Tuesday 20 November 2018

One giant leap for science as spider Kim is taught to jump on command

Kim is a ‘regal jumping spider’ or Phidippus regius. Photo: Manchester University
Kim is a ‘regal jumping spider’ or Phidippus regius. Photo: Manchester University

John von Radowitz

A spider called Kim has been trained to jump on demand by scientists keen to learn the secrets of her acrobatic ability.

The study could help engineers design agile mini-robots that are currently beyond human technology.

Kim is a "regal jumping spider", or Phidippus regius, a species famed for its astonishing leaps.

Jumping spiders, which measure up to 2cm across, are able to bound up to six times their body length from a standing start. In comparison, the best a human can achieve is about 1.5 body lengths.

Lead scientist Dr Mostafa Nabawy, from the University of Manchester, said: "This is amazing and if we can understand these biomechanics we can apply them to other areas of research."

Dr Nabawy's team trained Kim to jump different heights and distances on a man-made laboratory platform.

Her jumps were recorded using ultra-high-speed cameras. The scientists also took micro CT scans of the spider to create a 3D virtual model of her legs and body structure.

The results, published in the journal 'Nature Scientific Reports', showed that Kim used different jumping strategies depending on the challenge she was presented with.

Irish Independent

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