In underwater locomotion, extracting meaningful information from local flows is as desirable as it is challenging, due to complex fluid-structure interaction. Sensing and motion are tightly interconnected; hydrodynamic signals generated by the external stimuli are modified by the self-generated flow signals. Given that very little is known about self-generated signals, we used onboard pressure sensors to measure the pressure profiles over the head of a fusiform-shape craft while moving forward and backward harmonically. From these measurements we obtained a second-order polynomial model which incorporates the velocity and acceleration of the craft to estimate the surface pressure within the swimming range up to one body length/second (L s(-1)). The analysis of the model reveals valuable insights into the temporal and spatial changes of the pressure intensity as a function of craft's velocity. At low swimming velocities (<0.2 L s(-1)) the pressure signals are more sensitive to the acceleration of the craft than its velocity. However, the inertial effects gradually become less important as the velocity increases. The sensors on the front part of the craft are more sensitive to its movements than the sensors on the sides. With respect to the hydrostatic pressure measured in still water, the pressure detected by the foremost sensor reaches values up to 300 Pa at 1 L s(-1) swimming velocity, whereas the pressure difference between the foremost sensor and the next one is less than 50 Pa. Our results suggest that distributed pressure sensing can be used in a bimodal sensing strategy. The first mode detects external hydrodynamic events taking place around the craft, which requires minimal sensitivity to the self-motion of the craft. This can be accomplished by moving slowly with a constant velocity and by analyzing the pressure gradient as opposed to absolute pressure recordings. The second mode monitors the self-motion of the craft. It is shown here that distributed pressure sensing can be used as a speedometer to measure the craft's velocity.
- OPEN WATER