The mechanism of swimming dolphins and whales will help to create a new generation of underwater robots. Such devices will be fast, efficient, maneuverable and acoustically secretive. This is stated in a study by scientists from Lihai University, who modeled the process of movement of whales and dolphins.
The tail fins of cetaceans (whales and dolphins) come in a variety of forms. The mechanism of movement of the fins is also very different: for example, some cetaceans can clap them with a larger amplitude or tilt them at a steeper angle.
In a new work, researchers wanted to better understand this relationship between the two variables. To do this, they studied the mechanics of cetacean driving forces using numerical simulation of the movements of their oscillating caudal fins. In other words, the model had to qualitatively predict which fin movements should be as efficient as possible in accordance with its shape.
Using data on the shape and kinematics of five species of cetaceans – bottlenose dolphins, spotted dolphins, killer whales, false killer whales and beluga whales, they performed simulations for each species to determine its propulsive efficiency. Then they exchanged these places: for example, by running a simulation of the shape of an orca fin, tied to the kinematics of a dolphin.
The work showed that the shape of the false killer whale fin was the most ideal regardless of kinematics, and the mechanism of operation of the beluga fin turned out to be ideal regardless of shape.
These results, according to the authors of the work, will allow in the future to create fast, efficient, maneuverable and acoustically secretive underwater robots of the new generation.