Modeling, Testing and Control of an Underwater Propulsion System Utilizing Oscillating Surfaces

Professor John F. Gardner
Department of Mechanical Engineering
The Pennsylvania State University

While nature provides nearly countless examples of creatures capable of high speed and extreme maneuverability, man-made attempts at aquatic motion seems plodding at best. Researchers have indicated that propulsion systems that are more biomimetic might lead to higher performance for aquatic vehicles. This talk will deal with issues in modeling the propulsive effort in tursiops turncatus, the Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphin, and explore the potential for this approach for man-made vehicles. The talk will present an innovative approach to modeling dolphin and fish propulsion at low speeds as well as the transition between low and high speed behaviors in dolphins and fish. Finally, the use of these models for the design and control of craft using this approach to propulsion will be explored.