Offbeat

Meet the Robotic Mantis Hexapod

This is a two-ton turbodiesel-powered robotic arachnid you can drive.

Remember thesix-legged turtle from the Harry Potter movies? Neither do we, but its creators,Micromagic Systems, have taken its blueprints and created the Mantis Hexapod WalkingMachine, a giant hydraulic hexapod robot powered by a Perkins 2.2-literturbo-diesel engine. Headed byMatt Denton, the British company supplies animatronics and robotic and puppetcontrol systems to the British film and television industry. The Mantis was a pet projectthat began back in 2007 and took off in 2009 after securing private funding.

It has now been released after making its public debut at Bestival 2012, an annual music festival held on the Isle of White. Described as the biggest all-terrain operational hexapod robot in the world, the Mantis weighs in at 1,900 kg, stands 2.8 meters tall, has a five-meter working envelope, and is fitted with an array of sensors that help it walk. A Linux PC running HexEngine software controls the hexapod’s locomotion by coordinating the 18 hydraulic actuators in its legs. The operator can either be onboard controlling the robotic beast via a PC panel, or remotely via a WiFi link.

Currently the Mantis can only move at 1 kph, but has the potential to go three times that speed. The Mantis is available for private hire, so check out the video of the robotic monster in action to see if it could be for you.

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