Yellow-fin tuna mimicking underwater vehicle

The promise of faster, energy efficient, agile and stealth vehicles for sea locomotion remains very appealing to the global economy. Underwater submersibles based on traditional propeller propulsion systems still have low efficiencies and open issues in balancing onboard energy and maneuverability at low speeds. In comparison, fish can change directions with a turning radius of 10-30% of their body length while maintaining their speeds.


The promise of faster, energy efficient, agile and stealth vehicles for sea locomotion remains very appealing to the global economy. Underwater submersibles based on traditional propeller propulsion systems still have low efficiencies and open issues in balancing onboard energy and maneuverability at low speeds. In comparison, fish can change directions with a turning radius of 10-30% of their body length while maintaining their speeds.


In this research, Abhra Roy Chowdhury and colleagues from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the National University of Singapore looked at different species of fish for an efficient and agile locomotion solution to solve the current energy and maneuverability challenge for submersibles (or other vehicles for oceanic applications). After studying several species of fish and consulting with colleagues from the biology department, the answer came in the form of the swimming style (called the Body Caudal Fin (BCF) mode of swimming) of carangiform fish such as the tropical Yellow-fin tuna.


By mimicking the propulsion mechanism of carangiform fish, the underwater vehicle was found to be the 14.68% more efficient compared to a traditional undulatory propulsion. This is a state-of-the-art efficiency improvement. Being eco-friendly it terms of material use, energy efficiency, noise, and stealth, the device can easily find a place in a wide variety of ocean transport applications.


Part of this project was also submitted as part of Biomimicry Student Design Challenge 2014 by Abhra Roy Chowdhury and Anuj Jain.

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