There are over 35,000 species of fishes, and a key feature of this remarkable evolutionary diversity is the variety of propulsive systems used by fishes for swimming in the aquatic environment. A hallmark of fish propulsion is the use of numerous control surfaces which act to transfer momentum to the surrounding fluid. In this presentation I will discuss how the development of fish-inspired swimming devices, from the very simple to the complex, have contributed to understanding the diversity of fish propulsive systems. Simple 2D flapping propulsive devices provide considerable insight into the fundamental physics of propulsion by flexible bodies, while complex robotic devices enable more-fish like dynamics. Despite considerable progress, most fish-like robotic systems swim relatively slowly and with a much higher cost of transport compared to fishes. I will describe our ongoing collaborative work to develop a robotic platform inspired by tuna, the tunabot, that achieves high-performance locomotion with fish-like kinematics and low power consumption.
George V. Lauder received the A.B. and Ph.D. degrees in biology from Harvard University in 1976 and 1979 respectively. Since 1999 he has been Professor of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University. His research interests focus on the biomechanics and evolution of fishes, and applying our understanding of fish locomotor function to the design of fish-like robotic devices.
Lab web site:http://www.people.fas.harvard.edu/~glauder/