Some time in the near future you’ll be seeing mechanical spiders creeping up and into burning buildings to help rescue trapped people. This is what researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation IPA are developing today. They’re using 3D printing technology, specifically selective laser sintering, to make these future robotic tools for emergency crews.
The mechanical spider’s legs are almost 8 inches long and its movements are operated by a hydraulic system. It can carry sensors or any other special electronic equipment necessary for emergencies. The specific advantage of this robot in such situations is that it can crawl into spaces that may be hazardous or inaccessible for human rescuers.
The chosen method of 3D printing will keep the manufacturing costs of this robot cheap. The selective laser sintering technique allows the developers to create the various components simultaneously, saving time and materials. Fraunhofer even states that the mechanical spider could be a single-use disposable tool.