skip to main content

Search for: All records

Creators/Authors contains: "Goldman, Daniel I."

Note: When clicking on a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) number, you will be taken to an external site maintained by the publisher. Some full text articles may not yet be available without a charge during the embargo (administrative interval).
What is a DOI Number?

Some links on this page may take you to non-federal websites. Their policies may differ from this site.

  1. Abstract

    Many organisms utilize group aggregation as a method for survival. The freshwater oligochaete, Lumbriculus variegatus (California blackworms) form tightly entangled structures, or worm “blobs”, that have adapted to survive in extremely low levels of dissolved oxygen (DO). Individual blackworms adapt to hypoxic environments through respiration via their mucous body wall and posterior ciliated hindgut, which they wave above them. However, the change in collective behavior at different levels of DO is not known. Using a closed-loop respirometer with flow, we discover that the relative tail reaching activity flux in low DO is ∼75x higher than in the high-DO condition. Additionally, when flow rate is increased to suspend the worm blobs upward, we find that the average exposed surface area of a blob in low DO is ∼1.4x higher than in high DO. Furthermore, we observe emergent properties that arise when a worm blob is exposed to extreme DO levels. We demonstrate that internal mechanical stress is generated when worm blobs are exposed to high DO levels, allowing them to be physically lifted off from the bottom of a conical container using a serrated endpiece. Our results demonstrate how both collective behavior and the emergent generation of internal mechanical stressmore »in worm blobs change to accommodate differing levels of oxygen. From an engineering perspective, this could be used to model and simulate swarm robots, self-assembly structures, or soft material entanglements.

    « less
  2. Social organisms which construct nests consisting of tunnels and chambers necessarily navigate confined and crowded conditions. Unlike low density collectives like bird flocks and insect swarms in which hydrodynamic and statistical phenomena dominate, the physics of glasses and supercooled fluids is important to understand clogging behaviors in high density collectives. Our previous work revealed that fire ants flowing in confined tunnels utilize diverse behaviors like unequal workload distributions, spontaneous direction reversals and limited interaction times to mitigate clogging and jamming and thus maintain functional flow; implementation of similar rules in a small robophysical swarm led to high performance through spontaneous dissolution of clogs and clusters. However, how the insects learn such behaviors and how we can develop “task capable” active matter in such regimes remains a challenge in part because interaction dynamics are dominated by local, potentially time-consuming collisions and no single agent can survey and guide the entire collective. Here, hypothesizing that effective flow and clog mitigation could be generated purely by collisional learning dynamics, we challenged small groups of robots to transport pellets through a narrow tunnel, and allowed them to modify their excavation probabilities over time. Robots began excavation with equal probabilities to excavate and without probabilitymore »modification, clogs and clusters were common. Allowing the robots to perform a “reversal” and exit the tunnel when they encountered another robot which prevented forward progress improved performance. When robots were allowed to change their reversal probabilities via both a collision and a self-measured (and noisy) estimate of tunnel length, unequal workload distributions comparable to our previous work emerged and excavation performance improved. Our robophysical study of an excavating swarm shows that despite the seeming complexity and difficulty of the task, simple learning rules can mitigate or leverage unavoidable features in task capable dense active matter, leading to hypotheses for dense biological and robotic swarms.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 9, 2023
  3. Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 1, 2023
  4. Black soldier fly larvae are a sustainable protein source and play a vital role in the emerging food-waste recycling industry. One of the challenges of raising larvae in dense aggregations is their rise in temperature during feeding, which, if not mitigated, can become lethal to the larvae. We propose applying air-fluidization to circumvent such overheating. However, the behavior of such a system involves complex air-larva interactions and is poorly understood. In this combined experimental and numerical study, we show that the larval activity changes the behavior of the ensemble when compared to passive particles such as dead larvae. Over a cycle of increasing and then decreasing airflow, the states (pressure and height) of the live larva aggregates are single-value functions of the flow speed. In contrast, dead larva aggregates exhibit hysteresis characteristic of traditional fluidized beds, becoming more porous during the ramp down of airflow. This history-dependence for passive particles is supported by simulations that couple agent-based dynamics and computational fluid dynamics. We show that the hysteresis in height and pressure of the aggregates decreases as the activity of simulated larvae increases. To test if air fluidization can increase larval food intake, we performed feeding trials in a fluidization chambermore »and visualized the food consumption via x-ray imaging. Although the food mixes more rapidly in faster airflow, the consumption rate decreases. Our findings suggest that providing moderate airflow to larval aggregations may alleviate overheating of larval aggregations and evenly distribute the food without reducing feeding rates.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 2, 2022
  5. Swarms of ground-based robots are presently limited to relatively simple environments, which we attribute in part to the lack of locomotor capabilities needed to traverse complex terrain. To advance the field of terradynamically capable swarming robotics, inspired by the capabilities of multilegged organisms, we hypothesize that legged robots consisting of reversibly chainable modular units with appropriate passive perturbation management mechanisms can perform diverse tasks in variable terrain without complex control and sensing. Here, we report a reconfigurable swarm of identical low-cost quadruped robots (with directionally flexible legs and tail) that can be linked on demand and autonomously. When tasks become terradynamically challenging for individuals to perform alone, the individuals suffer performance degradation. A systematic study of performance of linked units leads to new discoveries of the emergent obstacle navigation capabilities of multilegged robots. We also demonstrate the swarm capabilities through multirobot object transport. In summary, we argue that improvement capabilities of terrestrial swarms of robots can be achieved via the judicious interaction of relatively simple units.
  6. Numerous worm and arthropod species form physically-connected aggregations in which interactions among individuals give rise to emergent macroscale dynamics and functionalities that enhance collective survival. In particular, some aquatic worms such as the California blackworm ( Lumbriculus variegatus ) entangle their bodies into dense blobs to shield themselves against external stressors and preserve moisture in dry conditions. Motivated by recent experiments revealing emergent locomotion in blackworm blobs, we investigate the collective worm dynamics by modeling each worm as a self-propelled Brownian polymer. Though our model is two-dimensional, compared to real three-dimensional worm blobs, we demonstrate how a simulated blob can collectively traverse temperature gradients via the coupling between the active motion and the environment. By performing a systematic parameter sweep over the strength of attractive forces between worms, and the magnitude of their directed self-propulsion, we obtain a rich phase diagram which reveals that effective collective locomotion emerges as a result of finely balancing a tradeoff between these two parameters. Our model brings the physics of active filaments into a new meso- and macroscale context and invites further theoretical investigation into the collective behavior of long, slender, semi-flexible organisms.
  7. Living systems at all scales aggregate in large numbers for a variety of functions including mating, predation, and survival. The majority of such systems consist of unconnected individuals that collectively flock, school, or swarm. However, some aggregations involve physically entangled individuals, which can confer emergent mechanofunctional material properties to the collective. Here, we study in laboratory experiments and rationalize in theoretical and robophysical models the dynamics of physically entangled and motile self-assemblies of 1-cm-long California blackworms ( Lumbriculus variegatus , Annelida: Clitellata: Lumbriculidae). Thousands of individual worms form braids with their long, slender, and flexible bodies to make a three-dimensional, soft, and shape-shifting “blob.” The blob behaves as a living material capable of mitigating damage and assault from environmental stresses through dynamic shape transformations, including minimizing surface area for survival against desiccation and enabling transport (negative thermotaxis) from hazardous environments (like heat). We specifically focus on the locomotion of the blob to understand how an amorphous entangled ball of worms can break symmetry to move across a substrate. We hypothesize that the collective blob displays rudimentary differentiation of function across itself, which when combined with entanglement dynamics facilitates directed persistent blob locomotion. To test this, we develop a robophysical modelmore »of the worm blobs, which displays emergent locomotion in the collective without sophisticated control or programming of any individual robot. The emergent dynamics of the living functional blob and robophysical model can inform the design of additional classes of adaptive mechanofunctional living materials and emergent robotics.« less
  8. The small structures that decorate biological surfaces can significantly affect behavior, yet the diversity of animal–environment interactions essential for survival makes ascribing functions to structures challenging. Microscopic skin textures may be particularly important for snakes and other limbless locomotors, where substrate interactions are mediated solely through body contact. While previous studies have characterized ventral surface features of some snake species, the functional consequences of these textures are not fully understood. Here, we perform a comparative study, combining atomic force microscopy measurements with mathematical modeling to generate predictions that link microscopic textures to locomotor performance. We discover an evolutionary convergence in the ventral skin structures of a few sidewinding specialist vipers that inhabit sandy deserts—an isotropic texture that is distinct from the head-to-tail-oriented, micrometer-sized spikes observed on a phylogenetically broad sampling of nonsidewinding vipers and other snakes from diverse habitats and wide geographic range. A mathematical model that relates structural directionality to frictional anisotropy reveals that isotropy enhances movement during sidewinding, whereas anisotropy improves movement during slithering via lateral undulation of the body. Our results highlight how an integrated approach can provide quantitative predictions for structure–function relationships and insights into behavioral and evolutionary adaptations in biological systems.
  9. At the macroscale, controlling robotic swarms typically uses substantial memory, processing power, and coordination unavailable at the microscale, e.g., for colloidal robots, which could be useful for fighting disease, fabricating intelligent textiles, and designing nanocomputers. To develop principles that can leverage physical interactions and thus be used across scales, we take a two-pronged approach: a theoretical abstraction of self-organizing particle systems and an experimental robot system of active cohesive granular matter that intentionally lacks digital electronic computation and communication, using minimal (or no) sensing and control. As predicted by theory, as interparticle attraction increases, the collective transitions from dispersed to a compact phase. When aggregated, the collective can transport non-robot “impurities,” thus performing an emergent task driven by the physics underlying the transition. These results reveal a fruitful interplay between algorithm design and active matter robophysics that can result in principles for programming collectives without the need for complex algorithms or capabilities.