Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Techy Tuesday - Hexapods, Octopods and RoboSpiders

If you haven't run across these things on YouTube, you might be entertained with what experimenters are doing getting robots to emulate walking critters.

This critter is apparently called Atrax, and its claim to fame is the ability to emulate several different multi-legged gaits.  Atrax also does a pretty good impression of an Australian funnel web spider!

Atrax is cool, but the PhantomX hexapod almost skitters across the floor in this video.  The PhantomX is a commercial product - kind of pricey in my view - but you could play with one of these if you wanted to.  There are other kits out there to play with, like the T8X RoboSpider sold by Robugtix.

Why would you want a robotic spider?  Backing up a bit, why so much interest in hexapods and other designs like these?   The most common purpose is all terrain walking; more legs are better than two, and a walking robot can go places a wheeled cart can't - witness the big budget Boston Dynamics robots you've seen before, like the somewhat creepy (IMO) "Big Dog".  A less talked about use that looks really promising to me is CNC cutting! Imagine needing to do work on a big thing: a building, a car, a truck, or something with CNC precision.  How about a CNC milling machine (or router) that walks up to the work and does the job? 


  1. Cool hexapod CNC. But could you explain to me where are the CNC machines with the computer vision component? I saw the cutting stop so that fingers could come in and clear out the debris. The CNC cutter will blindly follow its g-code, regardless of whether the tool is creating the desired shape or not. Where are the CNC machines that will pause the cutting, and then use a camera, or perhaps a Kinect 3-D camera, to compare what has been done so far with what is desired? And then maybe re-apply certain cuts, or modify future cuts, so that the shape is more correct?

    1. Unfortunately, I can't.

      I also can't say they don't exist, but I don't know of any systems that do it now.

      But it would really cool, wouldn't it?