Towards amphibious robots: Asymmetric flapping foil motion underwater produces large thrust efficiently
Author(s)Licht, Stephen Carl; Wibawa, Martin; Hover, Franz S.; Triantafyllou, Michael S.
The development of amphibious robots requires actuation that enables them to crawl as well as swim; sea turtles are excellent examples of amphibious functionality, that can serve as the biomimetic model for the development of amphibious robots. In this paper we have implemented the observed swimming kinematics of Myrtle, a green sea turtle Chelonia Mydas residing in the Giant Ocean Tank of the New England Aquarium, on the 1.5-meter long biomimetic vehicle Finnegan the RoboTurtle. It is shown that these kinematics result in outstanding performance in (a) rapid pitching, and (b) rapid level turning. The turning radius for the rigid hull vehicle is 0.8 body lengths, a remarkable improvement in turning ability for a rigid hull vehicle. Still Finnegan’s performance lags the live turtle’s performance by about 20%. Careful observations have shown that turtles employ a fin motion in-line with the direction of locomotion; this degree of freedom was not available to the Finnegan fins, as presently designed. Experimental tests on a flapping fin equipped with this third degree of freedom have shown that the in-line motion enhances the fin’s performance. This hydrodynamic result is doubly beneficial to an amphibious robot, because it allows for further enhancements in the hydrodynamic function of fins, while the in-line motion allows the same fins to be used for crawling on land.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Sea Grant College Program
MIT Sea Grant Technical Reports;MITSG 09-35