Design and implementation of a biomimetic turtle hydrofoil for an autonomous underwater vehicle

Sensors (Basel). 2011;11(12):11168-87. doi: 10.3390/s111211168. Epub 2011 Nov 28.


This paper presents the design and implementation of a turtle hydrofoil for an Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV). The final design of the AUV must have navigation performance like a turtle, which has also been the biomimetic inspiration for the design of the hydrofoil and propulsion system. The hydrofoil design is based on a National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) 0014 hydrodynamic profile. During the design stage, four different propulsion systems were compared in terms of propulsion path, compactness, sealing and required power. The final implementation is based on a ball-and-socket mechanism because it is very compact and provides three degrees of freedom (DoF) to the hydrofoil with very few restrictions on the propulsion path. The propulsion obtained with the final implementation of the hydrofoil has been empirically evaluated in a water channel comparing different motion strategies. The results obtained have confirmed that the proposed turtle hydrofoil controlled with a mechanism with three DoF generates can be used in the future implementation of the planned AUV.

Keywords: AUV; DoF; propulsion system; sea turtle locomotion.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biometry*
  • Equipment Design*
  • Models, Animal*
  • Motor Vehicles*
  • Turtles*
  • Water*


  • Water