Size-scaling limits of impulsive elastic energy release from a resilin-like elastomer

Elastically-driven motion has been used as a strategy to achieve high speeds in small organisms and engineered micro-robotic devices. We examine the size-scaling relations determining the limit of elastic energy release from elastomer bands with mechanical properties similar to the biological protein resilin. The maximum center-of-mass velocity of the elastomer bands was found to be size-scale independent, while smaller bands demonstrated larger accelerations and shorter durations of elastic energy release. Scaling relationships determined from these measurements are consistent with the performance of small organisms which utilize elastic elements to power motion. Engineered devices found in the literature do not follow the same size-scaling relationships, which suggests an opportunity for improved design of engineered devices.