University of Massachusetts Amherst

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MIE Seminar

FLAPPING PROPULSION: From passive flexibility to active tip control


Thursday, August 11, 2016 - 2:00pm


Francisco Huera-Huarte


Kellogg Room, Elab II


The swimming of fish is characterised by complex kinematics. These kinematics are governed not only by passive bony or cartilaginous structures, but also by active ones and tissue such as muscles. There has been a wide interest in the recent years regarding the understanding of the role of stiffness in flapping propulsion because of the implications this topic has in biomimetics and especially in all related to underwater robotics. Research has been carried out either by studying living fish or by using simplified robotics to simulate the way real fish swim. It is now evident that compliance and shape play an important role in propulsion, but passive structures are not able to exhibit some of the physics underlying the swimming of fish.

In this work we use a simplified robotic fin that allows to investigate the role of passive flexibility as well as the effects of controlling the motion of the trailing edge region of the fin. The role of this active controlled surface on the propulsion performance of the system will be discussed. Thrust measurements and planar velocimetry in the near wake of the fin allows identifying the best kinematics for thrust production while operating in a wide variety of amplitude, frequency and phase difference situations.

Short bio:
Francisco finished his PhD at the Department of Aeronautics of Imperial College London in 2006. After a short postdoctoral appointment at UPC, Spain (BarcelonaTech) he joined Universitat Rovira i Virgili in Tarragona (Spain) in 2006 as Assistant Professor. In 2007 he got one of the prestigious Marie Curie Individual Fellowships (International Outgoing Fellowship) from the European Commission to spend 2008 and 2009 at the Graduate Aerospace Laboratories (GALCIT) of the California Institute of Technology. He became Associate Professor in Mechanical Engineering at URV in 2011. In 2014 and 2015 he has was Visiting Associate in Aerospace at Caltech, in 2015 he acted as Guest Faculty at ESPCI, ParisTech & CNRS. In 2014 he received the “Agustin de Betancourt y Molina” Young investigator Award from the Royal Academy of Engineering and in 2015 the “Isabel P. Trabal” Young investigator Award from the Spanish Institution of Mechanical Engineers. (both with more than 250 applicants).