Low-Speed Maneuvering Hydrodynamics of Fish and Small Underwater Vehicles

[+] Author and Article Information
P. R. Bandyopadhyay, J. M. Castano, J. Q. Rice, R. B. Philips, W. H. Nedderman

Naval Undersea Warfare Center, Newport Division, Code 8233, Newport RI 02841-1708

W. K. Macy

Graduate School of Oceanography, University of Rhode Island, Kingston, Rl

J. Fluids Eng 119(1), 136-144 (Mar 01, 1997) (9 pages) doi:10.1115/1.2819099 History: Received May 16, 1995; Revised November 26, 1996; Online December 04, 2007


The low-speed maneuvering by fish and small underwater vehicles is considered. The focus is on fluid engineering rather than on biology. An attempt is made to learn from aquatic animals and apply the distilled knowledge to build maneuvering devices. The work is described in three parts. In the first, the morphology of twenty eight species of fish is considered. They are classified into three categories: low speed highly maneuverable, high speed poorly maneuverable, and an overlapping category, viz., high speed highly maneuverable. The qualitative relationship between the length scales of their fins and maneuvering ability is examined. Next, an obstacle-filled aquarium is built and the maneuvering trajectories of two species of fish that are fast yet maneuverable, are video-taped and digitized. Their performance are compared with those of small underwater vehicles. In this manner, the maneuvering “gap” between nature and engineering which appears to be large, is quantified. Finally, based on their length scales in species offish that are deft in maneuvering, a dorsal-fin based maneuvering device is built and its behavior is studied.

Copyright © 1997 by The American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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