Autonomous Robotic Fish-Like Underwater Vehicle

Lead Pi: Michael Triantafyllou · 8/1996 - 7/1998

Project Personnel:

Project number: 1996-RC-51

Objectives:To develop, construct and test a foru feet automous fish like vehicle, which will be used to test and transition technology for substantially improving the maneuvering performance of marine vehicles, and optimize porpulsive efficiency. Based on the successful construction and testing of the “RoboTuna” in the laboratory, and the identification of the principal mechanism for fast starting and rapid maneuvering in fish, we are in a unique position to develop novel technology for rapidly maneuvering vehicles, which will push forward substantially the state of the art. We plan to use genetic algorithms to optimize the design of the fish within the limits of existing hardware.Methodology:A combination of analytical, numerical and experimental methods will be applied. Analytical work will be restricted to proof of concept tests on mechanisms of flow control. Numerics are developed in close cooperation with experimental work. Experimental work will be a very significant component, in conjunction with Digital Particle Image Velocimetry (DPIV) . The development of an autonomous, flexible, vehicle and associated equipment for sensing and control is a central focus of the study. Finally, genetic algorithms will eb used to optimize the performance and to generate alternative maneuvers more appropriate for technology development. The team of researchers who will be involved includes Prof D.K.P. Yue of MIT, Dr. M.A. Grosenbaugh of WHOI, and Prof G.S. Triantafyllou of CCNY.Rationale:A new paradigm of flow control has emerged from the “RoboTuna” studies: Contrary to established belief that formation of eddies in an undesirable flow mechanism, always resulting in waster power and increase in drag, it has been shown that traditionally powed craft are limited exactly by their inability to produce and control vortical patterns. Creating and manipulating large eddies provides new capabilities for propulsion and maneuvering, which are out of reach for traditionally powered vehicles.Many autonomous vehicles are close in size and shape to fast swimming fish and the newly developed technology of the RoboTuna can be transitioned first to AUV, so as to be tested for other marine craft as well. The construction of an autonomous robotic fish like vehicle is a substantial technological step in that direction.Improving substantially the maneuvering and propulsive performance of marine vehicles is the principal marine related problem.