Spiders are unbeatable when it comes to catching insects. But a research team from Texas is of the opinion that the eight legs can be used for all sorts of other things – once the spider is dead.
Thinking of converting it into a gripper arm when you see a dead spider requires a lot of imagination. A team of researchers from Texas’ Rice University did just that. A “soft robotics” project took dead wolf spiders and used their legs as prehensile arms for delicate electronic components.
The team calls this new form of robotics “necrobotics,” a neologism of the terms “necro” and “robotics,” meaning “corpse robotics.” The spiders use a syringe to control the dead animals, which pumps air into the spider’s abdomen.
Legs out, legs in
This technique works because spiders don’t use opposing pairs of muscles to move their legs, they use hydraulic pressure to move. When the animal – or the syringe – pumps liquid into its legs, they stretch out.
After the “conversion” was successful, the researchers determined the gripping power of the spider. 0.35 millinewtons were measured, which is enough, for example, to pick up tiny components that would easily be damaged with conventional tools.
But just because something works doesn’t mean it has to be suitable for the masses. In the opinion of the research team, however, it is. The scientific work and the video of the scientists say: “The concept of necrobotics proposed in this work takes advantage of unique constructions created by nature that are difficult or impossible to replicate artificially. One of the applications, For which we can imagine this is fine work, for example in microelectronic devices.”
Audience is not enthusiastic
The comments on Youtube are rather critical. One person writes that there are so many alternatives to this invention that he only sees disadvantages. For example the decay of the tools or the space that the outstretched spider would need to reach the goal. Another person criticizes the idea of breeding spiders just to use them as claws.
Most are just disgusted and wondering why they’re playing with dead spiders. Few encourage the researchers to continue the experiments.
Quellen: Advanced Science, Rice University