Impact of Marine Locomotion Constraints on a Bio-inspired Aerial-Aquatic Wing: Experimental Performance Verification

Richard J. Lock*, Ravi Vaidyanathan, Stuart C. Burgess

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)
456 Downloads (Pure)


This paper describes the design, fabrication, experimental testing and performance optimization of the morphology of a flapping wing for use on a robot capable of aerial and aquatic modes of locomotion. The focus of the optimization studies is that of wing design for aquatic propulsion. Inspiration for the research stems from numerous avian species which use a flapping wing for the dual purpose of locomotion (propulsion) in both air and water. The main aim of this research is to determine optimal kinematic parameters for marine locomotion that maximize nondimensionalized performance measures (e. g., propulsive efficiency), derived from analysis of avian wing morphing mechanisms that balance competing demands of both aerial and aquatic movement. Optimization of the kinematic parameters enables the direct comparison between outstretched (aerial) and retracted (aquatic) wing morphologies and permits trade-off studies in the design space for future robotic vehicles. Static foils representing the wing in both an extended and retracted orientation have been manufactured and subsequently subjected to testing over a range of kinematics. Details of the purpose built 2 degree-of-freedom (dof) flapping mechanism are presented. The gathered results enable validation of previously developed numerical models as well as quantifying achievable performance measures. This research focuses on the mechanical propulsive efficiencies and thrust coefficients as key performance measures whilst simultaneously considering the required mechanical input torques and the associated thrust produced.

Original languageEnglish
Article number011001
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Mechanisms and Robotics
Issue number1
Early online date31 Oct 2013
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2014




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