Bouncing dynamics of inertial self-propelled particles reveals directional asymmetry

Phys Rev E. 2023 Feb;107(2-1):024603. doi: 10.1103/PhysRevE.107.024603.


This study aims to examine experimental conditions in which active particles are forced by their surroundings to move forward and backward in a continuous oscillatory manner. The experimental design is based on using a vibrating self-propelled toyrobot called hexbug, which is placed inside a narrow channel closed on one end by a rigid moving wall. Using the end-wall velocity as a controlling factor, the main forward mode of the hexbug movement can be turned to mostly rearward mode. We investigate the bouncing hexbug motion on both experimental and theoretical grounds. The Brownian model of active particles with inertia is employed in the theoretical framework. The model itself uses a pulsed Langevin equation in order to simulate abrupt changes in velocity that mimic hexbug propulsion in the moments when its legs make contact with the base plate. Significant directional asymmetry is caused by the legs bending backward. We demonstrate that the simulation successfully reproduces the experimental characteristics of hexbug motion after regressing the spatial and temporal statistical characteristics, especially when directional asymmetry is under consideration.