'Mantis:' the monster-sized hexapod robot

Story highlights

  • Robot is biggest all-terrain operational hexapod in the world, according to UK creators
  • "Mantis" weighs 1.9 tons and is nearly three meters tall
  • Chief engineer Matt Denton inspired by AT-AT walkers in "The Empire Strikes Back"

Stomping through the fields and industrial wastelands of Britain, this giant six-legged walking robot is a world first, say its creators.

Weighing in at 1,900 kilograms (4,190 pounds) and measuring 2.8 meters (9.1 feet) tall, Mantis is the biggest all-terrain operational hexapod in the world, according to Winchester-based animatronics and robotics company Micromagic Systems.

Chief engineer Matt Denton spent three years designing and testing the machine before completing a successful test drive last year.

Denton started building hexapods in 2001 -- his smaller robots have even featured in the "Harry Potter" film series.

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"My fascination with walking machines started at a young age watching sci-fi films such as 'The Empire Strikes Back,'" he explains.

"Seeing the imposing images of an AT-AT (All Terrain Armored Transport) walking across a snowscape really got me fascinated with the concept of using legged locomotion on vehicles."

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    Mantis has already cost Denton "hundreds of thousands of pounds," but there are still plenty of engineering challenges to overcome, he says.

    The hydraulic power pack and legs could be "much lighter and more efficient" while the 2.2-liter turbo diesel engine would benefit from being "more modern."

    Denton hopes to show off the fruits of his labor at events around the UK this summer.