Design, Development, and Testing of Flapping Fins with Actively Controlled Curvature for an Unmanned Underwater Vehicle

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Abstract

This paper describes the design, construction, and testing of a biomimetic pectoral (side) fin with actively controlled curvature for UUV propulsion. It also describes the development of a test UUV and the design of a fin control system for vertical plane motion. A 3D unsteady computational fluid dynamics (CFD) analysis has been carried out to computationally optimize the fin design including a full study of the primary design parameters. The fin has been constructed and it can reproduce any specified deformation time-history. The full dynamics of the proposed vehicle have been modeled and the forces produced by the flapping fins computed. Finally, the stability of motion in the vertical plane has been analyzed and a control system has been designed.