Impact of caudal fin geometry on the swimming performance of a snake-like robot

Zhong Huang, Shugen Ma, Ziming Lin, Kaijia Zhu, Peng Wang, Reza Ahmed, Chao Ren, Hamid Marvi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Eels and sea snakes are known for long migrations and high endurance cruising and can be great sources of inspiration for underwater robots. This study employs both computational and experimental techniques to explore the impact of caudal fin design on the swimming performance of a snake-like robot. The caudal fin geometry is systematically varied by changing the leading edge and trailing edge angles. Inspired by sea snakes, the robot mimics an anguilliform swimming gait. Robotic experiments and computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulations are carried out with different caudal fin geometries. The results show that the snake-like robot achieves the best swimming speed and efficiency at an 85°leading edge angle and a 120°convex trailing edge angle. In addition, the numerical simulation results show that the wake structure formed by the snake-like robot consists of two parallel disconnected verse van Karman vortex rings. When the leading edge angle is slightly below 90°the body vortex merges and interacts with the caudal fin's vortex. This interaction contributes strongly to wake construction and significantly enhances swimming speed and efficiency.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number110372
JournalOcean Engineering
StatePublished - Feb 1 2022


  • Caudal fin
  • Hydrodynamics
  • Snake-like robot
  • Wake structure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Ocean Engineering


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