[2022-Vol.19-Issue 2]A High-Speed Launching Mechanism Inspired by a Slingshot Spider's Web
Post: 2022-04-08 20:11  View:155

Journal of Bionic Engineering (2022) 19:440–447

A High-Speed Launching Mechanism Inspired by a Slingshot Spider’s Web 

Tom Bates1  · John Gerig1  · Manuel Avitia1  · Gunnar Waldvogel1  · Tesfay Legesse1  · Justin Washington1  · Pranav A. Bhounsule1

1 Robotics and Motion Laboratory, Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, University of Illinois at Chicago, 842 W. Taylor St., Chicago, IL 60607, USA 

Abstract  Slingshot spiders use their conical webs to launch themselves at high speeds to catch prey. We built a launching mechanism inspired by the slingshot spider. Our launch mechanisms comprise a steel structure with eye bolts to hold a conical web made from latex rubber tubing. We pull the web by a winch using a lever arm. A quick-release mechanism connects the web to the winch using a tough-grid paracord. When we release the quick-return mechanism, the projectile material consisting of a steel ball achieved an acceleration of 5107 m s?2 or 521 times gravity, and a speed of 66.41 m s?1 . The power per unit mass and energy per unit mass of our prototype was one tenth and one ffth that of the spider’s web respectively. In particular, we found that web structure consisting multiple radial web elements reinforced with circumferential web elements provide enhanced stifness; as a comparison our web had a stifness of about eight times that of traditional slingshot with a single radial web element. Our results suggest that adapting designs from nature can lead to potentially superior performance of man-made contraptions. 

Keywords  Slingshot spider · Launching mechanisms · Catapult · Bioinspiration


A slingshot spider ready to strike having loaded its conical web

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