The United States Marine Corps have recently submitted a proposal to the Office of Naval Research to begin researching to develop small, crawling unmanned robots. The robots will crawl from ships ashore to clear a path through deadly minefields.
The Crawling Remotely Operated Amphibious Breacher, or CRAB, will be an autonomous, submersible robot that will be armed with tools for breaching mines in order to clear a path for troops. Currently this job is performed by combat engineers using expensive vehicles, however this job is incredibly dangerous and the vehicles used to clear paths aren’t the best for breaching through a beach.
In the hopes of saving lives and reducing costs, each CRAB robot will be expendable. With hopes of developing enough of the robots that an attacking force can just simply send a swarm of CRABs and clear the shoreline from threats.
The CRAB effort is considered a priority for many Marine Corps officials. The Marines are looking for innovative ways to utilize unmanned systems to counter mines and other anti-access defensive systems.
The Marine Corps are aggressively pursuing the optimization of unmanned technologies according to Military.com. Currently the service relies on an Assault Breacher Vehicle for its anti access, anti mine needs. The Assault Breacher Vehicle is built on an M1A1 tank chassis and therefore is not best designed to operate in unstable surf zones.
The CRAB robots would allow Marines to safely land onshore, since the expendable robots could scan the area and detonate both underwater and onshore mines.
If the Office of Naval Research approves the CRAB proposal, a two year process of developing a prototype will begin. Along with the prototype, Marine Corps Systems Command will also begin writing the system’s requirements alongside the Marine Corps Combat Development Command’s Combat Development & Integration Office.