Why I Built Robotic Racing Spiders

By Jamie Hyneman

You don’t really need racing spiders, but trying to make them can be really rewarding.

When Evernote approached Adam and me and offered to support us in building anything we wanted, I suggested we make something that would never otherwise get made. Something that was unusual, that nobody in their right mind would take the trouble to do. Something I would build, just because I can!

And the first thing that came to mind was to build big spiders that would be super fast and use a tendon-like system to pull the legs around. I would use synthetic fibers that were ultra light but stronger than steel, and guide them with pulleys. Lots of pulleys. I mean, with cables and pulleys you can lift tremendous weights. While we did not need to move lots of weight in this case, I figured that the load on pulling something like a leg around really fast can be huge, and break normal mechanical things.

So I designed these spiders with all this in mind. Unfortunately, I wasn't going to be able to build them entirely myself because I was going on tour in Australia with Adam. I decided to engage the services of what used to be the Industrial Light & Magic model shop -- now they’ve formed a company called Kernerworks -- and use Evernote to manage and keep tabs on the project from the road! Through our back and forth, we documented the whole process of building the spiders, because this kind of thing is all about the process.

You don’t really need racing spiders, but trying to make them can be really rewarding. We wanted to show that, and thanks to Evernote, I think we succeeded.

For additional behind the scenes footage, Jamie's build notes and photos, check out https://evernote.com/projects/