In Houston, researchers at Rice University have created a new field of research—dubbed necrobotics—with the invention of a dead spider claw machine.
In a paper published in Advanced Science, the team describes using a dead wolf spider to pick up small objects. Essentially, they superglued a dead spider to a syringe and puffed air through it. Without air, the spider’s flexor muscles were curled in—the natural state of a dead spider. The hydraulic pressure of the air caused the legs to extend.
They found that the necrobot could pick up 130% of the spider’s weight and the mechanism lasted about a thousand cycles.
“We understand that many people are put off by the sight of a spider, but from an engineering point of view, the spider’s mechanism of movement is very interesting,” lead author Faye Yap tells The Daily Beast. “It definitely warrants taking a closer look at these creatures, and learning more from them.”
“Because the necrobotic gripper has inherent compliance and camouflaging capabilities, we envision that we can deploy it in scientific fieldwork,” Yap adds. “For example, to capture and collect small insects and other live specimens without damaging them.”