The field of robotics has always looked to nature for inspiration. Researchers have often taken cues from the animal kingdom to design robots that can move and operate in unique ways. Recently, a team of researchers from Rice University has explored the use of dead spiders in creating versatile grippers for robots, called “necrobotic” grippers. Spider legs are renowned for their unique structure, with multiple segments and specialised hairs that allow them to tightly grip a wide range of surfaces. By repurposing these legs, researchers have created a versatile and practical robotic gripper that can be used in various applications, from manufacturing to medical procedures.
Creating necrobotic grippers involves first sourcing dead spiders and carefully removing their legs. The researchers then treat the legs to ensure they are clean and free from contaminants. Once the legs have been prepared, they are attached to a robotic arm and controlled using specialised software. One of the significant advantages of necrobotic grippers is their versatility. Because spider legs are naturally adaptable to various surfaces, these grippers can be used in multiple applications. For example, they could be used in manufacturing to pick up and move small objects precisely or in medical procedures to grip and manipulate delicate tissues. Another advantage of necrobotic grippers is their potential cost-effectiveness. Using dead spiders, researchers can create grippers at a lower cost than if they were to design and manufacture a specialised robotic gripper from scratch. This makes them an attractive option for a wide range of industries.
Of course, there are some limitations to the use of necrobotic grippers. For example, the legs of different spider species have other properties, meaning that grippers made from different spiders may have different strengths and weaknesses. Additionally, there may be ethical concerns surrounding using animal parts in robotics. The development of necrobotic grippers is an exciting development in robotics. By taking inspiration from nature, researchers have created a versatile, cost-effective, and effective tool. As research in this area continues, we may see even more innovative uses of necrobotic grippers in the future.