bit-tech.net

Giant six-legged robot built by UK animatronics enthusiast

Giant six-legged robot built by UK animatronics enthusiast

Matt Denton is an animatronics expert who has built himself a six-legged robot to ride around in.

An enormous, six-legged ride-in hydraulic robot has been unveiled by its British designer, who spent four years building it just for fun.

Designed and built by Matt Denton, an animatronics expert from Hampshire, UK, the 'Mantis' is described as "the biggest, all-terrain operational hexapod robot in the world."

It can propel itself and its single human passenger-cum-pilot at up to 1.5km/h. Controlled via joysticks inside its cockpit, it can also tilt and turn its 'body' in a number of different ways, as well as spin round on the spot.

The robot weighs a colossal 1,900 kg (4,188 pounds), stands 2.8 meters (9.18 ft) tall, and is powered by a Perkins 2.2 litre turbo diesel engine, which is used to drive its six hydraulic legs.

It also features a variety of sensors - such as force transducers, angle sensors, and an inclinometer - that help it walk. Meanwhile a Linux PC running HexEngine – software designed to control hexapods – does the heavy processing required to keep all 18 hydraulic actuators in its legs working in sync.

Mr Denton's "very expensive toy" has cost him hundreds of thousands of pounds to build and took many times longer than expected to complete.

"After 18 months we tried the model out. We had to completely strip out and rebuild the legs. They were too heavy and complicated." he said.

"I'm a software and electronics engineer so this was out of my area - I had to learn fast."

As well as costing a considerable sum to build, it is also rather thirsty, emptying its 20-litre tank of diesel travelling just 5km.

"It's not about miles to the gallon, it's about gallons to the mile," Denton said.

"It wasn't built to be efficient and fast. It was built to look cool and insect-like and fun."

"But legs are very inefficient - the wheel was invented for a reason," he added.

Denton, whose company, MicroMagic, produces animatronics for the film and television industries has built hexapods before but never on a human scale. He says a mining company and a marine research organisation have shown interest in his design and he hopes it might be used at science fairs.

Recently an American team secured Kickstarter funding to build a human-sized hexapod, though it appears they were beaten to the punch somewhat by Mr Denton. Their project, Stompy, can be found here.


See Mantis in action

We've seen plenty of these sort of mechanoid projects over the years but this is certainly one of the more impressive. Here's hoping he makes a version 2.0

9 Comments

Discuss in the forums Reply
Tangster 22nd April 2013, 19:12 Quote
I think we are all thinking along these lines.
http://uboachan.net/yn/src/1363004258703.jpg
Tynecider 22nd April 2013, 20:58 Quote
Military Mech's are not that far off now, I say 5 years for a working prototype with the proper funding.

Maybe these guys could help out with making Mantis more agile?

4ErEBkj_3PY
schmidtbag 22nd April 2013, 21:50 Quote
While I think a hexapod is cool and I'm glad this guy managed to successfully make it, I think a quadropod would've been easier, more efficient, and cheaper, but only slightly less cool. I'm sure having an additional 2 legs helps with stability and getting a smoother ride but I'm not sure the cost difference was worth it. Also, if he was going to invest this much into such a project you'd think he'd look into a more efficient (or at least less polluting) fuel. Alternative fuels are really only a problem for cars since you need to find a gas station. I highly doubt this guy tries to fill up at a pump in this thing. Funny thought though.
srgtherasta 22nd April 2013, 22:56 Quote
I remember seeing something like this on tomorrows world in the 80's. cool but abit pointless.
Gradius 22nd April 2013, 23:29 Quote
It would be useful back is 80's for TV show or movie. Today is really pointless. No way I would want this!
Gradius 22nd April 2013, 23:30 Quote
"back is 80's" read it as "back IN 80's ".
Meanmotion 23rd April 2013, 08:58 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by schmidtbag
While I think a hexapod is cool and I'm glad this guy managed to successfully make it, I think a quadropod would've been easier, more efficient, and cheaper, but only slightly less cool. I'm sure having an additional 2 legs helps with stability and getting a smoother ride but I'm not sure the cost difference was worth it. Also, if he was going to invest this much into such a project you'd think he'd look into a more efficient (or at least less polluting) fuel. Alternative fuels are really only a problem for cars since you need to find a gas station. I highly doubt this guy tries to fill up at a pump in this thing. Funny thought though.

Just on the fuel thing, there are very few alternatives to diesel that offer the same energy density and thus potential range - it is simply the most efficient choice given the desire to have this thing move under its own steam.
PingCrosby 24th April 2013, 09:38 Quote
Quick, pass me a rolled up newspaper
mstrchf 25th April 2013, 03:17 Quote
bet he plays chaos...
Log in

You are not logged in, please login with your forum account below. If you don't already have an account please register to start contributing.



Discuss in the forums