Knifefish undulate an elongated ribbon fin to propel through the fluid. I study the underlying swimming mechanics using a robotic model based on the ribbon fin of these knifefish. This robot, called the ghostbot, has 32 independently actuated and controlled motors to drive the rays of the ribbon fin. Thus, we can reproduce fin kinematics observed on the knifefish, or explore other possible wave forms. I have built a flow tunnel, which works as a treadmill for the ghostbot, capable of measuring free swimming velocities and thrust force magnitudes achieved through the fin/fluid interactions. I also built a digital particle velocimetry system to measure velocity fields in the flow to examine the fin/fluid interations more closely. Using these tools, we have unraveled the complicated flow structures generated by the fin and have started to learn how to control a knifefish inspired vehicle to maneuver through complex environments.
Bachelor of Science in General Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign