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April 12, 2021: Embodied Sensing and Passive Mechanics in Fish-like Swimming

April 12, 2021
4:00 p.m.
For Zoom credentials, please email cloan@vt.edu
Dr. Phanindra Tallapragada, Clemson University
Faculty Host: Shane Ross

 Abstract: The concept of passive locomotion or dynamics, one that is achieved with no or minimal actuation, has been known to underpin the locomotion of a variety of animals. Essentially some (or all) degrees of freedom of a mobile body are unactuated and their dynamics are significantly determined by the environmental forces. Many species of fish can sense the ambient flow field and extract energy from it to improve their efficiency and agility. It would seem that some ability to sense and swim well is embodied in the morphology of their bodies and understanding the mechanics of this will enable engineers to design better swimming robots. This talk will first describe research on how passive degrees of freedom in a mechanical swimmer can bestow it improved agility. Swimmers with passive tails can manipulate the vortex wake around them in a manner that can aid their ability to turn. Even more interestingly the motion of passive tail-like appendages can encode information about the ambient flow field and the objects in it. Machine learning techniques can be applied on such kinematic information to classify the features of the flow. The second part of the talk will describe experimental work where the kinematics of a passive body in water are used to classify vortex wakes.

Bio: Phanindra Tallapragada is an associate professor in mechanical engineering at Clemson University. He got his Ph.D in Engineering Mechanics and M.S. in Mathematics from Virginia Tech in 2010 and did post doctoral research at the University of North Carolina Charlotte. He joined Clemson University in 2013. His research interests are in dynamical systems and bioinspired locomotion related to terrestrial motion, fish-like swimming and low Reynolds number swimming.