Arachnophobes beware: if you're already scared of spiders, you'll be terrified of this invention. Engineers have recently unveiled a gigantic robotic spider that can be piloted by a human passenger, according to Gizmag.

The vehicle, called the Mantis, looks like something straight out of a video game or comic book in the 'mecha' genre. And yes, it really can be driven. Imagine taking this beast out for a test drive!

Mantis is the brainchild of Matt Denton, founder of Micromagic Systems, and has been four years in the making. The project is the realization of Denton's dream of one day building a walking robot that's big enough to carry a human passenger. In fact, Mantis is being described as "the biggest, all-terrain operational hexapod robot in the world." It weighs in at a massive 4,188 pounds and stands at over 9 feet tall. It is powered using hydraulics and a Perkins 2.2 liter turbo diesel engine.

"This is definitely the largest hexapod we have built so far," said Denton. Note that he said "so far."

You can witness Mantis being piloted in dramatic fashion in the following video, which looks more like a promo for a new Hollywood sci-fi blockbuster:

The epic nature of the video is perhaps not surprising, given that Micromagic Systems is also in the business of producing animatronics for the film and television industry. In fact, Denton's team was responsible for building a six-legged turtle that appeared in the Harry Potter films.

Mantis is also equipped with a variety of sensors that help it to walk, including force transducers, angle sensors, and an inclinometer. Computer software helps to organize the movements of the legs so that the robot doesn't trip over itself. It doesn't move incredibly fast, but it is capable of navigating over rugged terrain that would stop a wheeled vehicle in its tracks. So Mantis is more than just a toy. A machine like this could be used for traveling places where roads don't go - or possibly even for exploring other planets.

And there is good news for those of you who have already added "drive a giant robotic spider" to your bucket list: Mantis isn't just a prototype reserved for the laboratory. Micromagic Systems is actually making it available for rent.

You can check out more about Mantis and other projects from Micromagic Systems at their website here.

Bryan Nelson ( @@brynelson ) writes about everything from environmental problems here on Earth to big questions in space.

Engineers unveil giant robot spider that you can drive
Imagine taking this bad boy out for a test drive: the Mantis, the world's largest all-terrain hexapod robot that can be driven by a human pilot.