Generating thrust with a biologically-inspired robotic ribbon fin

Michael Epstein*, J. Edward Colgate, Malcolm A. Maciver

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

76 Scopus citations

Abstract

We present experimental results of thrust produced by a robotic propulsor, the design of which is inspired by the ribbon fin of the South American black ghost knifefish (Apteronotus albifrons). This remarkably nimble fish moves by oscillating its ribbon fin rays out of phase and thereby passing a traveling wave along the fin's length. Combinations of thrust from the ribbon fin and body rolls produced by the two pectoral fins enable the black ghost to swim in nearly any direction without bending its body. The fish's agile locomotor system is tightly integrated with its omnidirectional, active sensing system. The robotic ribbon fin has eight individually actuated metal rays which are linked by a thin latex sheet. The experimental results demonstrate the effect of varying the propulsive wave's frequency, amplitude and length on the robotic fin's thrust production. We found that thrust production peaks at particular combinations of the three variables and that the fin could produce steady forward thrust, despite the relatively small number of rays. The robotic ribbon fin has potential application as a propulsor for future underwater vehicles, in addition to being a valuable scientific instrument in understanding the swimming mechanics of the black ghost and similar fish.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication2006 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems, IROS 2006
Pages2412-2417
Number of pages6
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2006
Event2006 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems, IROS 2006 - Beijing, China
Duration: Oct 9 2006Oct 15 2006

Publication series

NameIEEE International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems

Other

Other2006 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems, IROS 2006
CountryChina
CityBeijing
Period10/9/0610/15/06

Keywords

  • Biomimetics
  • Black ghost knifefish
  • Underactuated

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Software
  • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition
  • Computer Science Applications

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