Investigating the Thrust Production of a Myliobatoid-Inspired Oscillating Wing


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Myliobatidae is a family of large pelagic rays including cownose, eagle and manta rays. They are extremely efficient swimmers, can cruise at high speeds and can perform turn-on-a-dime maneuvering, making these fishes excellent inspiration for an autonomous underwater vehicle. Myliobatoids have been studied extensively from a biological perspective; however the fluid mechanisms that produce thrust for their large-amplitude oscillatory-style pectoral fin flapping are unknown. An experimental robotic flapping wing has been developed that closely matches the camber and planform shapes of myliobatoids. The wing can produce significant spanwise curvature, phase delays down the span, and oscillating frequencies of up to 1 Hz, capturing the dominant kinematic modes of flapping for myliobatoids. This paper uses dye flow visualization to qualitatively characterize the fluid mechanisms at work during steady-state oscillation. It is shown that oscillatory swimming uses fundamentally different fluid mechanisms than undulatory swimming by the generation of leading-edge vortices. Lessons are distilled from studying the fluid dynamics of myliobatoids that can be applied to the design of biomimetic underwater vehicles using morphing wing technology.



Edited by:

Pietro VINCENZINI and Salvatore GRAZIANI




K. W. Moored et al., "Investigating the Thrust Production of a Myliobatoid-Inspired Oscillating Wing", Advances in Science and Technology, Vol. 58, pp. 25-30, 2008

Online since:

September 2008