Spiders make it look easy


What’s the difference between engineering and hacking? I think this video is a good illustration. Some guys decided to try and make a giant rideable mechanical hexapod, and documented how the whole project floundered and ultimately failed on video.

It’s infuriating how half-assed they were about the work. They start by welding together big chunks of steel together. No model, no prototyping, no estimating forces, negligible planning. They get something that sort of crudely moves individual components, and then slap together a rough controller (“each of the legs makes the same movement, with different timing,” ha ha), and try to get it to just stand up, and then take a few steps. It’s constantly failing, and then they rush in and replace another component with one that’s more powerful, not worrying about all the cascading consequences of such an action. Eventually they get it to clumsily walk a few steps and tear its own frame apart.

It’s the power of brute stupidity in action. I’m appalled that they got so much money and invested so much time in such a poorly thought-out project.

I half expected them to come to the revelation that it was a hexapod, not a spider at all, and try to weld on two more legs to make it work. That kind of ad hoc make-it-up-as-you-go-along approach characterizes the whole thing. The video is a kind of anti-advertisement for ever hiring these clowns to do a serious project.

Comments

  1. Allison says

    Unfortunately, this is the way most things are done in our society. Which explains why so much stuff doesn’t work — or even does the opposite of what it was intended to do.

  2. says

    I see a lot of stupid crap on youtube, dubbed “experiment.” Let’s see what happens if you put baking soda and vinegar together! Whee! What ensues is what always happens, since the chemistry hasn’t changed. In this case, hydraulics will make things move because that is what hydraulics do. They move things or they break or bend or blow a seal. Even rocket engineering is just application of known processes. It’s cool as hell but it’s less of an experiment than “perhaps this will fail because of some condition we did not account for.”

  3. birgerjohansson says

    Spiders and engineering- sea spiders can regrow body parts, not just legs.
    PracticallyT-1000 level.

  4. Rich Woods says

    It’s the trendy ‘Move Fast And Break Things’ school of project management. Fuck that for a game of soldiers.

  5. stwriley says

    A lot of my robotics team students have seen this video and they’ve universally laughed their hind ends off at these idiots. The team builds an industrial-sized robot in eight weeks every year for our competition, but even with that short time-frame they’d never take the shortcuts these fools take. They do proper design, force calculations, prototyping, etc. before they ever get to the point of building the actual robot. In other words, they follow proper engineering practices. It’s a shame that garbage like this video gets presented as the model of engineering for too many people who don’t know just how poorly these guys are doing it.

  6. Thornapple says

    Speaking of spider-mechs, maybe you’ve heard of Ghost in the Shell for the Playstation 1?

  7. Samuel Vimes says

    I watched this video a week ago and couldn’t believe what a fcuking clown show those idiots were running. I definitely clicked on “don’t recommend channel” afterwards.

    I may be light-years way from being any kind of expert builder, but FFS, even a balloon animal requires prototypes.

  8. says

    I wonder how much money got thrown away on this thing. They had a corporate sponsor! Did they have to give an accounting of how they budgeted and planned everything? Because this video says they wasted everything.

  9. EigenSprocketUK says

    They’re having fun; that’s great. But this is the “when I grow up I want to influence and go viral” mode of thinking.
    We see social media algorithms promoting the adolescent big bangs, big machines, and the testerical whooping, cheering, high-fiving — we begin to think that’s what real engineering or science is about. I’m off to despairingly tweak the youtoob algorithm an infinitesimal amount by setting several Sabine Hossenfelder videos going.

  10. says

    I don’t have a problem with clowns doing stupid things. That’s what clowns do. What I have a problem with is a system that promotes videos of said clowns over content of knowledgeable people doing interesting or innovative or useful things. In the long run, this gives people the completely wrong idea of how real engineering works and just degrades the average person’s trust in expertise. “I’m not an engineer but I play one on YouTube”. In some respects, it’s a more insidious version of Ham’s claim that amateurs built the ark but experts built the Titanic.

    Amusing ourselves to death, indeed.

  11. outis says

    Mmmm, I was also surprised at how they did not look at some literature first. I am no engineer, but I remember a SciAm article long ago (from the mid-80s, so quite the long ago) and it was about… someone building a hexapod machine.
    But they were real engineers, and they got down a few workable motion sequences for six-legged doodads. The easiest was: divide the legs in two groups of tripods, haul up one, advance it, put it down, haul up the other, advance it, plant it down, and so on. Quite noisy but it worked… clakclakityclak.

  12. says

    From first look at it What’s take my attention how this spider mech legs were made in hilarious way,
    it will be impossible for a spider to survive in nature with malfunction design.
    Even though I found it funny and entertainment .

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