Hydrodynamic investigation of a self-propelled robotic fish based on a force-feedback control method
We implement a mackerel (Scomber scombrus) body-shaped robot, programmed to display the three most typical body/caudal fin undulatory kinematics (i.e. anguilliform, carangiform and thunniform), in order to biomimetically investigate hydrodynamic issues not easily tackled experimentally with live fish. The robotic mackerel, mounted on a servo towing system and initially at rest, can determine its self-propelled speed by measuring the external force acting upon it and allowing for the simultaneous measurement of power, flow field and self-propelled speed. Experimental results showed that the robotic swimmer with thunniform kinematics achieved a faster final swimming speed (St = 0.424) relative to those with carangiform (St = 0.43) and anguilliform kinematics (St = 0.55). The thrust efficiency, estimated from a digital particle image velocimetry (DPIV) flow field, showed that the robotic swimmer with thunniform kinematics is more efficient (47.3%) than those with carangiform (31.4%) and anguilliform kinematics (26.6%). Furthermore, the DPIV measurements illustrate that the large-scale characteristics of the flow pattern generated by the robotic swimmer with both anguilliform and carangiform kinematics were wedge-like, double-row wake structures. Additionally, a typical single-row reverse Karman vortex was produced by the robotic swimmer using thunniform kinematics. Finally, we discuss this novel force-feedback-controlled experimental method, and review the relative self-propelled hydrodynamic results of the robot when utilizing the three types of undulatory kinematics.