Improved Lighthill fish swimming model for bio-inspired robots: Modeling, computational aspects and experimental comparisons

The best known analytical model of swimming was originally developed by Lighthill and is known as the large amplitude elongated body theory (LAEBT). Recently, this theory has been improved and adapted to robotics through a series of studies ranging from hydrodynamic modeling to mobile multibody system dynamics. This article marks a further step towards the Lighthill theory. The LAEBT is applied to one of the best bio-inspired swimming robots yet built: the AmphiBot III, a modular anguilliform swimming robot. To that end, we apply a Newton-Euler modeling approach and focus our attention on the model of hydrodynamic forces. This model is numerically integrated in real time by using an extension of the Newton-Euler recursive forward dynamics algorithm for manipulators to a robot without a fixed base. Simulations and experiments are compared on undulatory gaits and turning maneuvers for a wide range of parameters. The discrepancies between modeling and reality do not exceed 16% for the swimming speed, while requiring only the one-time calibration of a few hydrodynamic parameters. Since the model can be numerically integrated in real time, it has significantly superior accuracy compared with computational speed ratio, and is, to the best of our knowledge, one of the most accurate models that can be used in real-time. It should provide an interesting tool for the design and control of swimming robots. The approach is presented in a self contained manner, with the concern to help the reader not familiar with fluid dynamics to get insight both into the physics of swimming and the mathematical tools that can help its modeling.

Published in:
International Journal Of Robotics Research, 33, 10, 1322-1341
London, Sage Publications Ltd

 Record created 2014-11-13, last modified 2018-12-03

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