Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute

William Sandberg, Ph.D

Science Applications International Corporation

A Pectoral Fin-Propelled Swimming and Hovering UUV

Wednesday- September 17, 2008

Pacific Forum – 3:00 p.m.

The development of unmanned undersea vehicles (UUVs) capable of low-speed, high-maneuverability operations in near-shore environments is critical for many applications. The complexity of very shallow water environments, unsteady wave and current forces, and the range of possible vehicle missions necessitate quick-acting control mechanisms that generate high magnitude forces.
We have computationally studied the unsteady force generation by the pectoral fins of the bird wrasse, which uses these fins as its' sole means of both high speed propulsion and low-speed maneuvering under waves. A biomimetic fin rib structure, fin orientation, and rib kinematics have been computationally optimized.
We have built a biomimetic fin using shape deforming materials and have experimentally tested the propulsive forces generated. Results demonstrate that the fin can generate high forward thrust, high positive and negative lift, and effective reverse thrust. The computationally optimized UUV prototype has been built and open water experimental testing is planned.


Next: TBD