The researchers think that using the bodies of deceased spiders would reduce “a waste stream,” since these are “biodegradable”.
Scientists at Rice University, Texas (USA), made public this Monday a study on how the corpses of deceased arachnids can be used as mechanical tweezers with the ability to grasp heavy and irregularly shaped objects.
According to those responsible for the study, published in the journal Advanced Science, This brand-new discovery may give rise to a new field of scientific research called ‘necrobotic‘, allowing scientists to use biotic objects as components of robotics.
“This area of ’soft robotics’ is a lot of fun because we can use types of actuation and materials that haven’t been exploited before,” said researcher Daniel Preston, who pointed out that “the spider falls into this line of research” and that “it is something that has not been used before, but has a lot of potentials.”
Spiders move their limbs through a mechanism that depends on the hydraulic pressure of your blood, unlike humans or other mammals who contract and relax their muscles to generate movement. This is because arachnids have a chamber near their heads that contracts to send blood to their legs, causing them to open. In case the pressure of the blood fluid is lower, its extremities are closed.
Creating a ‘necrobotic’ claw
According to scientists, the movement of a dead wolf spider’s legs can be manipulated by applying pressure to internal valves, located in its body’s hydraulic chamber, known as the prosoma. This results in the creation of a ‘necrobiotic’ pincer which was achieved after applying air. One of the ways to insert air is through a manual syringe, injecting it into the prosoma of the arachnid.
Tests showed that the gripper was capable of lifting more than 130% of its body weight. They also performed around 1,000 repetitions of opening and closing to check the function and duration of the limbs. However, in Preston’s words, there is wear after 1,000 repetitions and it is suspected that “it is related to problems of dehydration of his joints”. “We think we can overcome this by applying polymeric coatings,” he said.
Lastly, Daniel Preston mentioned that “the spiders themselves are biodegradable”, and for that reason, they are not generating “a large waste stream, which can be a problem with more traditional components”.
“Even though it looks like it might have come back to life, we’re sure it’s inanimate, and we’re using it in this case strictly as a spider-derived material that some once lived”, specified the scientist, concluding that the insect “is providing them with something really useful”.
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