Science-Driven Robots to Study the Fluid Mechanics of Animal Propulsion

Michael Triantafyllou

Department of Mechanical Engineering, MIT




In the biomimetic study of the fluid mechanics of fish swimming and bird flying, robotic devices can assist in exploring the basic flow mechanisms that govern animal locomotion. We will review a sequence of robotic devices, some complex and other simple, which allowed the derivation of scaling laws and the identification of mechanisms of flow control. We will start with fast swimmers, such as tunas, then proceed to fast-starting fish like the pike, Karman-gaiting fish like the trout, animals employing wings with a single powerstroke, such as turtles underwater and flying birds, and conclude with the fast-starting octopus.