Dawn of creating biohybrid robots in the future: Scientists turn dead spiders into robots

Sci­en­tists have now become suc­cess­ful to turn dead spi­ders into robots, sig­nal­ing towards the dawn of cre­at­ing bio­hy­brid robots in the future.

As report­ed on July 25 in Advanced Sci­ence,  sci­en­tists, work­ing in a field known as “necro­bot­ics”, con­vert­ed wolf spi­der corpses into manip­u­la­tive grip­pers.  The only thing the team need­ed to do was insert a syringe into the back of a dead spi­der and super­glue it in place. Its legs clench open and shut as researchers pushed flu­id into and out of the corpse.

Accord­ing to Faye Yap, a mechan­i­cal engi­neer at Rice Uni­ver­si­ty in Hous­ton, the idea was born from a sim­ple ques­tion: Why do spi­ders curl up when they die?

And the answer is spi­ders are hydraulic machines, which con­trol how much their legs extend by forc­ing blood into them. As a dead spi­der no longer has that blood pres­sure, its legs curl up.

Yap and her team first tried putting dead wolf spi­ders in a dou­ble boil­er, hop­ing that the wet heat would make the spi­ders expand and push their legs out­ward. That ini­tial­ly didn’t work. How­ev­er, when the researchers inject­ed flu­id straight into a spi­der corpse, they found that they could con­trol its grip well enough to pull wires from a cir­cuit board and pick up oth­er dead spi­ders. The necro­bots start­ed to become dehy­drat­ed and show signs of wear only after hun­dreds of uses.

The research­es say that they will coat spi­ders with a sealant to hold off that decline in the future. But, Yap said that the next big step is to con­trol the spi­ders’ legs indi­vid­u­al­ly and in the process, fig­ure out more about how spi­ders work. After that her team could trans­late their under­stand­ing into bet­ter designs for oth­er robots.

Recommended: Researchers Built Innovative Nanorobot Entirely from DNA 

Won­der­ing whether it’s okay to play Franken­stein, even with spi­ders, Yap says, “No one real­ly talks about the ethics when it comes to this sort of research”.

This research has sig­naled towards the pos­si­bil­i­ty of cre­at­ing a new class of bio­hy­brid robots, which are are expect­ed to be able to do work in harsh envi­ron­ments, such as the deep sea. These would have the abil­i­ty to move through water with­out a pro­peller. For exam­ple, Vir­ginia Tech Col­lege of Engi­neer­ing researchers in 2013 had unveiled a life-like, autonomous robot­ic jel­ly­fish the size and weight of a grown man, 5 foot 7 inch­es in length and weigh­ing 170 pounds.

This study is an exam­ple of how engi­neer­ing and biol­o­gy can be com­bined for the cre­ation of new tech­no­log­i­cal tools and applications.

Source here

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