Tailbeat perturbations improve swimming efficiency by reducing the phase lag between body motion and the resulting fluid response

Li Ming Chao, Laibing Jia, Siyuan Wang, Alexander Liberzon, Sridhar Ravi, Iain D. Couzin, Liang Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Understanding how animals swim efficiently and generate high thrust in complex fluid environments is of considerable interest to researchers in various fields, including biology, physics, and engineering. However, the influence of often-overlooked perturbations on swimming fish remains largely unexplored. Here, we investigate the propulsion generated by oscillating tailbeats with superimposed rhythmic perturbations of high frequency and low amplitude. We reveal, using a combination of experiments in a biomimetic fishlike robotic platform, computational fluid dynamics simulations, and theoretical analysis, that rhythmic perturbations can significantly increase both swimming efficiency and thrust production. The introduction of perturbations increases pressure-induced thrust, while reduced phase lag between body motion and the subsequent fluid dynamics response improves swimming efficiency. Moreover, our findings suggest that beneficial perturbations are sensitive to kinematic parameters, resolving previous conflicts regarding the effects of such perturbations. Our results highlight the potential benefits of introducing perturbations in propulsion generators, providing potential hypotheses for living systems and inspiring the design of artificial flapping-based propulsion systems.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPNAS nexus
Volume3
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2024

Keywords

  • computational fluid dynamics
  • hydrodynamics
  • perturbations
  • robotics
  • swimming efficiency

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General

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