Nature’s robotic hands – TechCrunch

It wasn’t a story you expected to read today, nor one I expected to write. Heck, judging from their talks on the subject, it’s probably fair to say that the team of mechanical engineers at Rice University didn’t expect their work to take them down this path either.

And yet, we’re all here, discussing dead spiders as “necrobotic claws.”

Picture credits: rice university

In what may well be a case of bio-inspired robotics gone too far, researchers are exploring how dead arachnids can double as a robotic claw using hydraulic pressure.

Spiders use blood pressure to move their legs. When they die, their heart stops beating, causing them to lose that hydraulic pressure. This is why they curl up into a ball when they die. Turns out pairing them with a syringe full of air makes for a handy ready-to-use robotic gripper.

“This area of ​​soft robotics is a lot of fun because we can use previously untapped types of actuation and materials,” assistant professor of engineering Daniel Preston said in a statement. “Spider falls into that line of inquiry. It’s something that hasn’t been used before, but has a lot of potential.

That potential includes the assembly of microelectronics, according to Preston. Honestly, it’s hard to imagine anyone selling dead wolf spiders on a large scale, but they’re surprisingly hardy, going through around 1,000 open-close cycles before their joints start to break down. Although this could potentially be solved by adding a polymer coating to the biodegradable system.

Interestingly (not that all of this isn’t particularly interesting), the smaller the spider, the more it is able to lift in proportion to its own weight.

Picture credits: rice university

Leave a Comment