This is almost the exact same response I get every time I've shown someone this video. Everyone wants one. Every single person I've shown, even those who hate spiders. There's something alluring about this little fella that just draws people in, despite its arachnid-esque physique.
However, I have been following up that video with a simple question: "Can you think of a single use for this?"
This question usually illicits a long pause, followed by abject silence. No one can think of a single use for this contraption. "But it's so cool!" everyone retorts, and I completely agree. I still want one, though I know that the only pleasure it would give me would be in the first couple days of operation, and then possibly showing it to people who hadn't seen one before.
Someone brought up the fact that I have a quadcopter and asked, "What use does that serve?" Well, honestly, most of the time it serves none. It was amusing for a few days, but I only drag it out now if I need to shoot some aerial footage. That ability to capture aerial footage is a pretty big checkmark in the useful column.
One friend told me to think of it like a radio-controlled car. They have no use other than the fact that people enjoy driving and racing them. I can grasp this idea. However, the spider bot is so fragile that I find it difficult to envision people actively enjoying driving it around for very long. Just watch this video and pay attention to Adam Savage talking about breaking his in various stupidly easy ways.
In all seriousness, I do understand why people have this hobby. It is kind of fun to play the "what use is it?" game, but I think at this point it might also be fun to share what the draw is to this kind of robot.
There are groups of people who spend their hobby time working on hexapods and octopods that have natural motion. For them, the fun is creating these complex physical behaviors. The ability to have not only a biologically inspired walking gate, but multiple variations that are kinematically correct is quite a thrill for them. Just as an artist relishes in the perfect transition from a hot to a cold color, a spiderbot enthusiast will get tingles down their spine when they succcessfully nail down the thorax compensation for a sideways weight shift.
In short, for the people who participate in this hobby, it is usually the process of creating and refining the thing that offers more fulfillment than having the final product be a usefull robot.
This specific one is the T8 made by Robugtix. Coming in at roughly $2,500 it is quite an investment for a toy. However, they're working on a newer and much cheaper version called the T8X. You can find its order form here. The price for this beauty ranges from $499 up to $749 depending on when you order. The lower price is a pre-order discount.
" For them, the fun is creating these complex physical behaviors."
I agree with you completely. The great fun is in creating the complex motion of a spider to make it to look natural. It is the technology behind this "toy" that would thrill the Spiderbot fans. Good to see some of the features that T8X would have the capability to talk to each other and there is a serial port available to modify & make custom programs. That would make things more interesting....if some one wishes to spend money in buying couple or more of these. It is a costly toy, but the pre order offer makes it attractive.
Join our online Radio Show on Friday 11th July starting at 2:00pm Eastern, when EETimes editor of all things fun and interesting, Max Maxfield, and embedded systems expert, Jack Ganssle, will debate as to just what is, and is not, and embedded system.