Nature in engineering for monitoring the oceans: towards a bio-inspired flexible AUV operating in an unsteady flow

Phillips, Alexander B., Blake, J.I.R., Smith, B., Boyd, S.W. and Griffiths, G. (2010) Nature in engineering for monitoring the oceans: towards a bio-inspired flexible AUV operating in an unsteady flow. Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part M: Journal of Engineering for the Maritime Environment, 224, (4), 267-278. (doi:10.1243/14750902JEME201).


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It has long been understood that swimming marine animals have evolved capabilities in terms of speed, manoeuvrability, and efficiency which are desirable for underwater vehicles. Despite this, solutions inspired by nature, or bio-inspiration, are very rarely applied to solve engineering challenges. In particular, it is understood that fish have the ability to alter their mode of swimming to interact with naturally produced vortices as a method of conserving energy and in certain instances extracting energy from a flow. This paper considers whether a bio-inspired flexible autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) could exploit unsteady flow features to reduce its cost of transport. An analytical model is developed which allows an AUV designer to predict which flow frequencies excite the natural vibration modes of a flexible cylinder. It is demonstrated that by placing a flexible cylinder in an unsteady flow, such as downstream of a bluff body, a similar mechanism to that used by fish may be exploited to move the cylinder upstream with no power input except that extracted from the flow.

Item Type: Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): doi:10.1243/14750902JEME201
ISSNs: 1475-0902 (print)
2041-3084 (electronic)
Related URLs:
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GC Oceanography
Q Science > QH Natural history > QH301 Biology
Q Science > QL Zoology
V Naval Science > VM Naval architecture. Shipbuilding. Marine engineering
Divisions : University Structure - Pre August 2011 > National Oceanography Centre (NERC)
University Structure - Pre August 2011 > School of Engineering Sciences
National Oceanography Centre (NERC) > Ocean Technology and Engineering
ePrint ID: 151073
Accepted Date and Publication Date:
Date Deposited: 27 May 2010 11:45
Last Modified: 31 Mar 2016 13:23
Nature in Engineering for Monitoring the Oceans (NEMO)
Funded by: EPSRC (EP/F066767/1)
Led by: Gwyn Griffiths
3 July 2009 to 30 September 2012

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