It’s estimated that as much as 30% of the population has some degree of arachnophobia, making it one of the more common fears among humanity. It makes sense of course, given that spiders are creepy, unpredictable, and often very fast movers. Now, robotics researchers have built something that is even scarier. It’s a six-legged robot that looks like a spider, but moves faster and more efficiently. Now’s the time to start building an apocalypse shelter.
In order to accurately replicate — and eventually improve upon — the movement of modern insects, the team built complex computer simulation models of bugs and then taught them how to walk. Most insects utilize a “tripod” gait which allows them to keep three legs on the ground and three legs in motion at any given time, so the team built their virtual bugs to follow suit.
After studying the motions of the insects, researchers realized that they could actually top nature’s own evolutionary design with a “bipod” gait that allowed four legs to be in motion at once. The group then built their own insectoid robot to take advantage of the more efficient walking motions, and were able to conclusively demonstrate that it moves faster than an insect of the same size would be able to. With just six legs instead of eight, the bot isn’t technically a spider, but anyone with a twinge of arachnophobia will immediately get a sense of dread nonetheless.
The bots were built by tech firm EPFL in Lausanne, Switzerland, and the research team published its work in a recent edition of the journal Nature Communications.