Students from Ghent University in Belgium have developed a six-legged floor crawler that's sure to leave its mark on those it comes into contact with. The Scorpion Hexapod, which wouldn't look too out of place in the robotic menagerie of German automation technology company Festo, fires its stinger at the hand of anyone covering its eyes, leaving a red mark as a reminder of the encounter.
The Master Year project design brief of students Stephan Flamand, Robbe Terryn and Pieterjan Deconinck was to redesign a robotic ant created as the mascot for the university's Industrial Design Center in 2011/2012. The team identified a number of problems with the Stigmergic ant, including motors that were quick to burn out, batteries that didn't last long and a lack of autonomy. Improvements were discussed, but by the end of October last year, the decision was made to change direction slightly, and aim to build a "rubber stamping" scorpion instead.
Electronics from the original ant-bot were, for the most part, re-used for the scorpion robot, though an Arduino Nano replaced a Mega board and a more powerful battery pack selected. The modules that make up the legs and tail were 3D-printed, the two sheet ABS body was lasercut, and the shell, claws, leg ends and tail stinger fashioned from thermoformed polystyrene. A marker pen was used to leave a stamp on the scorpion's victims.
The robot has been programmed with numerous moves and some auto responses to interactions, though live control via a computer is also possible. A long range IR sensor and three short range sensors positioned in the upper shell are used to detect user proximity and there's a front-facing camera.
As you can see in the video below, the Scorpion Hexapod moves in a similar way to the real thing (though it could maybe do with another pair of legs for extra realism) and stabs anyone who dares to get too close. The bot will now be used to promote courses at the Industrial Design Center.