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26 March 2015 Fin propulsion on a human-powered submarine
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Abstract
Nearly all surface and underwater vessels are driven by screw propulsion; ideal for coupling to rotary engines and well understood after over a century of development. But most aquatic creatures use fins for swimming. Although there are sound evolutionary reasons why fish have fins and not propellers, they are nevertheless agile, fast and efficient. Although fish-like robots such as the MIT Robotuna are providing good insight into fin-based swimming there are advantages for using humans in the experimental device. Like an airplane test pilot they can write crash reports. We present preliminary observations for the human powered finned submarine: Taniwha. The sub participated in the 2nd European International Submarine races in Gosport UK where it received a trophy for “Best Non-Propeller Performance”. Two sets of Hobie Mirage fin drives fixed to the upper and lower rear surfaces of the sub are pedaled by the pilot. The pilot also has two levers at the front, one to pitch a pair of dive planes and one for yawing a large rudder. Good speed, we estimate to be greater than 6 m/s is possible with these fins although we haven’t explored their full potential. Straying too near the surface or bottom can lead to an instability, synonymous to a stall, such that control is lost. The mechanism for this will be discussed and solutions offered. Fish are 400 million years in front of us but one day we’ll catch them.
© (2015) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.
Iain A. Anderson, Benjamin Pocock, Antoni Harbuz, Cam Algie, Daniel Vochezer, Ryan Chao, and Benjamin Lu "Fin propulsion on a human-powered submarine", Proc. SPIE 9429, Bioinspiration, Biomimetics, and Bioreplication 2015, 94290P (26 March 2015); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2084095
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