I’m sure not many people love spiders; even so, you’ve got to grant it to the arachnids that they use their eight legs to great advantage to move around quite rapidly. At any one time, they plant 4 legs firmly on the ground and use the remaining 4 legs to prepare for the next step or jump.
This technique has now been borrowed by a team at Fraunhofer, Europe’s largest applied application-oriented research organization Institute, to create a spiderbot. As the name suggests, the spiderbot is a robot that looks like a spider, and walks like one too.
It even has specially-designed joints that allow it to jump. The spiderbot’s 8” legs and body have pneumatically operated elastic drive bellows that produce the force required to get the bot to jump.
The spiderbot was created using a 3D printing process called Selective Laser Sintering (SLS). SLS involves applying thin layers of polyamide powder and using laser beams to melt them into place. This process allows several components to be produced at one time.
It also saves on materials, besides allowing even complex shapes to be fabricated quite easily. Another huge advantage is that the end-product is lightweight, something that is important when constructing a robotic device.
Like other robots, the spiderbot too is expected to find application in locations such as accident sites or disaster-hit areas that are deemed as being too hazardous for humans.
A prototype of the spiderbot will be on display at the EuroMold 2011 trade show in Frankfurt, scheduled to be held between November 29 and December 2.