Maneuvering and stability performance of a robotic tuna

Integr Comp Biol. 2002 Feb;42(1):118-26. doi: 10.1093/icb/42.1.118.


The Draper Laboratory Vorticity Control Unmanned Undersea Vehicle (VCUUV) is the first mission-scale, autonomous underwater vehicle that uses vorticity control propulsion and maneuvering. Built as a research platform with which to study the energetics and maneuvering performance of fish-swimming propulsion, the VCUUV is a self-contained free swimming research vehicle which follows the morphology and kinematics of a yellowfin tuna. The forward half of the vehicle is comprised of a rigid hull which houses batteries, electronics, ballast and hydraulic power unit. The aft section is a freely flooded articulated robot tail which is terminated with a lunate caudal fin. Utilizing experimentally optimized body and tail kinematics from the MIT RoboTuna, the VCUUV has demonstrated stable steady swimming speeds up to 1.2 m/sec and aggressive maneuvering trajectories with turning rates up to 75 degrees per second. This paper summarizes the vehicle maneuvering and stability performance observed in field trials and compares the results to predicted performance using theoretical and empirical techniques.