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Necrobotics: Scientists Reanimate Dead Spiders As Robot Gripping Claws

I'm really not sure what purpose this serves, but there must be a point aside from scaring the shit out of all arachnophobes. ...

The purpose is to re-purpose dead biological units so as to take advantage of their quite sophisticated physical capabilities. Such capabilities aren't readily replicable with machinery.

It's an interesting concept - using zombie corpses as machine parts.

In a way, it's the inverse of bionic / cyborg visions from a half-century or more ago. Instead of crafting machines to incorporate into biological bodies, these researchers are playing with the notion of adapting intricate biological structures for incorporation into artificial devices.

They even have a label for it: necrobotics.

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Why bother to design your own robots when you can just reuse what nature created?

This was the thought process behind a research project from engineers at Rice University who successfully transformed dead spiders into robotic gripping claws. The scientists have dubbed their new area of research “necrobotics” and say it could create cheap, effective, and biodegradable alternatives to current robotic systems.

So why spiders? Well, while humans move their limbs using pairs of antagonistic muscles, like biceps and triceps, spiders’ legs contain only a single flexor muscle that draws the leg inward. This is opposed by a hydraulic system: a chamber in the center of the spider’s body (known as a prosoma) pushes out fluid to open the leg, with separate valves allowing the animal to control each limb independently. Incidentally, this is why spiders always curl up when they die; there’s no pressure in the system to oppose the legs’ flexor muscles.

Armed with this knowledge, the team from Rice University discovered they could artificially operate this hydraulic system simply by sticking a needle into a dead spider’s prosoma, pushing air in and out to open and close the spider’s legs like an arcade claw machine.


maximus otter