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Dynamic Tuning of Instabilities for High Power Movements in Deformable Structures

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Tufts University Medford United States

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This project aims to discover the underlying mechanisms for generating fast, high power movements in soft and flexible animals. Unlike fast moving articulated animals e.g., mantis shrimps punches, trap-jaw ants soft animals do not have stiff materials that can be pre-loaded for mechanical energy storage. Hydrostatic animals and plants can produce fast movements by releasing energy from pressurized compartments squid jet propulsion and bladderwort prey capture but this does not seem to be the strategy employed by most flexible e.g., fish or soft terrestrial invertebrates e.g., caterpillars. One possibility is that animals instead exploit structural instabilities to achieve rapid motion. This implies that tissues and body structures are arranged to buckle in response to a controlled perturbation, for example triggering the body wall to collapse by activating a local muscle. The studies use fish c-start behavior, caterpillar strike responses, and synthetic soft devices to examine how structural instabilities can extend the range of dynamic performance by compliant systems. There are two underlying hypotheses regarding such soft systems, that 1 they exploit mechanical buckling instabilities at many scales, and 2 they control power delivery by changing the local mechanical properties of the body.

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Technical Report,01 May 2016,01 Nov 2018



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Approved For Public Release;

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