Necrobotics refers to the use of robotics technology in the field of necrology, which is the study of death and the care of the dead. Necrobotics can include the use of robots in funeral rites, mortuary practices, and other activities related to death.
One potential application of Necrobotics is the use of robots in funeral rites, where they could perform tasks such as carrying the casket, setting up chairs, and even leading the funeral procession. Another potential application is the use of robots in mortuary practices, where they could perform tasks such as preparing bodies for burial or cremation, and even performing autopsies.
In addition, Necrobotics can also play a role in the development of new technologies for preserving and storing human remains. For example, robots could be used to help create new preservation methods, such as cryogenic freezing, which could help to extend the life of human remains.
In a paper published in Advanced Science, researchers have dubbed the use of biotic materials as robotic components “necrobotics.” They say this area of research could be used to create biodegradable grippers for very small objects.
For more information on Necrobotics and its applications please visit: Necrobotics: Exploring the Intersection of Robotics and Necromancy
Dead Spiders Reincarnated as Robot Grippers
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. Higher pressure extends the limb, acting against an antagonistic flexor muscle that curls the limb when the blood pressure within is reduced.
To create their gripper, researchers stuck a needle into internal valves in the spiders’ hydraulic chamber, created a seal with superglue and attached a syringe to the other end. By puffing small amounts of air through the syringe, the scientists could extend and retract the spider’s legs.
We repurposed the cadaver of a spider to create a pneumatically actuated gripper that is fully functional following only one simple assembly step, allowing us to circumvent the usual tedious and constraining fabrication steps required for fluidically driven actuators and grippers.
Our strategy contrasts with bioinspired approaches in which researchers look to the spider’s physical morphology for design ideas that are subsequently implemented in complex engineered systems, and also differs from biohybrid systems in which live or active biological materials serve as the basis for a system, demanding careful and precise maintenance.
The dead spiders could pick up more than 130 percent of their own body weight, exert a peak gripping force of 0.35 millinewton, and last through 1,000 open-close cycles, per the paper. Without any kind of coating on the corpse, the spiders only remained functional for two days because dehydration made their joints brittle.
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.
The researchers experimented with a beeswax coating and found it could slow loss of the spiders’ mass.
The Rice team says necrobotic grippers could have multiple applications, including for the assembly of things like microelectronics and for collecting specimens.
“Because the necrobotic gripper has inherent compliance and camouflaging capabilities, we envision that we can deploy it in scientific fieldwork,” Yap tells The Daily Beast. “For example, to capture and collect small insects and other live specimens without damaging them.”
However, Necrobotics is still a relatively new field and there are still few concrete examples of it being used in practice. Some ethical concerns have been raised about the use of robots in death care, such as concerns that robots might be used to replace human funeral directors and undertakers, or that they might be used to desensitize people to death.
Overall, Necrobotics is a promising field that has the potential to revolutionize the way we care for the dead, but it is still in its early stages of development.