Giant Crab-Like Robot to Plumb the Ocean for Shipwrecks and Treasure

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Former West Coast Editor
3 min read

Have you ever heard the saying “You can’t teach a crab to walk straight?” Well, you also can’t teach a crab to sniff out, explore and snatch up treasure from shipwrecks either. Not unless it’s a massive, six-legged futuristic underwater aquabot drone crab, like the Crabster CR200. 

A team of researchers from the Korea Research Institute of Ships and Ocean Engineering, led Bong-Huan Jun, designed the 1,400-pound autonomous robot crab three years ago. They successfully put the Crabster’s white sea legs to the test for the first time last August and say they will test its maximum underwater depth of 656 feet soon. After that, from May 12 to June 10, it will be in the Yellow Sea off western Korea with a group of archaeologists to dig its “claws” into 12th-century shipwrecks.  

The Crabster’s creators claim that it’s the biggest ocean-crawling bot in the world. With six six-foot-long jointed fiberglass “skin” coated aluminum legs jutting out from its bright red and yellow, egg-shaped glass and carbon fiber frame, it’s also one of the strangest-looking.

Who cares about looks, though, when the car-sized subaqueous robot can also do a bunch of really cool stuff, too? Like “swim” with its four hind thruster “legs,” kind of like a leatherback sea tortoise on steroids.

Here’s a concept video illustrating what the Crabster can do:

“The design concept of Crabster is focused on overcoming strong currents and turbid water,” Jun tells us. “So we looked to for nature creatures living in similar environments. Crabs and lobsters! CR200 mimics them.”

The idea, Jun says, is for the sturdy, remotely operated underwater vehicle (ROV) to scamper along the ocean floor with the relative ease of a crustacean, without stirring up blinding clouds of silt and debris like the propeller-driven ROVs that came before it. Still, the Crabster is slower than most modern day ROVs, dragging along at only one very sluggish mile per hour. Not exactly warp speed.  

Here’s a look at a real-life version of the Crabster in action, on land:

It’s decked out with a doppler radar-based navigation system for feeling its way around in the dark in murky waters and several cameras, including a tiltable color HD camera for zooming in on objects of interest (shiny treasures, we hope).

The Crabster can scoop up sea treasures and artifacts using grippers that on its two front legs (claws?), then stash them in a mouth-like “tool sled” compartment. Because it’s no fun to get your crab claws on some sweet ocean loot if you can’t gobble it up like a ruthless robotic ocean overlord.

The gigantic droid crab of your nerdiest undersea dreams might also one day be able to create 3-D maps of the ocean floor using scanning sonar. Jealous yet, James Cameron? We thought so.

What crazy apps and gadgets have you come across lately? Let us know by emailing us at or by telling us in the comments below.

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