If the only thing more terrifying to you than a spider is a spider chasing you, you’re not going to want to watch this video of Festo’s latest creation. Using eight reconfigurable legs, the BionicWheelBot can creepily crawl along the ground, but then transform into a wheel and roll at an alarming speed. Someone find me a gigantic rolled up newspaper.
Unlike Boston Dynamic’s creations, such as SpotMini and ATLAS—robots that seem specifically engineered to supplant humanity—Festo’s machines are typically far less intimidating; Robotic flying butterflies and hopping kangaroos are more fascinating than fearsome.
But the BionicWheelBot, inspired by the real-life flic-flac spider that’s known for doing cartwheels to quickly escape a predator, is equal parts technical marvel and terror for anyone who’s uneasy around creepy-crawlies. From a functional point of view, the robot’s ability to transform makes it ideal for tackling various types of terrain. When things get uneven, the BionicWheelBot can slowly tip-toe its way over rocks, debris, and other obstacles with its articulated legs. But when the path ahead is clear, it can convert into a wheel and use two of its legs to quickly propel itself along.
It’s a good thing Mother Nature hasn’t patented any of its inventions.