistry, biology, 3D printing, machining, CAD, optics, astrophysics, robotics, computers, machine learning, programming, and a bunch of other stuff. (Please make note the Oxford comma). Not just grammatical errors but small errors than can crop up if you don’t fully grasp all of the topics discussed on this site.

        Do I see errors made? Yes. Does it help to belittle people over them? I doubt it.

  2. Next up, the Rube Goldberg things used to get the salmon around the dams on the Columbia. That includes trucks, but the salmon seem to like the pneumatic tubes.

    But it’s working, salmon are now further up the Columbia than they’ve been since the dams went up. People are all excited.


    1. “the salmon seem to like the pneumatic tubes” is one of those wonderful phrases I never expected to encounter. Thanks, 21st century.

      Thuntyfirst century.

  3. Looking the setup an idea emerged :-)

    Observation :
    – In Europe, the invasive species of the Asian hornet Vespa velutina which is attacking beehives is a major problem.
    – Vespa velutina is able to hover flight in front of the hive which allow him to attack bees on the flight board.

    So, if we are able to “Detecting and tracking honeybees in 3D at the beehive entrance using stereo vision” (, detecting and tracking hornet seems to be possible.

    Combine with laser, Asian hornet attacks can be stop.

    Good idea or not ?

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