Australian researchers are using a robot submarine in their battle against an invasive, coral-eating starfish devastating the Great Barrier Reef.

Researchers at the Queensland University of Technology said the robot, named Rangerbot, can monitor coral bleaching and inject vinegar into the crown-of-thorns starfish.

The drone, the first ever developed specifically for coral reef environments, can monitor coral bleaching and water quality, along with detecting pest species such as the crown-of-thorns starfish with up to 99% accuracy.

The starfish have proliferated in recent years due to pollution and agricultural run-off.

The Great Barrier Reef, which covers an area of approximately 2,300km, is suffering irreparable damage due to the combined effects of bleaching, damage from agricultural run-off and the impact of the crown-of-thorns starfish.