Scientists Turned a Dead Spider into a Robot – Necrobotics

Scientists Turned a Dead Spider into a Robot – Necrobotics

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My name is Kayleigh Cecil and I am a recent graduate of Stevenson University. I majored in Medical Laboratory Science but would like to move into the science writing industry. I have always had a passion for science and would like to share my knowledge with others online. My main interests are biology, astronomy, and physics.

Usually, we tend to think that robots are made of metal, plastic, or some other nonliving material. After all, they aren’t alive, so why would they be made of any living tissue? However, it actually is possible to make robots out of living matter, even living matter that is now dead. Dead spider robots might sound like something from science fiction, but they’re actually real. Scientists at Rice University in Houston, Texas, reanimated a dead spider and used it to pick up objects, essentially turning it into a robot. 

Dead Spider Robots Come to Life

On July 25, 2022, scientists published a study in which they reanimated a dead wolf spider. They killed the spider by freezing it, and then stuck a syringe full of fluid in the dead spider. When the scientists pushed on the syringe, the spider’s legs clenched and unclenched, similar to a robotic gripper. They used the spider like a gripper to pick up other dead spiders and pull wires on a circuit board. Then, they repeated these steps with other dead spiders. 

Also Read – Hummingbird Colors: Why Hummingbirds Are the Rainbows of the Bird World

The reason why a spider’s legs clench when it dies is because of blood pressure. Dead spiders lose their blood pressure, so their legs clench. Living spiders have enough blood pressure to keep their legs unclenched. The fluid in the syringe acted like the spider’s blood, forcing its legs to unclench when the scientists injected the fluid into the spider.

The scientists found out that the smaller a spider is, the better it is at lifting larger objects. Small spiders like jumping spiders are very good at lifting large objects, while large spiders like tarantulas aren’t. Therefore, smaller robotic grippers may be better at lifting large objects than larger grippers.

In the future, scientists want to be able to make each of the legs of the dead spider move independently. A robotic gripper with claws that move independently would have a lot more dexterity, like a human hand. 

Necrobotics: A New Field of Robotics Research

This new field of research, which uses reanimated life forms as robots, is called necrobotics. Using things that were once alive as robots, scientists can get a better understanding of how to design more realistic and efficient robots in the future.

Reanimated corpses themselves aren’t durable like traditional “hard” robots, but nature can give scientists better ideas of how to design artificial devices. There is already a field of robotics called soft robotics, which uses robots made out of softer materials like carbon-fiber-reinforced polymers (CFRPs). Soft robots have advantages over hard robots, such as being safer for human interaction and being more flexible. Spiders, as well as octopuses, pine cone scales, plant cells, and pollen grains are some of the main sources of inspiration for soft robot designs. 

Of course, there are ethical questions surrounding necrobotics. When scientists are reanimating spiders, it doesn’t seem like a big deal to most people. But the thought of reanimating more complex organisms, such as vertebrates, may seem unnatural and unethical. Fortunately, scientists don’t have any plans to reanimate more complex life forms. 

Also Read – The Shelta Cave Crayfish: A Crustacean Thought to Be Extinct

A Promising Future for Robotics

Soft robots are almost like artificial life forms. They look, feel, and move like living things, which gives them an advantage over hard robots. Hard robots lack the more graceful and natural motion of living things. By designing robots that look and act more like things from nature, scientists may make people feel more comfortable about using robots. 

Credits – Rice University
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My name is Kayleigh Cecil and I am a recent graduate of Stevenson University. I majored in Medical Laboratory Science but would like to move into the science writing industry. I have always had a passion for science and would like to share my knowledge with others online. My main interests are biology, astronomy, and physics.