The mental image of a space-blackened Tripod stomping through Victorian London, thrashing bridges and clock towers with its alloyed tentacles and melting the armies of Her Majesty with her heat ray into puddles of goo like so many wax figurines… well, it’s always had a certain grisly appeal to me. That’s why the implausible, alien war machines of H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds are, for me, the most fantastic of all the alien spacecraft that the genre has voided from its imagination.
Hollywood has never quite gotten the Tripod right, though. George Pals’ Tripods didn’t even have any legs, for chrissakes, and while Stephen Spielberg came close, he got the movement of Tripods wrong.
“He got it wrong?” you ask incredulously, wondering how anyone could be so anal. But if you think about the way his Tripods move, it becomes clear almost immediately that a Tripod can’t easily lift one leg without simply toppling over. Or, as Mr. Hyde said in the Second Volume of Alan Moore’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (right before he rips the leg of a Tripod off with his bare hands), “God saw fit to make a lot of ugly creatures on this Earth, but he never saw fit to create any of them with three legs. Why do you think that is?”
The video embedded above shows an experimental robot called STRiDER (Self-Excited Tripedial Dynamic Experimental Robot) that has been created by Virginia Tech. Extrapolate that cute, waist-high little robot to tower above Big Ben. Now that’s what a Tripod would look like tearing its way through London. Mount a flesh-liquefying heat ray to its mouth, program it to feed off of human blood, and you’ve got yourself a working prototype for a real life Tripod. Awesome.
STRiDER 2.0’s First Step [YouTube]Read More