Jumping spiders are pretty incredible creatures. A typical jumping spider is only about half an inch long, yet they can jump around half a foot or more in distance, several times the length of their bodies. How exactly this works is still not well understood, so a group of scientists .
The spider is named Kim, and was one of four spiders selected by researchers at the University of Manchester for their study. However, the other three spiders showed zero interest in jumping on cue, so Kim, was the only spider used for the experiment.
The researchers trained the spider to jump between two platforms, then moved the platforms to different heights and distances. They then filmed the spider in the process of jumping. The goal was to see how Kim’s body and legs worked to jump at different forces and angles. The researchers also scanned Kim to make a 3D model of her body.
The researchers found that Kim jumped differently depending on the type of jump she was making. For instance, when Kim made a short horizontal jump she jumped low and fast, using more energy but spending less time in the air. This was likely a strategy developed to maximize the odds of catching prey.
Understanding the mechanics of how spiders jump can help researchers designing their own jumping robots. This research could lead to more mobile robots in the future, even if—hopefully—these robots don’t turn out exactly like their biological inspiration. The last thing the world needs is a robot spider.