When you think of a robotic spider, you probably don’t think cute and cuddly. Instead, your mind conjures up images of six-legged creepy-crawlies that swarm you as you sleep. Thankfully, the spider bot creators at Roboeve spent more time watching cartoons instead of science fiction when they created Xpider, the world’s smallest programmable robotic spider.
Inspired by the adorable cyclops character of Mike from Monsters Inc., the Xpider is a small, boxy robot that looks more like R2-D2 instead of the replicators of Stargate. The diminutive quadruped is palm-sized, measuring only 85mm tall and weighing only 150 grams. It has a camera for its single eye, allowing it to both see and respond to items in its environment. This camera also can send a video feed to a companion tablet or smartphone, providing a first-person view that lets the operator see what the robot sees.
Programmed using SmartNode software and powered by the Intel Edison and Intel Curie system on a chip, the Xpider is more than just a remote controlled robotic toy. The robot can see objects in it environment, deftly navigating around obstacles that might impede its movements. Xpider also supports facial recognition, identifying people’s faces, and responding accordingly. When placed on a desk, the Xpider dances when its operator approaches and sends out an alert when a stranger comes near.
The original Xpider took 8 months to develop and underwent several iterations before the team came up with the current design. It is a work in process with robot still in the early stages of development. The team is working to refine the design, transitioning the boxy “Xpider Fatty” robot to a more sphere-like design. The team hopes to generate funding for the production of this new Xpider in an upcoming Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign that’ll bring the adorable, little robot to the public. While you wait for the campaign to begin, you can check out the open source version of the Xpider on Instructables.