This paper investigates the feasibility of a soft-structure peristaltic pumping and propulsion concept with distributed self-contained piezocomposite actuators. The peristaltic propulsion concept is analogous to various natural and synthetic mechanisms such as: (i) pulsed jet propulsion and thrust vectoring observed in squids, and (ii) operation principle of multi-phase linear electromagnetic motors. This paper proposes a propulsion system involving a series of active soft cymbal-like segments that are connected with passive soft connective segments. The active sections of the channel have distributed piezocomposite actuators, and these embedded self-contained devices enable the active section of the channel to expand and contract much like the muscular hydrostatic mantle of squids. A series of phased excitations in expansion and contraction applied to different active segments of the channel create a traveling wave along the axis of the channel, which in return “propels” the fluid in one direction. A tubular aperture with vectoring capabilities, similar to the rotating funnel of squids, is also possible. The paper presents feasibility of the concept with theoretical and experimental analyses.

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