Bio Inspired Propulsion

Discussion in 'Propulsion' started by Rasmith, Aug 28, 2021.

  1. Rasmith
    Joined: Aug 2021
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    Location: WA

    Rasmith Junior Member

    I am relatively new to this site but have noticed that this Propulsion Forum segment does not have a segment devoted to what may be considered non conventional marine propulsion systems, an example of which is listed below.

    Caudal fin propulsion is is one of several biologic propulsion methods and is studied in the following two papers.

    Hydrodynamic study of freely swimming shark fish propulsion for marine vehicles using 2D particle image velocimetry

    Hydrodynamic study of freely swimming shark fish propulsion for marine vehicles using 2D particle image velocimetry - Robotics and Biomimetics

    Fish and ships: can fish inspired propulsion outperform traditional propulsion based systems?

    A more general approach includes various biological propulsion systems as outlined in the following paper.

    Biological Propulsion Systems for Ships and Underwater Vehicles
    Biological Propulsion Systems for Ships and Underwater Vehicles

    These systems are broken down in to the following categories:

    Lift-based propulsion
    Drag-based propulsion
    Undulatory propulsors
    Jet propulsors

    I have an interest in the lift based and undulatory propulsers as proposed for whale tail applications and dive fins. (See the Dive Fin thread. Why are longer diving fins more efficient?

    I am also considering experiments with a "duck foot" simulation for a high speed walk on water propulsion system.
    Will Gilmore likes this.
  2. DogCavalry
    Joined: Sep 2019
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    Location: Vancouver bc

    DogCavalry Senior Member

    Hi Rasmith, welcome to the forum.
    That's some really interesting stuff. We get contributions here from time to time that are bio related, or bio inspired, but there's no dedicated category. If we get enough content, the moderator can, at their discretion, create that category. So I guess it's up to you to generate enough of a discourse that that happens.:)

    I for one will avidly read anything you send us.
  3. Rasmith
    Joined: Aug 2021
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    Location: WA

    Rasmith Junior Member

    Thanks for explaining how things work here. This is a sideline for me but I will give it a go.

    Here are videos of a few simple systems.

    Norwegian researchers are doing studies that I found interesting. In searching for a recent proposal I found this but it is not the one I was looking for that provided mechanical power to the fin.

    Adding a "Whale Tail" to Reduce Fuel Consumption
    'Whale tails' can make maritime transport more efficient
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  4. Will Gilmore
    Joined: Aug 2017
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    Location: Littleton, nh

    Will Gilmore Senior Member

    I haven't a whole lot to contribute here, but I find this subject interesting, so I'm posting in support of your thread and to follow along.

    I am reminded of the yuloh, with the video above. Maneuverability and obstacle avoidance are thoughts that come to mind.
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  5. gonzo
    Joined: Aug 2002
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    Location: Milwaukee, WI

    gonzo Senior Member

    I think a quick test would be to race that boat against a conventional shell. There are many types of systems that will work. However, they may be more complicated, expensive and inefficient than what is currently in use. Different does not mean better.
  6. Rasmith
    Joined: Aug 2021
    Posts: 10
    Likes: 7, Points: 3
    Location: WA

    Rasmith Junior Member

  7. Rasmith
    Joined: Aug 2021
    Posts: 10
    Likes: 7, Points: 3
    Location: WA

    Rasmith Junior Member

    DogCavalry likes this.

  8. Rasmith
    Joined: Aug 2021
    Posts: 10
    Likes: 7, Points: 3
    Location: WA

    Rasmith Junior Member

    The following is copied from in response to posting the above referenced (post #7) video on birds. Still more airplane than boat applications but at the very end there are links for the Trampofoil and Aquaskipper that are manpowered hydrofoils using the foil for propulsion. There is no propeller.

    "I find it interesting to ponder how this thread would have differed if the researchers had done their bubble test with a sea gull instead of an owl.

    For example:

    The development of a flying drone prototype would be complete.

    The uncertainty of the wing grid development and performance would be removed.

    The wild performance claims would be tempered. Gulls do not carry four times their weight.

    We may have ventured into seaplane design.

    The proposed design would have had more sailplane characteristics and lower power requirements making it more suitable for electric propulsion with existing technology.

    However, several unresolved problems would remain. These problems have not yet been addressed in either case.

    No successful “landing gear” has been found. The “Festo Bird” and other projects are hand launched and “belly” land. The need for additional landing gear development was pointed out in prior post page 2 post # 21.

    The folding mechanism design has not been addressed. In my opinion this is the most important parameter to develop for the large man carrying version. It is even more significant for an estimated 32 foot span sea gull than the proposed 26 foot span owl. In my opinion it is also the problem that is most easily solved as the bio-folding is easily studied and understood. Three D modeling is available and straight forward. Furthermore, wing folding for storage and transport is one of the most requested optional design parameters of the EAB design process.

    I would like to extend a sincere thanks to all who have participated. This thread, started less than a week ago, has been more entertaining and interesting than any flying I have done in the last week. I hope you all have enjoyed it also.

    I would like to individually address VB and ask, if given the choice, would he prefer the turbine powered owl or the un-powered sea gull over the SGS 1-26 that got away. And, as a prospective customer and a person of considerable notoriety and ingenuity, but perhaps average wealth, What would be a limiting budget for a prospective customer?

    I offer the following links for additional research and information.

    Festo Robotic Seagull March 2011 Flight demonstration

    Festo SmartBird - Bird flight deciphered April 2011 Research and Development

    Festo – BionicFlyingFox (English/Deutsch)

    Ornithopter propulsion.
    Tracing the History of the Ornithopter: Past, Present, and Future Benjamin J. Goodheart
    Journal of Aviation/Aerospace Education & Research
    Volume 21 Number 1 JAAER Fall 2011 Article 8 Fall 2011
    PDF available on request for a limited time from

    The Technological Prospects for Oscillating-Wing Propulsion of Ultralight Gliders
    AIAA Paper No.74-1028 by Jerzy Wolf

    Reference number 7 for the above report: Pseudo-Ornithopter Propulsion NASA Report CR-2315 1972 by Grant Smith presented at MIT Technical Soaring Symposium in 1971.
    Pseudo-ornithopter propulsion. | Article Information | J-GLOBAL

    Trampofoil (TRAMPOFOIL®) and Aquaskiper Human-powered hydrofoil - Wikipedia"
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