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Proceedings Paper • Open Access

How fish swim: flexible fin thrusters as an EAP platform
Author(s): George V. Lauder

Paper Abstract

Fish are capable of remarkable locomotor performance and use their fins extensively for both propulsion and maneuvering. Recent interest in using fishes as inspiration for the design of a new generation of autonomous underwater vehicles has prompted both new experimental studies of fish locomotor function and efforts to use electroactive polymers (EAP) as actuators in fish-inspired propulsive devices. The fins of fishes allow precise control over body position and vectoring of thrust during propulsion and maneuvering. Recent experimental studies of fish locomotion have revealed that fins exhibit much greater flexibility than previously suspected and that there is considerable deformation of the fin surface during locomotion. The fins of the large group known as ray-finned fishes are supported by fin rays, which have a bilaminar structure that allows active curvature control of the ray and fin surface by the fin musculature. Fish have up to seven different fins, and these fins may interact with each other hydrodynamically during locomotion. Fish fins provide an excellent test platform for the use of electroactive polymer actuators as the frequency of movement is typically less than 5 Hz, and fin muscle strains typically range from 2 to 10%. Recent developments of biorobotic fish pectoral fins actuated with EAP are reviewed.

Paper Details

Date Published: 4 April 2007
PDF: 8 pages
Proc. SPIE 6524, Electroactive Polymer Actuators and Devices (EAPAD) 2007, 652402 (4 April 2007); doi: 10.1117/12.714512
Show Author Affiliations
George V. Lauder, Harvard Univ. (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 6524:
Electroactive Polymer Actuators and Devices (EAPAD) 2007
Yoseph Bar-Cohen, Editor(s)

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