When robotics Professor Ingo Rechenberg observed a strange spider in the Sahara Desert a decade ago, the arachnid’s unusual form of locomotion ended up inspiring the design for his latest robot design, which was recently revealed to the public for this year’s Hannover Messe technology fair in Germany.
The “BionicWheelBot” was designed by Rechenberg for the industrial automation company FESTO, and its movement patterns are mainly based on a species known as the “Flic-Flac Spider,” which uses a combination of crawling and cartwheel-like rolling to escape its enemies.
In other words, the BionicWheelBot can creep toward you like a gigantic tarantula on its spiky legs… but if it really needs an extra turn of speed, it can tuck those legs into a wheel-like configuration (just like the flic-flac does), and just roll itself along — not unlike the heavily-armed “Droidekas” seen in the STAR WARS prequels.
The design is intended to solve certain problems facing robots when navigating difficult terrain (including the surface of Mars or other planets).
Apparently, the nightmarish aspects of a robot which can crawl up you like a giant metal tarantula (and chase after you at high speed if you run) didn’t deter Rechenberg and his team… which leads me to believe these mechanical critters might be the first wave of shock troops in the inevitable robot apocalypse.