Crabster Robot Deployed At Korea's Sewol Ferry Disaster

Crabster is a 1400 pound underwater exploration robot created by the Korean Institute of Ocean Science and Technology. Although it is a relatively untested device, the conditions surrounding the site of the Sewol ferry disaster in South Korea.

(Crabster deployment video)

Crabster was designed by Jun and his colleagues at the Korea Research Institute of Ship and Ocean Engineering (KRISO) as a huge, six-legged robot capable of scuttling along the ocean floor. The robot can withstand strong tidal currents and carries both sonar and acoustic cameras capable of seeing through murky underwater conditions—precisely the conditions divers had to struggle with as they searched the Sewol ferry wreck in the cloudy waters of the Yellow Sea near Jindo Island...

"When I knew the rescue team had serious difficulties due to the high current and turbid water at the accident area, I called Dr. Sanghyun Suh, director general of KRISO and talked about Crabster’s functions and possibilities for helping with the rescue," Jun said. "The task force team of my institute reviewed the underwater robots made in KRISO and agreed to send Crabster to the area."

Jun and his colleagues ended up launching the robot 13 times, allowing the robot to spend 15 hours and 36 minutes in the water. After an initial two-day survey, the team spent an additional three days surveying the sunken Sewol ferry from distances of 500 meters to 1 kilometer.

Despite its baptism by fire, the Crabster robot worked perfectly as it walked across the seabed containing mud, stones, and small pieces of shell. The robot successfully used its acoustic camera and sonar to capture images of the seafloor, providing a stable platform for surveying the ferry wreck despite the tidal currents.

H.G. Wells' 1898 classic The War of the Worlds refers to a similar kind of device deployed on an alien world - in this case, the Earth:

...At first, I say, the handling-machine did not impress me as a machine, but as a crablike creature with a glittering integument, the controlling Martian whose delicate tentacles actuated its movements seeming to be simply the equivalent of the crab's cerebral portion.
(Read more about Wells' robot handling machine)

Via IEEE Spectrum

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