Weapons designers in China have sketched out a tank-like robotic spider — and they're pitching the idea to the military. A quick scan of the specs shows they're actually quite serious about building this thing.
Looking at this so-called "crab walker," one can't help but think these weapons designers took inspiration from scifi. It's like a simplified cross between Star Wars' OG-9 Homing Spider Droid and Ghost in the Shell's Tachikoma Walker. Indeed, as noted by Jeffrey Lin and P. W. Singer in their PopSci report on the proposed Chinese walker, "Robotics designers in the U.S. have long gotten their inspiration from both science fiction and biology, and Chinese engineers are no different, most especially those working on walking combat robots." They explain:
Dai Jinsong and other Chinese engineers of the School of Mechanical Engineering, Nanjing University of Technology, have published three articles in Chinese weapons design journals as part of a long term study into the design of a legged, autocannon carrying robot. The extent of the study indicates a serious effort. The first article discussed modeling gun accuracy and building an eight-legged demonstrator and the second articles involved application of computer aided design (CAD) software to improve the testing process. Most importantly, the third paper analyzed the systems integration of components like the nine channel signal driver module, RS-845 communications module and STM-32 syncrhonization set, which were required to build a unique unified control system for its eight limbs.
The Chinese "crab walker" design is roughly 6 meters long, and two meters wide, including its legs. It has eight main legs, four on each side of the body, and has two rear mounted legs to brace itself for stabilization during firing; there is also another stabilization leg installed in the front). The size of the Crab Walker would make it capable of being airlifted by heavy helicopters like the Mi-26 and its prospective replacement, the Sino-Russian Mi-46. During transport, the Crab Walker's three stabilizing legs would be retracted to allow faster movement.
As noted by Lin and Singer, this is still at the drawing board stage; it could be replaced by alternative unmanned vehicle designs. Take DARPA's recent effort, for example, to redefine the tank.
Read the entire article at Popular Science.