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Plenary Talk


April 6, Wednesday 11:15-12:15

“Biomometic sensors to improve underwater locomotion“

The development of biomimetic, low-power, robust sensing and control systems can lead to substantial improvements in energy efficiency and maneuverability of underwater and surface autonomous vehicles using micro-pressure sensor arrays to detect and control their flow features and select the optimal attitude, emulating the outstanding performance of live fish.

Autonomous underwater and surface vehicles are typically streamlined bodies along their long axis in order to minimize drag, and hence decrease energy consumption. The vehicle’s cross-section is often circular or oblong-shaped; if the vehicle is subject to a sidewise velocity component, or when turning, the flow separates creating a large wake and large drag forces. These drag forces can increase energy expenditures manifold or significantly inhibit the maneuvering performance of a vehicle.

Turning to biomimetics, there is a striking example in fish, which employ a unique organ to sense their flow: The lateral line of fish is an organ without analog in humans. It is critically important to the fish's propulsive and maneuvering performance as it provides continuous flow information and warns them of obstacles and predators even in cluttered and turbid environments, or even in dark surroundings.

In this presentation I will outline the development of MEMS based micro-pressure sensor arrays as well as methodologies for detecting flow patterns and the presence of objects, which will increase the operating envelope of vehicles, particularly for high- speed locomotion and maneuvering.

First, I will outline the development of MEMS sensor arrays, their biomimetic design and their sensitivity, as well as the construction methodology and their testing underwater. Then I will outline methodologies for the detection of flow patterns, generated by the body itself, or caused by other nearby objects.

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