To accomplish their goals, scientists have literally brought back to life dead spiders.

Researchers created grippers that can grasp objects from the carcasses of wolf spiders in a new discipline called “necrobotics.” The only thing the crew needed to do was insert a needle into the rear of a dead spider and superglue it in place. The cadaver’s legs clenched open and shut when fluid was pushed in and out of it, the researchers write in Advanced Science on July 25.

Faye Yap, a mechanical engineer at Rice University in Houston, notes that the inspiration for the idea came from a straightforward query. Why do dead spiders roll themselves in a ball?

The response is hydraulic machinery, like spiders. By pumping blood into their legs, they can adjust how far they extend. The legs of a dead spider curl because it no longer has that blood pressure.

Yap says, “We were just thinking that was so fantastic. “We wished to capitalize on it.”

Her team initially attempted to expand the dead wolf spiders by placing them in a double boiler filled with water in the hopes that this would cause the spiders to spread their legs. That was ineffective. However, the scientists discovered that they could manipulate a spider’s grip well enough to remove wires from a circuit board and pick up other dead spiders when they directly injected fluid into a spider corpse. The necrobots didn’t start to become dehydrated or show wear until after hundreds of uses.

To prevent that reduction in the future, the researchers will coat spiders with a sealant. However, Yap claims that the next crucial step is to control each spider’s leg separately and, in doing so, learn more about how spiders function. Her team might then use their newfound knowledge to create better designs for other robots.

Rashid Bashir, a bioengineer at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign who wasn’t involved in the current study, says “That would be very, very intriguing.” According to him, a spider corpse itself would probably have difficulties acting as a robot because its body would degrade over time and it wouldn’t work consistently like “hard robots.” However, engineers can learn a lot from spiders. Bashir claims that biology and nature can teach us a lot.

Yap is not a mad scientist, despite the whole reviving dead spiders thing. She questions whether playing Frankenstein is appropriate, especially with spiders. When it comes to this kind of research, “no one really talks about the ethics,” she claims.

Bashir concurs that before becoming too proficient in it, scientists need to determine the morality of this type of bioengineering. How far do you go, he asks, is the question.