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Crustacean Swimming for Bio-Inspired Propulsion in Autonomous Underwater Vehicles

Crustacean Swimming for Bio-Inspired Propulsion in Autonomous Underwater Vehicles

Indah Merkel

Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering

Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs) are robotic devices used for a variety of purposes, such as monitoring marine environments and collecting data. Most AUVs use a single rear-powered propeller for propulsion; this is inefficient for small-scale AUVs which have large drag forces. Thus, a more efficient way to propel AUVs is needed. Crustaceans use four or five pairs of limbs known as swimmerets to move; this is an effective method of propulsion because if one or two limbs fail, the creature can continue to swim. The objective of this research is to analyze how crustacean limb structure and swimming mechanics affect propulsive performance in order to improve AUV design. The analysis will consist of two main focuses: implementation of a 3D dual swimmeret layout and investigation of limb flexibility in the swimmeret model. For this project, swimmerets were designed based off of imaging from live crustaceans. The swimmerets were then constructed out of acrylic. The layout for the physical model consisted of four pairs of swimmerets. The swimmerets were then immersed in a ten-gallon aquarium tank filled with specific mixtures of glycerin and water. These mixtures were made to match certain Reynolds numbers (Re) to match the fluid forces on the physical model to the fluid forces actual crustaceans experience. Stepper motors were used to paddle the swimmerets. Particle image velocimetry (PIV) was used to determine the efficiency of the swimmerets, and further analysis was quantified using Matlab software.