🐠 Modeling the Dynamics of Underwater Robots

Derek Paley

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Project type: Computation and Experiments

Schooling allows fish to swim more efficiently, but it is unclear what hydrodynamic mechanisms facilitate this benefit. The propulsive motion of a swimming fish creates alternating patterns of vorticity in water that could in principle be exploited by conspecifics to reduce drag or enhance thrust. Field and laboratory experiments have shown that schools generally do not conform to highly regularized topologies and flow visualization and 3D computational fluid dynamics have shown that the wake of fishes do not follow the assumed pattern of classic models. Recent work has re-evaluated the fundamental topological unit for hydrodynamic benefits in terms of pairs of interacting swimmers.

TREND participants in this project would engage addressing questions about schooling and its applications in engineered systems such as:

  • What are the appropriate metrics for assessing the benefits of the hydrodynamic mechanisms that enhance swimming? How do these mechanisms scale with school size, speed, and tail beat frequency and amplitude?
  • How can passive and active body deformations be used to exploit hydrodynamic interactions? What are the limits of schooling in perturbed hydrodynamic environments?

This project will investigate sensory and hydrodynamic benefits of close-proximity swimming in fish and fish-inspired underwater vehicles using a principled mathematics-based approach.

Professor Paley has worked with nearly 60 undergraduate students in his Collective Dynamics and Control Laboratory, including nine TREND students.

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