‘Mantis’ is a six-legged, ride-able robot that looks like a huge metallic spider and weights as much as a hippo. Its inventor spent 4 years of his life and hundreds of thousands of pounds for its construction, and as he says, he did it just for fun.
Matt Denton, the proud inventor, is an animatronics specialist from Hampshire, UK, and the owner of MicroMagic, a company that produces animatronics and robotics for films and television programs. His company specializes mostly on small-scale animatronics and although it has built hexapod robots before, none was big enough to be ridable by a human.
Mantis weights 1,900 kg, has a height of 2.8 meters and a 5 meters diameter. Its six legs are powered by a Perkins 2.2 litre turbo diesel engine and a 20-litre fuel tank. Talking of fuel, the gargantuan robot consumes 20 litres of diesel to travel just a 5 km distance, at the humble speed of 1.5km/h. As Denton admits, “It’s not about miles to the gallon, it’s about gallons to the mile. […]Legs are very inefficient – the wheel was invented for a reason”.
Yet, Mantis still looks cool. Its six legs work smoothly thanks to a HexEngine software that keeps all 18 hydraulic actuators in synchronization; it can tilt and angle its huge body and it can perform a full spin under the demands of its pilot. The pilot controls everything from the cockpit with joysticks.
A marine research organization and a mining company have already shown interest on the project, but according to Denton, its invention is better suited for science fairs: “It wasn’t built to be efficient and fast. It was built to look cool and insect-like and fun. […] It’s an entertainment vehicle, but I hope it will inspire people.”
Source: Mantis Hexapod