Biology provides many examples of how body adaption can be used to achieve a change in functionality. The feather star, an underwater crinoid that uses feather arms to locomote and feed, is one such system; it releases its arms to distract prey and vary its maneuverability to help escape predators. Using this crinoid as inspiration, we develop a robotic system that can alter its interaction with the environment by changing its morphology. We propose a robot that can actuate layers of flexible feathers and detach them at will. We first optimize the geometric and control parameters for a flexible feather using a hydrodynamic simulation followed by physical experiments. Second, we provide a theoretical framework for understanding how body change affects controllability. Third, we present a novel design of a soft swimming robot ( Figure 1 ) with the ability of changing its morphology. Using this optimized feather and theoretical framework, we demonstrate, on a robotic setup, how the detachment of feathers can be used to change the motion path while maintaining the same low-level controller.
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- Biological system modeling