Scorpion venom is used in medical applications such as immunosuppressants, anti-malarial drugs and cancer research.

But extracting the venom from the Arachnida is a difficult task and one that runs the risk of potentially deadly scorpion stings and electric shocks from the stimulators used to extract the venom.

Much like robots that are being tested for use on other planets or in harsh environments too dangerous for humans, a team of researchers from Ben M’sik Hassan II University in Morocco have developed a robot to milk scorpions to extract venom that would replace the traditional method.

Current methods involve either electric stimulation or mechanical stimulation by hand or by puncturing the venom gland or removing the abdomen.

The researchers created the robot, called VES-4, as a lightweight and portable robot for use in the lab or the field. It milks the scorpions by clamping down on its tail and electrically stimulating the animal to produce droplets of venom, which is then captured and stored.

"VES-4 could be used by one person using a remote control to safely recover scorpion venom remotely," says Mouad Mkamel, a researcher from M’sik Hassan II University.

Currently, the robot is being tested on multiple species of scorpions and can be programmed to remember specific settings for different species and an LED screen displays the name of the species being milked.

To contact the author of this article, email engineering360editors@globalspec.com