Mechanics and control of swimming: A review

J. Edward Colgate*, Kevin M. Lynch

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

379 Scopus citations


The bodies and brains of fish have evolved to achieve control objectives beyond the capabilities of current underwater vehicles. One route toward designing underwater vehicles with similar capabilities is to better understand fish physiological design and control strategies. This paper has two objectives: 1) to review clues to artificial swimmer design taken from fish physiology and 2) to formalize and review the control problems that must be solved by a robot fish. The goal is to exploit fish locomotion principles to address the truly difficult control challenges of station keeping under large perturbations, rapid maneuvering, power-efficient endurance swimming, and trajectory planning and tracking. The design and control of biomimetic swimming machines meeting these challenges will require state-of-the-art engineering and biology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)660-673
Number of pages14
JournalIEEE Journal of Oceanic Engineering
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2004


  • Controllability
  • Motion primitives
  • Robot fish design
  • Station keeping
  • Swimming modes
  • Trajectory tracking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ocean Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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