For several centuries, humans have used nature to create useful tools for man. For example, the skins of dead animals are used to create cloth and clothing in general or the bones that are sharpened to create arrows and tools. why not use dead spiders as robots?
Rice University engineers successfully transformed dead spiders into robotic “handles.” But how did they come to the conclusion that spiders would serve the world of robotics? Thanks to its flexibility. While a human moves its limbs using pairs of muscles like the biceps and triceps, spiders’ legs work with a single muscle. Said ‘flexor’ muscle is responsible for pulling the leg inwards. This movement is opposed by a hydraulic system that is a kind of chamber in the center of the spider known as a prosoma. This system expels a liquid that opens the legs and allows the animal to control each leg independently.
Knowing this about arachnids, the Rice University team found that they could manipulate the hydraulic system simply by sticking a needle into the prosoma. In this way, they can push air in and out to open and close the spider’s legs. We can compare it to claw game machines, which work in a similar way.
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They called this new area of research “necrobotics” with which they intend to create more economical, effective and biodegradable alternatives that fit current robotic systems. “The concept of necrobotics proposed in this work takes advantage of unique designs created by nature that can be complicated or even impossible to replicate artificially,” they argue in an article published in the journal Advanced Science. “It just so happens that the spider, after his death, is the perfect architecture for naturally derived small-scale tweezers,” Daniel Preston of Rice’s George R. Brown School of Engineering said in a press release.
For now, the work is proof of concept, but Preston commented that this project may have many applications in the future. You can see the robotic spider in action in the video shared by the researchers:
Image: Rice University