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SLS Robot Spider 'Daddy Longlegs'

Spider robots with legs twenty centimeters long have been built at the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation IPA. Their bodies are built using generative production technologies, and specifically on selective laser sintering (SLS) of plastics (a 3-D printing process).


(Daddy Longlegs - robot style)

With its long extremities, the spider has a range of ways to get around. Some models can even jump. This is possible using hydraulically operated bellows drives that serve as joints and keep limbs mobile. With no muscles to stretch their legs, these creatures build up high levels of body pressure that they then use to pump fluid into their limbs. Shooting fluid into the legs extends them. “We took this mobility principle and applied it to our bionic, computer-controlled lightweight robot. Its eight legs and body are also fitted with elastic drive bellows that operate pneumatically to bend and extend its artificial limbs,“ explains Dipl.-Ing. Ralf Becker, a scientist at IPA. The components required for locomotion, such as the control unit, valves and compressor pump, are located in the robot‘s body; the body can also carry various measuring devices and sensors, depending on the application at hand. Hinges interoperate with the bellows drives so that the legs can move forward and turn as needed. Diagonally opposed members move simultaneously, too. Bending the front pairs of legs pulls the robotic spider‘s body along, while stretching the rear extremities pushes it.

For me, I guess the most memorable robot spiders were found inside a vast, alien artifact that zoomed into our solar system in Rendezvous With Rama, Arthur C. Clarke's classic 1972 novel.

Norton turned his head. Ten metres away was a slender-legged tripod surmounted by a spherical body no larger than a football. Set around the body were three large, expressionless eyes, apparently giving 360 degrees of vision, and trailing beneath it were three whiplike tendrils. The creature was not quite as tall as a man, and looked far too fragile to be dangerous, but that did not excuse their carelessness in letting it sneak up on them unawares. It reminded Norton of nothing so much as a three-legged spider, or daddy-long-legs...

(Read more about Clarke's spider tripod robots)

Science fiction movie directors have given us some cool spider robots as well. Check out the surveillance spider robots from Steven Spielberg 2002 film Minority Report and the killer spider robot from Michael Crichton's 1985 film Runaway.


(Minority Report spider robot swarm)


(Killer-Spider-Robots attack Tom Selleck in Runaway)

From Fraunhofer Institute via Frolix_8.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 11/6/2011)

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