Two researchers from the University of California in San Diego studied the aerodynamic and propulsive advantages of a means of transport inspired by cephalopods
Nature is always a source of inspiration for scientists, as in this case where a submarine model inspired by squid with advanced fluid dynamics studies has been studied. The article describes the simulations made on models in two and three dimensions and analyzes the vortexes of the fluid that the body inspired by squid leaves behind.
The two physicists Xiaobo Bi and Qiang Zhu, from the Department of Structural Engineering at the University of San Diego in California, have developed a mathematical model to analyze in detail the pulsed propulsion of cephalopods. The study was published in the pages of Physics of Fluids, journal of AIP Publishing, and shows the very high speeds that a squid-like shape could reach. The propulsion mechanism uses chambers that first absorb water and then expel it at high pressure, the model also considers the soft body of the vehicle.
Aspects to improve
The long time simulations, however, show a limit in the stability of the squid-like submarine due to turbulence in the flows and loss of symmetry of the body. This aspect will allow scientists to focus future studies on a system of relaxation and stiffening of the body as a function of the propulsion cycle and on the passive control of the outgoing flow. The final step will be to move from theory to practice, as Qiang Zhu says: “In addition to the simulations of two and three dimensional models presented in the last article, we are working with an interdisciplinary team to build a prototype of the mechanical device inspired by squids. Our goal is to perform both straight-line swimming and maneuvers. This project will combine fluid dynamics, control, development of innovative materials and robotic design”. Who knows if these two researchers will achieve their goal, maybe in a few years on the seabed in addition to the much sought after giant squid we could see a squid-like submarine at work.