Itsy Bitsy Spiders: Your robotic best friends?

Most people find spiders pretty unappealing.  As an engineer, I find them inspiring even though I do not like them anywhere around me in my home.  I grew up in New York City where black widow spiders were extremely common, especially in your basement.  I knew their bite was poisonous but they mostly stayed to themselves in dark dank areas.  It was the spiders that spun huge precise webs in between bushes that truly impressed me with their handiwork.  I would often catch flies and moths and feed them to watch what they did to encase them for use to feed their young.

Now, curious people have found a remarkable use for dead spiders taking advantage of their leg actuation mechanisms.  Unlike mammals and other animals, spiders do not have opposing muscles to move their legs.  Their limbs are essentially on rubber bands that stretch to open using internal body pressure.  Remove the internal body pressure and they curl up.  That is why dead spiders all look the way they do.

Take a look at this research from IEEE Spectrum:

Best of all, they are biodegradable when your done!  End of story, right?

Don’t be so lazy.  The simplicity of this solution should make us rethink the approach to the problem.  If it was this easy to take a dead bug and make a gripper, perhaps the whole approach to gripping you see in today’s robots should be rethought.

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