Dead spiders reanimated as robot grippers in "necrobotics" breakthrough

Rice University researchers are pioneers in the field of necrobotics—reanimating dead creatures as robots. They've demonstrated how a tiny dead wolf spider can become an air-powered gripper that can pick up tiny electronic parts from a circuit board. Video below. From IEEE Spectrum:

Spiders are basically hydraulic (or pneumatic) grippers. Living spiders control their limbs by adjusting blood pressure on a limb-by-limb basis through an internal valve system[…]

This means that actuating all eight limbs of a spider that has joined the choir invisible is relatively straightforward. Simply stab it in the middle of that valve system, inject some air, and poof, all of the legs inflate and straighten[…]

It can lift 1.3 times its own weight, exert a peak gripping force of 0.35 millinewton, and can actuate at least 700 times before the limbs or the valve system start to degrade in any significant way. After 1,000 cycles, some cracks appear in the dead spider's joins, likely because of dehydration. But the researchers think that by coating the spider in something like beeswax, they could likely forestall this breakdown a great deal. The demised-spider gripper is able to successfully pick up a variety of objects, likely because of a combination of the inherent compliance of the legs as well as hairlike microstructures on the legs that work kind of like a directional adhesive.