As robotics and 3D printing converge to a point where some are left jokingly questioning if the two technologies will one day take over the world, Intel appears to be at the forefront of developing perhaps the non-fictional version of Skynet — for those Terminator fans out there. Perhaps this version of the story won’t include large humanoid robots who have a goal of killing off humanity, but rather cute spiders with dance moves that might give Michael Jackson a run for his money.
Back in April, Intel’s CEO, Brian Krzanich unleashed his army of gesture-controlled spiderbots at the company’s developer forum (IDF) in Shenzhen, China. These mini robots garnered quite a bit of attention, while also showing off the power of Intel’s processors. Even Jimmy Fallon commented on the little creatures during an airing of The Tonight Show a few months back. “The end of the world is going to be fun,” Fallon joked.
At the most recent Intel IDF, which just took place in San Francisco, Krzanich was again on hand to show off the power of Intel’s processors. This time though, he debuted the company’s latest, larger than ever, spiderbot, named Big Mamma. This robotic arachnid was equipped with Intel’s Core i7 processor for a brain and a RealSense camera for its eyes, and was constructed out of an amazing 9,000 individually 3D printed parts.
“I don’t think robotic spiders are going to be responsible for the end of the world, but they could definitely start a new dance craze,” Krzanich explained as his large spider robot pulled off dance moves that left the audience in awe.
Dancing to Uptown Funk by Bruno Mars and Mark Ronson, with the aforementioned smaller army of robotic spiders alongside, the spectacle showed off just how well 3D printing and robotics go together when trying to create a custom robot solution.
To create this giant creature, Intel turned to engineers and designers at North Design Labs for a solution.
“Intel received a lot of publicity earlier in the year with their smaller spider robots, so for IDF this year, the Intel team wanted to do something that would make a real splash,” explained Mike North of North Design Labs. “They wanted to create a huge version of their spider-bot. In a very short time, literally a week, we were able to design it, 3D print it, and fit parts on the robot”
So how exactly did the team at North Design Labs go about doing this? They simply turned to a 3D printing company who we’ve covered numerous times in the past, called FATHOM. The team at FATHOM used their advanced additive manufacturing services to 3D print over 9,000 different organic-looking pieces in several different materials. The process, which took a few weeks, left North Design with the pieces that this large spider would eventually be constructed with.
“The team envisioned the big spider-bot with LED’s but we didn’t want it to be a bunch of point sources,” explained North. “By securing the LED’s behind the white, opaque 3D printed parts, the light was diffused. In the dark, the glowing organic spider-bot legs light up really nicely and it looks fantastic.”
As you can see in the video below, this giant spider certainly won’t be taking over the world anytime soon, but perhaps it could go on to win some dance competitions in the near future.