Skip to main content

Development of an Experimental Rig for Emulating Undulatory Locomotion

  • Conference paper
  • First Online:
Nonlinear Structures & Systems, Volume 1


Some creatures, such as eels, snakes and slender fish use body undulations to move the fluid around them and create propulsion; similarly, travelling waves in structures can be used as an alternative propulsion system. Based on this bio-inspired mechanism, the application of travelling waves is widespread in engineering, e.g. motors, pump systems and transport devices. However, generating high amplitude travelling waves is not as easy as generating standing waves, since travelling waves are generally observed away from resonance. Also, the reflection of the waves at the boundaries can interact destructively further reducing their amplitude. This paper investigates the characteristics of the experimental rig built for emulating the propulsion mechanism used in undulatory locomotion, introducing the conceptual design, and investigating the features that promote travelling waves. Finally, an analysis of the influence of individual components in the design is carried out.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this chapter

Subscribe and save

Springer+ Basic
EUR 32.99 /Month
  • Get 10 units per month
  • Download Article/Chapter or eBook
  • 1 Unit = 1 Article or 1 Chapter
  • Cancel anytime
Subscribe now

Buy Now

USD 29.95
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
USD 169.00
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as EPUB and PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
Softcover Book
USD 219.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Compact, lightweight edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info
Hardcover Book
USD 219.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Durable hardcover edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info

Tax calculation will be finalised at checkout

Purchases are for personal use only

Institutional subscriptions

Similar content being viewed by others


  1. Cohen N, Boyle JH (2009) Undulatory locomotion. arXiv e-prints

    Google Scholar 

  2. Marras, S., Killen, S.S., Lindström, J., McKenzie, D.J., Steffensen, J.F., Domenici, P.: Fish swimming in schools save energy regardless of their spatial position. Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol. 69(2), 219–226 (2014).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Tytell, E.D., Borazjani, I., Sotiropoulos, F., Baker, T.V., Anderson, E.J., Lauder, G.V.: Disentangling the functional roles of morphology and motion in the swimming of fish. Integr. Comp. Biol. 50(6), 1140–1154 (2010).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Muller, U.K., van Leeuwen, J.L.: Undulatory fish swimming: from muscles to flow. Fish Fish. 7(2), 84–103 (2006).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Gray, J.: Studies in animal locomotion. I The movement of fish with special reference to the eel. J. Exp. Biol. 10(1), 88–104 (1933)

    Google Scholar 

  6. Taylor, G.I.: Analysis of the swimming of long and narrow animals. Proc. R. Soc. London Ser. A Math. Phys. Sci. 214(1117), 158–183 (1952).

    Article  MATH  Google Scholar 

  7. Gray, J., Hancock, G.J.: The propulsion of sea-urchin spermatozoa. J. Exp. Biol. 32(4), 802–814 (1955)

    Google Scholar 

  8. Lighthill, M.J.: Note on the swimming of slender fish. J. Fluid Mech. 9(2), 305–317 (1960).

    Article  MathSciNet  Google Scholar 

  9. Lighthill, M.J.: Large-amplitude elongated-body theory of fish locomotion. Proc. R. Soc. London Ser. B Biol. Sci. 179(1055), 125–138 (1971).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Wu, T.Y.-T.: Hydromechanics of swimming propulsion. Part 1. Swimming of a two-dimensional flexible plate at variable forward speeds in an inviscid fluid. J. Fluid Mech. 46(2), 337–355 (1970).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Eloy, C., Schouveiler, L.: Optimisation of two-dimensional undulatory swimming at high Reynolds number. Int. J. Non-Linear Mech. 46(4), 568–576 (2011).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Tyson, R., Jordan, C.E., Hebert, J.: Modelling anguilliform swimming at intermediate Reynolds number: a review and a novel extension of immersed boundary method applications. Comput. Methods Appl. Mech. Eng. 197(25–28), 2105–2118 (2008).

    Article  MathSciNet  MATH  Google Scholar 

  13. Wiggins, C.H., Goldstein, R.E.: Flexive and propulsive dynamics of Elastica at low Reynolds number. Phys. Rev. Lett. 80(17), 3879–3882 (1998).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Triantafyllou, M.S., Triantafyllou, G.S., Yue, D.K.P.: Hydrodynamics of fishlike swimming. Annu. Rev. Fluid Mech. 32(1), 33–53 (2000).

    Article  MathSciNet  MATH  Google Scholar 

  15. Cox, R.G.: The motion of long slender bodies in a viscous fluid part 1. General theory. J. Fluid Mech. 44(04), (1970).

  16. Lavie, A.M.: Analysis of the swimming of elastic slender bodies excited by an external force. J. Fluid Mech. 53(4), 701–714 (1972).

    Article  MATH  Google Scholar 

  17. Ramananarivo, S., Godoy-Diana, R., Thiria, B.: Passive elastic mechanism to mimic fish-muscle action in anguilliform swimming. J. R. Soc. Interface. 10(88), (2013).

  18. Jackson, J.D.: Classical Electrodynamics, Third edn. Wiley, Hoboken, New Jersey (1999)

    MATH  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to S. N. H. Syuhri .

Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

Copyright information

© 2021 The Society for Experimental Mechanics, Inc

About this paper

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this paper

Syuhri, S.N.H., McCartney, A., Cammarano, A. (2021). Development of an Experimental Rig for Emulating Undulatory Locomotion. In: Kerschen, G., Brake, M.R., Renson, L. (eds) Nonlinear Structures & Systems, Volume 1. Conference Proceedings of the Society for Experimental Mechanics Series. Springer, Cham.

Download citation

  • DOI:

  • Published:

  • Publisher Name: Springer, Cham

  • Print ISBN: 978-3-030-47625-0

  • Online ISBN: 978-3-030-47626-7

  • eBook Packages: EngineeringEngineering (R0)

Publish with us

Policies and ethics