It's intended to get where humans can't -- especially in natural catastrophes and industrial accidents. By using its itty-bitty frame, agile legs and keen jumping ability, the spider takes obstacles like chemical spills and tight gaps in its eight-legged stride.
Just like a real arachnid, the robot keeps four legs on the ground at all time, while the other four move to ready themselves for the next step. This allows the articulate critter to confidently step over unstable ground without toppling over.
Some models can even jump into the air. This is thanks to the hydraulically operated bellows drives in the robot's legs -- by shooting fluid into its limbs the spider's legs can extend with a jolt to propel it upwards.
The control unit, valves and compressor pump are all nestled inside the creature's body. The robot spider can also carry measuring devices, sensors and a camera, depending on the task at hand.
The best bit about this arachnobot is how easy and cheap it is to produce. By using typical 3D printing processes (selective laser sintering, to be specific) a fine polyamide powder is turned into thin layers which are then melted together with a laser beam.
Plus, by making a few tweaks to the algorithm the end result can be altered. For example, spiders can be produced with infinitely variable load-bearing abilities in their legs. Because the design is modular, different bits can be swapped with other robots, to make the perfect bot for the job.
"Our robot is so cheap to produce that it can be discarded after being used just once," said researcher Ralf Becker, "like a disposable rubber glove."
Here's hoping those discarded spider-bots don't come back to haunt us.
Source: Wired | Fraunhofer