When you hear the word “drone,” your mind probably conjures up images of quadcopters and other UAVs — but despite the fact that the word has become more or less synonymous with “airborne robot,” the term doesn’t exclusively refer to robots that can fly. Sure, flying drones tend to get all the attention these days, but as autonomous robotics technology continues to advance, drones are increasingly making their way onto land and sea as well.
Case in point? This awesome six-legged spider drone from Spanish upstart Erle Robotics. Rather than patrolling the skies and giving you a bird’s-eye view of the world, this beast scuttles along the ground and lets you to explore places that would typically be of reach for an airborne drone.
It’s certainly not the first land-bound drone that’s ever been invented, but Erle-Spider does have a few things going for it that other drones don’t — the first and most obvious of which is its six legs. By walking around instead of rolling on wheels, the drone can scramble over more complex and varied terrain without getting stuck.
It can also carry a lot more tech. Not bound by the same weight restrictions that airborne UAVs have, Erle Robotics packed some serious computing power into the spider. The bot hauls around what the creators call the “Erle Brain 2” — a Linux-based onboard computer that sports a 900MHz quad-core ARM Cortex-A7, 1 GB RAM, and a dizzying array of sensors (gravity sensor, gyroscope, digital compass, pressure sensor, and temperature sensor).
With all this sensing and processign power at its disposal, the Erle-Spider can perform all kinds of nifty stunts — such as walking around and autonomously avoiding obstacles, or using computer vision to navigate new environments. And of course, because Erle Robotics has also created a software development kit for the bot, it can be programmed to do just about anything you want — except flying, of course.
The Erle-Spider isn’t quite ready for prime time yet, but it’s creators have recently turned to the crowdfunding community on Indiegogo for help with production costs, so you can lock one down for a pledge of about $400 to $570 (depending on the configuration you choose). Barring any major setbacks during manufacturing, Erle Robotics expects to have its spider bots ready and shipped out by December.