Dead spiders reanimated as creepy ‘necrobots’

The spider ‘necrobot’ is used to lift up a component from of an electrical circuit. (Image credit: Preston Innovation Laboratory/Rice University)

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Taking a dead spider’s lifeless body and reanimating it as a robot is an idea that would be the stuff of nightmares for most people. But scientists aren’t most people. Recently, a team of researchers turned the corpses of wolf spiders into arcade-style claw machines that could pick up and move a variety of objects — including other dead wolf spiders.   

The idea for the mechanized arachnid grippers, or “necrobots,” first came about when researchers noticed a dead spider curled up in a ball in a corner of their engineering lab. After looking up why the legs of dead spiders always seem to end up pulled tightly toward their abdomens, the scientists learned that spider joints were controlled through a hydraulic pressure system that fails when the arachnids die. The team then realized that they could reverse engineer this hydraulic system to hijack the spider’s corpse and give it a second life as a machine.

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