Abstract

A swarm of simple active particles confined in a flexible scaffold is a promising system to make mobile and deformable superstructures. These soft structures can perform tasks that are difficult to carry out for monolithic robots because they can infiltrate narrow spaces, smaller than their size, and move around obstacles. To achieve such tasks, the origin of the forces the superstructures develop, how they can be guided, and the effects of external environment, especially geometry and the presence of obstacles, need to be understood. Here, we report measurements of the forces developed by such superstructures, enclosing a number of mindless active rod-like robots, as well as the forces exerted by these structures to achieve a simple function, crossing a constriction. We relate these forces to the self-organization of the individual entities. Furthermore, and based on a physical understanding of what controls the mobility of…

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