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Title: Bio-Inspired Propulsion: Towards Understanding the Role of Pectoral Fin Kinematics in Manta-like Swimming
Through computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulations of a model manta ray body, the hydrodynamic role of manta-like bioinspired flapping is investigated. The manta ray model motion is reconstructed from synchronized high-resolution videos of manta ray swimming. Rotation angles of the model skeletal joints are altered to scale the pitching and bending, resulting in eight models with different pectoral fin pitching and bending ratios. Simulations are performed using an in-house developed immersed boundary method-based numerical solver. Pectoral fin pitching ratio (PR) is found to have significant implications in the thrust and efficiency of the manta model. This occurs due to more optimal vortex formation and shedding caused by the lower pitching ratio. Leading edge vortexes (LEVs) formed on the bottom of the fin, a characteristic of the higher PR cases, produced parasitic low pressure that hinders thrust force. Lowering the PR reduces the influence of this vortex while another LEV that forms on the top surface of the fin strengthens it. A moderately high bending ratio (BR) can slightly reduce power consumption. Finally, by combining a moderately high BR = 0.83 with PR = 0.67, further performance improvements can be made. This enhanced understanding of manta-inspired propulsive mechanics fills a gap more » in our understanding of the manta-like mobuliform locomotion. This motivates a new generation of manta-inspired robots that can mimic the high speed and efficiency of their biological counterpart « less
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