Videos Scientists from Rice University in Texas used a dead spider as a motor on the end of the robot’s arm – a feat they claim began in the field of ‘necobots’.
The authors mentioned in an article called Necrobotics: Biomaterials Ready-to-Use Actuators. The article also notes that evolution has perfected many designs that could be useful in robotics, and spiders have proven particularly interesting. Spiders’ legs “do not have antagonistic muscle pairs; instead, they only have flexor muscles that contract their legs inward, and the blood pressure (i.e. blood) produced in the myoma (the part of the body attached to the legs) extends their legs outward.”
The authors had a hunch that if they could generate and control a force equivalent to blood pressure, they could make the dead spider’s legs move in and out, allowing them to grab and release objects again.
So they killed the wolf spider “by being exposed to freezing temperature (about -4 degrees Celsius) for 5-7 days” and then used a syringe to inject the spider’s prosoma with glue.
By leaving the syringe in place and pumping or pulling the glue, the researchers were able to make the spider’s legs contract and contract. This is the vid of the necrobot at work, turning off the light.
The article claims that this is a much easier way to make a clutch compared to traditional robotic techniques that require all sorts of painstaking manufacturing and design efforts.
The necrobot took over tightly. The article states that “the grit gripper is capable of gripping objects of irregular geometry and up to 130 percent of its mass.” Other benefits include biodegradability and excellent camouflage when used outdoors. Disadvantages include being scary as everyone gets out as shown in the video below which depicts a dead spider lifting another.
The article looks at the ethics of spiders, but notes that “there are currently no clear guidelines in the literature regarding the ethical sourcing and euthanasia of spiders.”
Therefore, “the authors purchased our spiders from a scientific product supplier and followed the euthanasia methods presented in a previous work.”
But they are unsure that these methods are appropriate, as they are designed to keep spiders for examination under a microscope. The authors are unsure that these methods are the best way to preserve spiders to use as robots. Suggestion for further study is required.
The authors conclude that “our work here provides the first step in this new avenue of research, which we anticipate will extend to the movement of microorganisms by operating each spider’s leg independently,” which doesn’t sound like nightmarish stuff at all. They would also like to work on “biomaterials derived from other organisms with similar hydraulic properties”.
Which makes concerns about the rise of machines seem strange, now that we have concerns about the rise of machines that use zombie spiders. ®
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