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Spiders Train To Jump On Demand At Breakthrough Robotics Engineering

    Abdulaziz Sobh
    By Abdulaziz Sobh

    Categories: Science


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    A spider named Kim has been trained to jump on demand by scientists willing to learn the secrets of her acrobatic skill. The study of the circus act could help engineers design agile mini robots that are currently beyond human technology. Kim is a "regal jumping spider", Phidippus regius, a species famous for its amazing jumps. Jumping spiders, which measure up to two centimeters in diameter, can tie up to six times the length of your body from a stable start. In comparison, the best a human being can achieve is approximately 1.5 body lengths. At takeoff, the force on the legs of the spider is equivalent to five times the body weight of the creature. The leading scientist, Dr. Mostafa Nabawy of the University of Manchester, said: "This is incrediblthesed if we can understand these biomechanics, we can apply it to other areas of research."Dr. Nabawy's team trained Kim to jump different heights and distances on a man-made lab platform. His jumps were recorded using ultra high-speed cameras. The scientists also took micro CT scans of the spider to create a virtual 3D model of their legs and body structure. The results, published in the journal Scientific Reports, show that Kim used different jumping strategies depending on the challenge presented to her. For short distances, it favored a faster and lower trajectory that consumed more energy but minimized flight time. This made the jump more accurate and effective in capturing prey. The longest jumps of the type used to cross rough terrain were slower and with greater energy efficiency. Insects and spiders jump in different ways, using mechanisms similar to springs, direct muscle forces or internal fluid pressure. It is known that spiders use the hydraulic fluid pressure system to extend their legs, but it is unknown what role they played in the jump. The co-author of the study, Dr. Bill Crowther, also from the University of Manchester, said: "Our results suggest that while Kim can move his legs hydraulically, he does not need the additional power of hydraulics to achieve his extraordinary jumping performance."Therefore, the role of hydraulic movement in spiders remains an open question."