The Crabster CR200 Is A Man-Made Monster Of The Deep
At some point in the very near future, a mechanical monstrosity will begin stalking the deepest, darkest depths of the ocean. The six-legged machine cuts a rather imposing figure, standing at just over four feet tall and 7 feet wide and long. It's known as the Crabster CR200; a research droid designed to go where others cannot.
The device was developed by the Korean Institute of Ocean Science and Technology as a solution to a long-standing problem with deep-sea exploration: most of our current exploration vessels and machines are propeller-driven craft, which tend to function very poorly in fierce tides, meaning they're restricted to calmer waters. Because of this, it's difficult, costly, and time-consuming to explore some of the more dangerous regions of the ocean.
Crabster seeks to change that. The robot is designed after several breeds of crab and lobster which dwell in stormy waters yet are still able to exert control over their movements. It's good to a depth of up to 600 feet, and weighs around 650 kilograms with a full payload. To scan areas into which it is deployed, it's equipped with both onboard sonar and cameras.
Lead researcher Bong Huan Jun says that the machine is still undergoing constant modification, even though it's performed very well in preliminary tests.
"We are performing tests nearly every day," explained Jun to CNN. "We upgrade Crabster's software for more stable and fast walking and manipulation."
Speaking of movement, that's currently the biggest challenge facing Jun and his team - Crabster is only able to move at a painstaking speed of 10 centimeters/second (or 3 inches). For Jun, the next goal is clear: the robot needs to be able to go faster. That isn't his only goal, of course; the team also aims to make the robot stabler and more capable of moving over rough terrain, while the underwater vision system is another key priority.
Jun expects Crabster to greatly impact the field of undersea exploration if his team reaches their goals and the machine succeeds in its maiden voyage.
"We suppose CR200 can conduct seabed mapping, survey and inspection of wrecks, pipelines, ecosystems and pollution down to a 200-meter depth. CR200 will help divers or work instead of them in harsh environments. It also could assist in locating underwater resources, carrying out underwater mining, and responding to oil spill incidents."
Ultimately, he hopes to see his creation manufactured for use across the world, and is already planning out future incarnations of the robot inspired by other creatures in nature.
"We are now studying to make the Crabster to swim like turtles or diving beetles, and considering the hydraulic crabster for heavy-duty underwater working."
Of course, there's also the question of how other deep-sea creatures will respond to Crabster. After all, though it's designed after real-world crabs, it's still pretty alien-looking, at least by nature's standards. For his part, Jun is uncertain how Crabster will be received in a marine environment.
"I don't know if the animals treat the Crabster as a real crab or not," he mused. "I thought fish like it more than the other underwater vehicles with propellers that make noise. I hope animals treat Crabster friendly."
Animals will probably either run from it or ignore it - the real concern is how swimmers and divers might react to the machine. After all, it's not exactly the sort of thing you expect to come across while at the bottom of the sea, is it? At least its outer shell looks friendly; I can't imagine running across the creature in the video below.