U.S Marine Corps develops robotic assault vehicle to breach surf zone

The United States Marine Corps (USMC) is developing a robotic assault breacher vehicle to scour the waters for threats in a mined environment.

According to a recent service news release, the Marine Corps is working on the Crawling Remotely Operated Amphibious Breacher (CRAB), that will be a submersible, remote-autonomous system with front-end equipment—including a mine flail, tiller and rake—capable of breaching or proofing amphibious assault lanes for landing forces.

“In theory, the CRAB system will breach through man-made obstacles in the surf zone,” said Capt. Anthony Molnar, Marine Corps Systems Command’s MK154 and MK155 project officer.

The robotic crawlers will splash into the water from a littoral utility craft and travel along the sea floor to remove explosive and nonexplosive obstacles from the assault lane. Each CRAB is intended to be expendable, said Molnar.

“We’ll save lives and reduce costs for the Department of Navy and the Marine Corps,” said Molnar.

In the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2019, MCSC submitted a proposal to the Office of Naval Research for the CRAB system as a Rapid Innovation Fund topic for fiscal 2020. Once approved, MCSC will begin a two-year process of developing a prototype.

During this time, they will work with Combat Development and Integration to write the system’s requirements, said Molnar.

The CRAB system will align with the Commandant’s Planning Guidance, a 23-page document that mentions Gen. David Berger’s strategic vision for Mine Countermeasures. In his guidance, Berger wrote, “We cannot wait to identify solutions to our mine countermeasure needs, and must make this a priority for our future force development efforts.”

Unmanned robots give the Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations an efficient and effective capability to ascertain remote threats. Michael Poe, team lead for MCSC’s Mobility and Counter Mobility program, said the technology will be a catalyst in helping Marines identify hazards, defeat adversaries and complete missions.

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