back to article Scientists use dead spider as gripper for robot arm, label it a 'Necrobot'

Scientists from Rice University in Texas have used a dead spider as an actuator at the end of a robot arm – a feat they claim has initiated the field of "necrobotics". "Humans have relied on biotic materials – non-living materials derived from living organisms – since their early ancestors wore animal hides as clothing and …

  1. ravenviz Silver badge

    And once again we find another way of abusing life on Earth.

    1. Plest Silver badge

      I was thinking same thing. Sure it's just an insect but it was a living thing, spiders have shown basic intelligence and some simple problem solving. So we abuse them into death and then continue to abuse a living thing's corpse just to prove a point.

      Nothing new I guess, we've always been a nasty, abusive little species when we want to be and hence why the earth is now in such a bloody awful state. No, I'm not a green dippy hippy, just a realist.

      1. jmch Silver badge
        Boffin

        I get, and agree with, all of that...

        ...and yet the part of me that isn't creeped out found myself thinking that this is exactly the absolutely weird, oddball, yet fun and even somewhat cool stuff that I love coming to the Register to read about...

      2. 2+2=5 Silver badge
        Black Helicopters

        > Sure it's just an insect

        Ahem, arachnid if you don't mind. :-)

        [Icon: Warning - dangling spiders ahead!]

    2. JDX Gold badge

      Using, not abusing.

      1. JDPower666 Silver badge

        Surely killing a creature is the most extreme form of abuse going. Never mind doing so just to play with its dead body.

        1. MrDamage Silver badge

          At least we have the decency to kill it humanely first, unlike dolphins, sea lions, cats, and countless other species.

          1. jake Silver badge

            Indeed. I kill to eat, and I make no bones about it. It's called "food chain" and "apex predator" ... I'm just a trifle less mentally abusive than your average Puma/Mountain Lion. Terrified dinner tastes awful.

            Ever notice that there are no vegan ecosystems on Earth?

            1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

              "Ever notice that there are no vegan ecosystems on Earth? "

              True. On the other hand, predator/prey ecosystems are usually self-balancing. If the predators grow too numerous and eat too much of the prey, the predators starve and die back and the prey species recovers. That part of it doesn't really happen where humans are the predator. Famine due to "over preying" or other reasons in one part of the world means we ship food and humanitarian aid from other bits of the world to maintain the numbers of predators.

              1. Snowy Silver badge
                Facepalm

                Shipping food from other parts of the world works until there is no other parts of the world to ship food from.

              2. jake Silver badge

                I don't disagree with your analysis, but try to remember that the entire planet is our (human) ecosystem. We, as a group, haven't reached the point of world-wide famine.

                Yet. It'll happen, because humans as a group are incredibly stupid.

                1. jmch Silver badge

                  "We, as a group, haven't reached the point of world-wide famine.

                  Yet. It'll happen, because humans as a group are incredibly stupid."

                  Global population is expected to peak within next 50 years and then start to decline. Smaller families are a natural by-product of more wealth. China's population is already shrinking, and as other countries in SE Asia and, eventually, Africa, grow richer they will follow suit. Global population is predicted to peak at 9-10 billion.

                  Yes, humans as a group can behave in incredibly stupid ways, but humans can also be resourceful, clever, and occasionally do some pretty awesome things. So it's a bumpy road, but I don't think it will ever come to world-wide famine.

                  Not that I'd be around by that time, anyway

                  1. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Some developed countries are electing governments who are actively pursuing policies to increase their populations. Theocracy is on the rise. Their ideology often mandates that they must multiply their group members - and in some cases they deny other groups the right to limit their reproduction.

        2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

          "Surely killing a creature is the most extreme form of abuse going."

          I'm pretty sure that doing the same experiment but keeping the spider alive would have been more abusive.

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Like beetles with electronics glued to the heads, electrodes implanted and using them as remote control robots. Already been done. This latest spider thing is far more "humane" by comparison and at least as creepy.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Like beetles with electronics glued to the heads, electrodes implanted and using them as remote control robot

              ...or dogs used as anti-tank weapons during WW2, the Acoustikitty from days of cold war espionage, Blue Peacock (the chicken-powered tactical nuclear landmine)....we have something of a track record when it comes to exploiting animals beyond the food chain.

              1. Evil Scot

                That failed if I remember because of poor or excellent pattern matching techniques of the dogs,

              2. werdsmith Silver badge

                Pigeon guided bombs was another one.

  2. Inkey
    Gimp

    require all sorts of tedious fabrication and design efforts

    NOPE NOPE AND NOPE

    How is this ever going to have a practical use

    creepy af ..... and how will the patent work

    1. Trollslayer
      Black Helicopters

      Re: require all sorts of tedious fabrication and design efforts

      With a spider?

  3. Natalie Gritpants Jr Silver badge

    Rise of the machines?

    I'm not worried. I have a cat.

    1. LogicGate

      Re: Rise of the machines?

      Nope.. You don't have a cat.

      A cat has you.

      It needs your hands to open cans of cat-food.

      Whether those hands are alive or dead is of little consequence.

      1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

        I doubt that a cat would remain anywhere near a dead body for long.

        I don't think they'd like the smell.

        1. LogicGate

          You have obviously not read enough reports about what happens when the lonely cat-woman dies...

          Do not go googling /duckduckgoing

        2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          "I don't think they'd like the smell."

          Clearly you are not a cat person. They tend to like the most foul smelling cat-foods and turn their noses up at the one we think smells almost passable. Mine like a bit of fish, chicken or even "gourmet" cat food now and then, but much prefer the foul smelling, cheap stuff as their daily "go to".

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Rise of the machines?

        dead human hands do have a consequence in cat context, in extreme cases they can be nibbled on. You think I'm joking, eh? :(

      3. Kane Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: Rise of the machines?

        "It needs your hands to open cans of cat-food."

        Cats will amusingly tolerate humans only until someone comes up with a tin opener that can be operated with a paw.

        - Terry Pratchett, Men at Arms

        GNU

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Rise of the machines?

          "until someone comes up with a tin opener that can be operated with a paw."

          At which point humanity will die after rodents over breed and destroy our food supply.

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: Rise of the machines?

            I should add that Skogkatts seem to be in the middle of inheriting the Earth. Some have a proto-opposable thumb, which allows them to descend from trees head-first, among other interesting things ... but operating the can-opener doesn't seem to be one of them. At least the ones that live here haven't demonstrated this skill. Yet. Not that I know of, anyway ...

            1. Lon24 Silver badge

              Re: Rise of the machines?

              This is getting silly.

              Pet food companies now use pouches - 'cos even our brightest boffins in two millennia have yet to build a can opener that can reliably fully open cans. They are almost there but they always fail about 3/4 way round. Designed to exposing a nice cutting edge to thwart further efforts by hand and thumb.

              1. TRT Silver badge

                Re: Rise of the machines?

                Or alternatively spend two hours every fortnight boiling a chicken, removing all the meat, cutting it up, putting it in little jars, adding juices from the pot and then freezing it, taking out one pot a day and microwaving it for the furry little bugger?

                Yes, we do go to extraordinary lengths for our feline overlords.

                1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

                  Re: Rise of the machines?

                  Not complaining. At least the little bastards pay my salary! (Well, their slaves pay my salary but from my point of view it's the same thing.)

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Rise of the machines?

                'cos even our brightest boffins in two millennia have yet to build a can opener that can reliably fully open cans

                I actually bought a can opener whose principle was unknown to me until I saw this excellent video and it works astonishingly well.

                As a matter of fact, it works so well that it allows you to open a can and then re-fit the lid in such a fashion that you could use it to prank someone - it's hardly visible the can has been opened.

                I call that innovative, and if it wasn't for most cans now having a pull tab I suspect I would be using it a lot on account of far better engineering. And I still might, because a tab-opened can cannot be re-closed - opened with this can-opener it can.

                1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

                  Re: Rise of the machines?

                  "I actually bought a can opener whose principle was unknown to me until I saw this excellent video and it works astonishingly well."

                  Well, that's 20 minutes of my life I'll never get back. TWENTY whole MINUTES about a tin opener FFS! But it was weirdly and strangely fascinating. Somehow, I feel cheated and satisfied at the same time. You git!!

                  1. alexdonald

                    Re: Rise of the machines?

                    Seconded. In your comment's entirety!

                  2. jmch Silver badge
                    Thumb Up

                    Re: Rise of the machines?

                    I have one of those can openers which my wife bought at some point, probably just to have one. We mostly buy fresh food or jars, and the cans we get have pull-tops or the 'corned-beef-tin' key opening. First time I came to use it (no instructions of course), I had to work it out, and it was also weird as even while opening, it doesn't look as though anything is happening right until the whole lid is off.

                    But once started with it, I would never go back to a traditional opener, the way it leaves no sharp edges at all and the lid doesn't fall in is a great improvement on the old kind.

                    The 20-min vid is kind of overkill though :)

                    1. 2+2=5 Silver badge
                      Pint

                      Re: Rise of the machines?

                      > the way it leaves no sharp edges at all and the lid doesn't fall in is a great improvement on the old kind

                      Is the top of the can not sharp though? In the sense of covering a half-used can with clingfilm to put into the fridge and finding the can edge cuts through it?

                      > and the lid doesn't fall in

                      You need to practice your edging technique: take a traditional opener, work around the rim and just as everything is about to let go - hold back!

                      Leave the last 2mm and this makes a hinge that stops the lid falling in. When the can is empty, you just fold the lid down into the can and the sharp edges don't slice your trash bags open when emptying the kitchen bin.

                      The cans I hate are the ones with a ring pull - you have to remove the whole lid; the edges are razor sharp; it needs a lot of force so risks slopping the contents; and if your fingers are even slightly arthritic you have to buy a helper gadget from a disability shop. :-(

                      [Icon: an example of produce that comes in cans that no one has a problem opening.]

                      1. LogicGate

                        Re: Rise of the machines?

                        You are doing it wrong as well!

                        start opening the normal way, but when ca. 2 cm ( 4/5") is left uncut, "jump" the can-opener ca. 5 mm (1/5 "), and continue opening until ca. 5 mm is left. This not only yields the desired "hinge, the last opening action will lever the can open for you, sparing you a lot of fishing around for the lid.

                        1. jake Silver badge

                          Re: Rise of the machines?

                          Me, I just pop the top (usually using a spoon for a lever), and put the lid back on and screw a ring down to seal it for refrigeration until I use the remainder.

                          Oh, you mean those store-bought metal can-things.

                          I (re)use mason jars, as gawd/ess intended.

                      2. jmch Silver badge

                        Re: Rise of the machines?

                        "Is the top of the can not sharp though?"

                        Surprisingly, no, though I am unsure of what sort of voodoo they work to make it so. The edge of the lid is also not sharp. I mean, neither is something you would want to push against with force, but they're blunt enough to rule out painful and bloody accidents. They also aren't sharp enough to slash any garbage bags (though in my case they anyway go to can recycling bin, no bag required)

                        "You need to practice your edging technique..."

                        That's in fact what I used to do when using a traditional opener (including the bit about levering the lid edge up with the last twist of the opener as suggested by the next reply from LogicGate), but with the new type it's far easier.

                        "The cans I hate are the ones with a ring pull"

                        Seconded!! (these can still be opened with a can opener, usually better and safer than with the ring pull)

                      3. jake Silver badge

                        Re: Rise of the machines?

                        "You need to practice your edging technique"

                        As the actress said to the bishop ...

                2. ITS Retired

                  Re: Rise of the machines?

                  I have one of those can openers. I ignore the pull tab and use the can opener on them. No sharp edges.

                3. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Rise of the machines?

                  I bought one of those from a bargain bin a few years ago. But it didn't come with any instructions and I couldn't figure out how to work it.

                  Now I wish I hadn't thrown it out.

                  The problem with most can openers is that the traction cog is made of cheap metal that is too soft and the teeth don't grip the rim of the can so it just wheelspins.

                4. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Rise of the machines?

                  My original Leatherman Super Tool has a P-38-like can opener which works surprisingly well. The length of the tool adds a lot if extra leverage. As others have commented, the trick is to not quite cut all the way around. At the last moment the lid tends to pop up by itself.

                  The one from the video looks good, though. I may have to get one.

              3. Robert Grant Silver badge

                Re: Rise of the machines?

                > Designed to exposing a nice cutting edge

                Of course. This will be your last defence against the necrobiotic swarm!

      4. jake Silver badge

        Re: Rise of the machines?

        Dogs have owners.

        Cats have staff.

        1. MrDamage Silver badge

          Re: Rise of the machines?

          Cats: Fiercely independent and proud, yet utterly reliant upon a system in place for their benefit

          See also: libertarian.

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: Rise of the machines?

            "utterly reliant"

            Nonsense. Your common feline house pet can easily return to the wild, and far, far easier than your common-or-garden libertarian can. Or most other people, for that matter. (Why is it that "preppers", AKA "survivalists", are always the first to bitch about the government not helping in a disaster?)

  4. Gunboat Diplomat

    What's the point?

    This just seems cruel and unnecessary.

    1. sabroni Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: This just seems cruel and unnecessary.

      Should catch on pretty quick then.

    2. jake Silver badge

      Re: What's the point?

      My wife agrees ... according to her, ElReg was quite cruel to include those videos.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: What's the point?

        Couldn't get them to play for me.

    3. JDX Gold badge

      Re: What's the point?

      They pointed out pretty clearly the benefits - basically 'growing' a robot appendage far more effective and far far cheaper than anything we can make.

      As far as cruelty, how is this different than than thousands/millions of fruit flies which are farmed specifically to be used in tests? For that matter, we are being told that locusts or other creepy crawlies are a great alternative to meat and that means billions of the things will be grown and killed. Nobody is going to individually euthanize them.

      If it were a million spiders being killed to extract some some of chemical, nobody would care. But show us a single spider on video and the fact we're reanimating its corpse we suddenly get up in arms (the spider doesn't care what we do with its corpse).

      Many of us routinely kill spiders or wasps we see in our houses and we don't analyse the ethics. Somewhat hypocritical to lambast the scientists doing it for an actual purpose.

      1. Don Jefe

        Re: What's the point?

        Exploitation is a function of perceived benefit.

        If the video was of a spider manipulating an organic cornea or performing open heart surgery on a premature infant it would be hailed as a civilization changing, if weird, development.

        Everybody would be pontificating on the potential of lady bugs for melanoma treatment and stag beetles for tubal ligation. But it’s yanking a thru-hole component from a breadboard and people can’t see beyond that.

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: What's the point?

          > If the video was of a spider manipulating an organic cornea

          Yes, because testing your necrobot for the first time on a patient doesn't score any bonus mad scientist points.

      2. Neil Barnes Silver badge

        Re: What's the point?

        They pointed out pretty clearly the benefits - basically 'growing' a robot appendage far more effective and far far cheaper than anything we can make.

        It's obviously cheaper, and lots more fun, to make organic intelligent brains the old fashioned way... and yet we spend millions and millions trying to make artificial intelligence. Go figure.

        1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

          Re: What's the point?

          Yeah but most of the naturally grown brains turn out to be defective. The lure of AI is that we could build a good one and make millions of perfect copies.

          Whether it actually works out that way is, of course, the subject of much speculation amongst sci-fi authors.

          1. jmch Silver badge

            Re: What's the point?

            "Yeah but most of the naturally grown brains turn out to be defective"

            Correction - Most of the naturally grown brains work perfectly well. It's the training that's mostly extremely crappy!

            1. jake Silver badge

              Re: What's the point?

              "Correction - Most of the naturally grown brains work perfectly well."

              Objection - Assumes facts not in evidence.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: What's the point?

        Spiders are welcome in my house. Not sure what they catch to eat but they seem to survive ok. Wasps are a different matter - they get shooed out - but if they don't take the hint then they get terminated. A wasp's nest inside the house is not sensible co-habitation.

  5. petethebloke

    If it takes 5-7 days to die, they surely don't need a fecking paper from the literature to tell them whether it's humane?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Yeah but the structural integrity of the spider is compromised if you use the heel of your size 9.

    2. JDX Gold badge

      Death by exposure is considered not a terrible way to go for humans

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Depends if it's exposure in the Daily red tops, TBH.

  6. cawfee
    Mushroom

    rise of the machines

    if we get to robotic spiders we're morally obligated to nuke earth from orbit

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: rise of the machines

      Back in the 90's the plasma gun worked the best.

  7. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Why stop there? Train a live spider. For additional functionality it can deal with insect pests during downtime.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Isn't it amazing though that we need equipment the size of a shoebox to get anywhere close to what microscopic insects can do? (including replenishing their energy, so factor in a power supply and some batteries along with your sensor-packed RPi)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Three coffees later I realise that technically speaking spiders are not insects.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
          Joke

          "Three coffees later I realise that technically speaking spiders are not insects."

          That's why ion the US they're all just "bugs". It saves having to learn big and complicated words and how/when to use them correctly. All part of the great dumbing down New World Order conspiracy!

          1. jake Silver badge

            Correction. It's part of the New Word Order that's been plaguing us for several years now.

          2. Eclectic Man Silver badge
            Headmaster

            Bugs

            Pedant Alert!

            Technically, I understand that a bug is something that inserts its mouth arts into you (or its victim) and sucks stuff out. Whereas a 'not bug' has jaws or mandibles and bites. So a Dragonfly is not a bug, as it bites, but a tick is bug as it sucks.

            \end{pedant alert}

            1. jake Silver badge

              Re: Bugs

              "a bug is something that inserts its mouth arts into you"

              Not exactly, although the so-called "true bugs" deploy some kind of sucking as a feeding mechanism (aphids, for example, which don't suck on mammals). There are many other critters colloquially known as "bugs" ... and many other uses of the word "bug" in the English Language. See the etymology[0] of "bug", here:

              For the sensible anti-blind-pointy-clicky set, here's the same link:

              https://www.etymonline.com/word/bug

              [0] Not to be confused with entomology, of course ...

  8. mikeHingley

    I for one welcome our undead robotic spider overlords.

    1. Sceptic Tank
      Pirate

      Kit out the arsenal with rolled up newspapers.

  9. original_rwg
    Happy

    Syringe & Liquid

    So, it's hydraulics then.

    (I'm sure someone will correct me!)

    1. Graham Dawson Silver badge

      Re: Syringe & Liquid

      Pretty much. As the article states, spiders move their legs by a combination of muscles and manipulation of the haemolymph pressure inside their bodies. This is why spiders curl up when they die; the interior pressure drops.

    2. Jan 0

      Re: Syringe & Liquid

      Ye-es, but why use glue rather than a stable fluid?

      1. Pierre 1970
        Coat

        Re: Syringe & Liquid

        Obviously glue is for cheating all of us in order to get the legs sticks to the objects.

  10. Andrew Barr
    Facepalm

    after a robot broke the finger of a child playing chess, I feel like having spider robots is obviously a step forward at this time!

    1. ArrZarr
      Childcatcher

      It is, until we start breeding bigger and bigger spiders to grab larger and larger things.

      Icon: NOPE

    2. Little Mouse Silver badge

      I think you'll find that's eight steps forward...

  11. Eclectic Man Silver badge

    Arachnophobia treatment

    For those who did not watch the videos due to arachnophobia:

    https://www.zsl.org/experiences/friendly-spider-programme

    "Do you have a spider phobia? Millions of perfectly rational people are terrified of spiders. No matter how much they try to calm themselves, the response remains the same: sweating, nausea, panic, rapid heartbeat and worse. But spiders are harmless and extremely beneficial invertebrates whose survival depends on avoiding such large, lumbering threats as ourselves. Join us for a session with a hynotherapist and zookeeper, and let us help you overcome your fears."*

    I have attended the course, and it did work for me, and all but one of the other attendees. The most difficult thing to do was turn up.

    If you know (and care about) someone who is arachnophobic in the UK, just get the details and give them to the person, but do not pester them at all. Attending has to be their decision. Tackling an irrational fear is much harder than tackling a rational fear, and takes time, patience and courage.

    *Note for Australians: Australian spiders are extremely dangerous and can kill people, it is referring to UK spiders here, which are complete wusses compared to your spiders.

    1. Little Mouse Silver badge

      Re: Arachnophobia treatment

      "hynotherapist and zookeeper"? That's quite a niche skill-set.

      1. Francis Boyle

        Well

        if we can have horse whisperers, why not lion hypnotists.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Well

          Horse whisperers don't whisper. They speak horse. Likewise, so-called "lion tamers" speak lion. Same for dogs & etc. And yes, the psychology of the animal comes into play. It's not hypnosis, though.

          We're human, and have the capacity to understand the critters, but not vice-versa. So it only stands to reason that we learn their lingo if we need/want to tell them what we'd like them to do next.

          It's not rocket surgery, people have been domesticating animals for well over ten thousand years.

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: Well

            "We're human, and have the capacity to understand the critters, but not vice-versa."

            domestica cattus are very, very good at understanding and training humans to do what they want. You have cats. You know this. Have they trained you to forget this? Seems they have. Proof!

            1. jake Silver badge

              Re: Well

              I have a secret weapon ... In their eyes, I am the biggest, meanest cat in the whole damn valley. I have trained them and they like it that way. Seriously. They think I'm the Boss Cat, which means none of them fight for dominance, and they listen to me, so long as I don't try to make them do anything that is un-catly.

              With no yelling or force. Accept nature & gently redirect ... Rule one of animal training.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Well

            Recent article about the potential of using AI to "talk" with animals.

  12. jake Silver badge

    I wonder how many of the folks screaming "inhumane!" ...

    ... think nothing of swatting flies and exterminating roaches and ants with assorted poisons or deadly irritants like DE.

    1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge
      IT Angle

      Stop all debugging!

      And would have no qualms about thwacking it with a shoe if it was crawling across the living room floor. "Eight eyes, mate, and you still couldn't dodge that..."

      1. Plest Silver badge

        Re: Stop all debugging!

        See spiders same a bees, creepy and annoying but extremely useful in the grand scheme. When I see one, glass, cardboard and out the nearest door. Cant' handle spiders by hand but I can't kill them, they're intelligent and vital creatures for keeping the real pests under control, the bloody useless flies, every fly that gets sucker bone dry by our 8 legged friends, is one less that bothers me in Summer!

    2. Gunboat Diplomat

      Re: I wonder how many of the folks screaming "inhumane!" ...

      There's a big difference between a quick death via the sole of a shoe and being frozen to death over a week.

  13. xanadu42

    Beware the Eight legs of Metebelis III

  14. jake Silver badge

    A couple questions remain ...

    Why use "glue" as the hydraulic fluid?

    What kind of glue?

    What's the set-up time?

    Shirley whatever spiders use for embalming fluid would work better?

    Or perhaps something as common-place as propylene glycol ...

    1. ArrZarr

      Re: A couple questions remain ...

      It occurs to me that something nice and viscous would increase the lifting ability of the gripper as the entire arm would be full of the stuff.

      And the setup time would include spending about three seconds in my house finding a nice big spider, a week to freeze it to death, ten seconds to ram a syringe up its butt and a metric Lady Macbeth's worth of hand washing.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Had to check it wasn't April 1st...

    See title.

    And Ew...

  16. imanidiot Silver badge

    NOPE

    Absolutely NOPE.

    I find spiders and they bio-mechanics interesting, I'm even thinking about how to build a giant spider-bot based on that (A project I dubbed Project Nightmare Fuel). But this is just pure unadulterated NOPE. I really don't see the use for something like this. It's not as if we're ever going to breed and kill spiders on an industrial scale to make robot end effectors, nor do I see a dead spider lasting all that long in long term use in that application.

    1. BOFH in Training Bronze badge

      Re: NOPE

      Yeah, although this may look cool, I don't think it actually works out for something which requires longer term usage of such manipulators.

      How long before the spider body is too degraded?

      How long before the spider's body can't handle the fluid pressure changes (especially since the body will be degrading while in use)?

      How difficult is it to change to another spider in the middle of using the manipulator?

      Even if you have X number of spare spiders ready to be used, I assume different spider bodies have different capabilities, similar to how some humans can do 50 pull ups, and some will struggle to do even 1. So how are you going to make sure whatever replacement spiders you get are able to be used as required?

      And of cos, you going to set up breeding farms for spiders and figure out best way to kill them humanely(or is it spiderally?) while still preserving the body sufficiently enough to be used in this manner?

      I think it may be simpler to just build artificial manipulators one time, and be able to use them for a very long time afterwards.

      1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

        Re: NOPE

        Life! LIFE! Give my spider life! Oh, wait...

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: NOPE

        "I think it may be simpler to just build artificial manipulators one time, and be able to use them for a very long time afterwards."

        That may well end up being the case, but copying the design of the spider leg might be the best design solution. On the other hand, for very small micro manipulators, it may be cheaper and easier to use dead spider legs, even if only for one off jobs. There may not be all that many applications for something like this where the manipulator needs to work for many 1000's of operations or a period of week, months or years.

  17. Dave 126 Silver badge

    It brightened my day

    to read of people who are really enjoying their job.

    Their next line of reasearch, according their fine article? Reanimating scorpion stingers. I kid ye not. My faith in scientists has been respolished. Tom Leher got it. Gary Larson got it.

  18. Jonathon Green

    If this isn’t a strong contender for the next round of Ignobels I don’t know what is…

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      And the man who once won an Ignobel for levitating a frog with magnets would go to win a Nobel for peeling graphene with sellotape.

  19. Evil Auditor Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    So, a dead spider is more useful and successful than those arcade claw machines

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Arcade claw machines are designed to fail. You didn't really think you could "win" an iPhone for 50p, did you :-)

    2. Wanda Lust

      'Necrobot' monetisation

      Arcade claw machine and hall of horrors rolled into one.

  20. Francis Boyle

    There's no way this won't

    make an awesome horror film.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: There's no way this won't

      Starship Troopers. Although, to be fair, not that awesome a film. The book was better.

  21. MrDamage Silver badge

    Why not chickens feet?

    Lobbed off at the ankle, no opposing muscles groups, actuated simply by pulling on the tendons, and in plentiful supply already. Greater structural integrity too.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Why not chickens feet?

      Waste of perfectly good soup.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Why not chickens feet?

        Not for most people (or chickens). Compared to how many chickens are killed for food, the vast majority reach the consumer sans feet. What happens to the feet at the "factory", I don't know. But I'm sure they could donate a few for the advancement of science :-)

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Why not chickens feet?

          "What happens to the feet at the "factory", I don't know."

          Processed into animal chow (or chicken stock for humans, but I digress ... ). The bits deemed inedible are usually turned into fertilizer. In the old days most of that stuff was incinerated, but we're a lot more thrifty nowadays.

          "But I'm sure they could donate a few for the advancement of science :-)"

          Anybody local to them who raises meat birds would be more than happy to help. I've usually got upwards of 20 pounds of feet in the deep-freeze because I'm dead serious, they make great soup. Waste not, want not. However, I can easily find them a few fresher units on demand, if needs be.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Why not chickens feet?

          If memory serves, in the US, the feet are considered unsanitary and can't be sold for food unless the chicken never used them - like kept in a sanitary cage its whole life. There's some irony in there somewhere.

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: Why not chickens feet?

            "If memory serves, in the US, the feet are considered unsanitary and can't be sold for food unless the chicken never used them"

            News to me. The local Sonoma Market and sister-shop Glen Ellen Market both have fresh chicken feet occasionally (special orders welcome). As does the Whole Foods, not that I shop there anymore (I refuse to do business with the amazon shysters). This is in Sonoma, California, which last time I looked was still in the US.

            Many restaurants use them by the bucket-load.

  22. Zarno
    Mushroom

    This is how we get spiderdemons.

    I'm pretty sure this is how we'll get the Spiderdemon from DOOM.

    I wonder if next they're going to try a Goliath birdeater and see if it can be used for a crane game...

  23. Scott 53

    The Claw!

    This would have given the scene in Toy Story a very different ambience.

  24. Ken G Bronze badge
    Terminator

    Next step, Humans

    Think of the advantages of a robot able to fit into the same spaces as a person and able to use the same tools

  25. that one in the corner Bronze badge

    Initiated the field of robots using "biotic materials"?

    "biotic materials – non-living materials derived from living organisms"

    As in - wood?

    As in - the laser cut plywood used in oh-so-many small robots (well, hobbyist robots at least)?

    Or the paper in plotters - which are just robotic draughtsmen. Ok, that is probably stretching the point too far: the robot plotter isn't actually made of paper. Although there are some paper robots, robo-origami using nitinol wire. Aaaaaah, that's taken my mind off spiders.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Initiated the field of robots using "biotic materials"?

      "biotic materials – non-living materials derived from living organisms"

      As in - ethanol?

  26. This post has been deleted by its author

  27. karlkarl Silver badge

    They just want to find a way of keeping me working long after I am dead!

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