HOUSTON, Texas (Storyful/KFOR) – Dead spiders are being used in a unique way at a university in Texas, where researchers have figured out a useful purpose for spider carcasses.
Rice University released the video above, showing a team at the George R. Brown School of Engineering injecting air behind the heads of dead wolf spiders, forcing their legs to extend with “hydraulic pressure.”
Assistant Professor Daniel Preston has named the dead spiders “necrobotic grippers,” which are able to lift more than 130% of their own body weight.
Preston said the grippers could be useful in “repetitive tasks like sorting or moving objects around at these small scales, and maybe even things like assembly of microelectronics.”
“Also, the spiders themselves are biodegradable,” Preston added. “So we’re not introducing a big waste stream, which can be a problem with more traditional components.”
How long do dead spiders last before decay sets in? According to the university, the team can open and close a spider’s legs about 1,000 times before the joints start to dehydrate. But the team’s next venture is applying a polymeric coating to keep the necrobotic spiders in working order for much longer.