Space may be the final frontier, but there is still an vast expanse of uncharted territory deep beneath the sea on our own planet.
But this could be about to change thanks to an unlikely new aid to explorers and scientists: a giant robotic crab.
Makers of the monstrous machine claim that it’s the world’s largest and deepest underwater walking robot.
Weighing in at 1,400lbs (635kg), Crabster CR200 is designed to scuttle along the sea floor like a real crustacean and uses complex mechanics to stabilise itself.
It is envisioned that the robot could be used in scientific exploration projects as well as fixing structures far beneath the waves such as pipes used to carry oil and gas.
In a concept video, the team imagines that robot might be able to pick up objects and stow them in a compartment that looks a bit like a mouth, although the real version does not have these features.
Because of its size and weight, the robot could also be used instead of a scuba diver in strong underwater currents.
It can steady itself on its six legs and in strong currents, puts its ‘head’ down and raises its rear end to face the flow head-on, PopSci reported.
The crab has 11 cameras on board including an acoustic camera to see in cloudy waters by using reflected sound waves to make realtime videos composed of between four and 30 frames a second.
A concept drawing reveals the robot has a colour HD camera that can zoom in to inspect items up close and can send the data back via a 1,640ft (500metre) long tether that also allows human operators to control the crab.
According to plans, the robot uses a ‘doppler’ to gauge the speed and direction of moving water and acoustic ‘pings’ to communicate its location on the sea floor.
The robot could use sonar to create 3D maps of its watery surroundings and can move at a top speed of 1 mph (1.6 km/h).
It has been built by engineers at the Korea Institute of Ocean Science and Technology and completed its first underwater mission last summer.
The scientists plan to test the robots at a depth of 656ft (200 metres) before taking Crabster to the Yellow Sea to help archaeologists examine 12th century shipwrecks that have lain undisturbed for hundreds of years.
The project is being supported by the Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs (MLTM) in South Korea.