Creepy spider robot turns into a wheel and chases you

Commentary: The Festo Bionic WheelBot, set to crawl into the Hannover Messe industrial-technology fair, is quite an invention, but not one for faint hearts.

Chris Matyszczyk
2 min read

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.


Wheely scary.

Festo/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Just when you think you can outrun this creepy little spider bot, it pulls a Transformer, becomes a wheel and rolls swiftly in your direction.

Yes, that sounds like bad sci-fi. But this is the Festo Bionic WheelBot.

On its website, Festo claims its mission is "to motivate, inspire and enthuse and to kick-start innovation." But why do innovative minds want to frighten us so?

The creepy-crawlie, says Festo, is a robotic re-creation of the flic-flac spider, which really does bound along as if it's the happiest spider on Earth. (See the video below.)

This Bionic WheelBot, which debuts at the Hannover Messe industrial-technology fair in April, just doesn't look like it's full of good cheer. 

Its legs are sharp and almost crab-like. As it begins to fold those leg inward to reinvent itself as a wheel, there's a sense of inevitable doom.

Any unsuspecting human suddenly seeing a robotic spider do this will surely have no idea what's coming. And, once the spider bot starts rolling, well, then it's too late.

Then again, Festo has tended to produce robots of a more benign nature than, say, the people at Boston Dynamics, whose robot dogs can already open doors

Still, robot manufacturers seem keen to reproduce spiders. Who can forget the sweet but creepy HEXA spider bot, which developers can turn into, oh, anything they want?

Perhaps, though, this would all be just fine if the spider was on our side. Wouldn't you like to frighten the mice in your house with a wheely scary (apologies) robot that hurtles toward them?

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