Image: Rice University/YouTube/Reproduction
When spiders die, they automatically contract their legs. There’s an explanation: arachnids use hydraulic systems to move the single flexor muscle in each of their legs. That is, they have a chamber near the head responsible for sending blood to the limbs, forcing them to extend. Without the stimulus, contraction occurs.
Now, scientists from Rice University, in the USA, decided to take advantage of the simple mechanism of the paw of these animals. They are turning dead spiders into “robot claws”, an activity they dub as necrobotics.
According to the researchers, the use of spider corpses would be an effective, biodegradable and inexpensive alternative to current robotic systems. The full study was published in the journal Advanced Science.
The team decided to control wolf spiders from a needle stuck in their cephalothorax, capable of releasing air and controlling the opening and closing of the arachnid’s legs. During tests, the animal claw was able to lift objects up to 130% of its body weight.
According to the scientists, the tool has a lifespan of up to 1,000 cycles – a number that can be increased by applying polymeric coatings to your joints.
For now, the study is nothing more than a proof of concept, that is, a demonstration that using spiders as robotic claws works.
In the future, the researchers hope to apply the arachnids in the assembly of microelectronics or even in the capture of small insects in the environment, since spiders are naturally camouflaged beings.