While we’ve seen a number of robotic grippers inspired by various animals, US scientists have now taken a much more “direct” approach. They devised a method that uses actual dead spiders to delicately capture small objects.
Unlike mammals, which move their limbs by stretching and contracting opposing muscles, spiders move their legs by hydraulic pressure. More specifically, they have a “prosoma chamber” located near the head that sends blood into the leg when it contracts – this causes the leg to lengthen. When the pressure is released, the legs close.
Led by Asst. Professor Daniel Preston and graduate student Faye Yap, a research team at Texas’ Rice University, set out to see if they could trigger such movements themselves in dead wolf spiders. Scientists have named the field of study “necrosis”.
The process begins with the death of a spider, after which a needle is inserted into its prosoma chamber. Then, apply a drop of glue to the needle insertion point to keep the needle in place.
Use a syringe attached arrive that needle, a small amount of air is then pushed into the cavity, causing the pins to open. When the air is sucked back out of the chamber, the pins close. In the tests performed to date, the spider-based necrotic gripper was able to lift more than 130% of the spider’s body weight.
According to the researchers, a spider carcass lasts for about 1,000 open/close cycles before its tissues begin to degenerate. It is hoped that adding a polymer coating can increase the lifespan.
Besides being a rather macabre subject of scientific research, necrotic tongs could have a number of practical uses.
“There are a lot of pick and place tasks we can look at, repetitive tasks like sorting or moving objects around at these small scales, and maybe even,” says Preston. are things like assembling microelectronics”. “Also, the spiders themselves are also biodegradable. So we don’t introduce a large waste stream, which can be an issue with more traditional ingredients.”
An article on the research was recently published in the journal Advanced Science. The clamp is illustrated in the following video.
The laboratory manipulates the legs of dead spiders with a stream of air to act as a grabber
Source: Rice University