Gait and Morphology Optimization for Articulated Bodies in Fluids


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Virginia Tech


The contributions of this dissertation can be divided into three primary foci: input waveform optimization, the modeling and optimization of fish-like robots, and experiments on a flapping wing robot. Novel contributions were made in every focus.

The first focus was on input waveform optimization. This goal of this research was to develop a means by which the optimal input waveforms can be selected to vibrationally stabilize a system. Vibrational stabilization is the use of high-frequency, high-amplitude periodic waveforms to stabilize a system about a desired state. The contributions presented herein develop a technique to choose the best" input waveform and a discussion of how the best" input waveform changes with the definition of ``best."

The next focus was the optimization of a fish-like robot. In order to optimize such robots, a new model for fish-like locomotion is developed. An optimization technique that uses numerous simulations of fish-like locomotion was used to determine the best gaits for traveling at various speeds. Based on these results, trends were found that can determine the optimal gait using a couple relatively simple functions.

The final focus was experimentation on a flapping wing robot in a wind tunnel. These experiments determined the performance of the flapping wing robot at a variety of flight conditions. The results of this research were presented in manner that is accessible to the larger aircraft design community rather than only to those specializing in flapping flight.



Bio-inspired Vehicles, Optimization, Averaging, Geometric Control