Design and motion testing of a Multiple SMA fins driven BIUV

  • Yong-hua Zhang (章永华)Email author
  • Jian-hui He (何建慧)
  • Kinhuat Low


Fishes interact with the fluid environment using various surfaces. These multiple control surfaces work in combination to produce thrust and balance torques in steady swimming, to maneuver and to position themselves accurately even in turbulent flows. These motivated us to embark on a research program designed to develop an agile biologically inspired robotic fish based on the performance of multiple fins. To accomplish this goal, a mechanical ray-like fin actuated by Shape Memory Alloy (SMA) is developed, which can realize oscillating motion, undulating motion or even complex three dimensional motion. The basic unit is the two opposite side equipped SMA-driven plate, namely fin ray. As a result, a lightweight bio-inspired fin is constructed by placing radially multiple SMA fin rays. A biologically inspired underwater vehicle (BIUV) is later built using multiple above lightweight bio-inspired fins. Two common arrangement styles of multiple fins on the BIUV are considered here: one is the posterior fin (implement oscillating motion) that paralleled to the anterior fins (implement undulating motion); another one is the posterior fin that perpendicular to the anterior fins. The kinematic modeling, deformation modeling and detecting of the SMA fin were built. The thrust generation was also established. Finally, an experiment was conducted to test the performance of the proposed two arrangement styles, including the comparison of averaged propulsion velocity and averaged thrust under certain kinematic parameters. Meanwhile, the influence of frequency and amplitude of SMA fin ray on propulsion performance was also investigated.

Key words

oscillating undulating Shape Memory Alloy (SMA) Biologically Inspired Underwater Vehicle (BIUV) fin ray 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.



The authors gratefully acknowledge the financial support from the Scientific and Research Funds of the Department of Education of Zhejiang Province through grant #Y201329346. We also thank Prof. Zhang Shiwu and Dr. Jia Laibing for their valuable suggestions and comments.


  1. [1]
    Lauder G. V. Fish biorobotics: kinematics and hydrodynamics of self–propulsion [J], Journal of Experimental Biology, 2007, 210: 2767–2780.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. [2]
    Zhou C. L., Low K. H. Design and locomotion control of a biomimetic underwater vehicle with fin propulsion [J], IEEE/ASME Transactions on Mechatronics, 2012, 17(1): 25–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. [3]
    Low K. H. and Chong C. W. Parametric study of the swimming performance of a fish robot propelled by a flexible caudal fin [J], Bioinspiration & Biomimetics, 2010, 5(4): 046002.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. [4]
    Cai Y. R., Bi S. S., Zheng L. C. Design optimization of a bionic fish with multiple joint fin rays [J]. Advanced Robotics, 2012, 26(1–2): 177–196.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. [5]
    Su Y. M., Liu H. X., Zhang X. et al. Numerical research on the self–propelled swimming of a tuna like bio–mimetic underwater vehicle with flexible tail fin [J]. Journal of Ship Mechanics. 2013, 17(5): 468–477.Google Scholar
  6. [6]
    Hu T. J., Low K. H., Shen L. C. et al. Effective phase tracking for bioinspired undulations of robotic fish models: A learning control approach [J], IEEE/ASME Transactions on Mechatronics, 2014, 19(1): 191–200.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. [7]
    Li J., Guo Y. L., Wang Z. L. A bionic jellyfish robot propelled by bio–tentacle propulsors actuated by shape memory alloy wires [J]. Journal of harbin institute of technology, 2014, 46(1): 104–110.Google Scholar
  8. [8]
    Jin T., Liu T. R., Qin F. H. et al. Measurement and optimization of flexible double–tail fin for UUV [J], Journal of experimental mechanics, 2013, 28(1): 27–35.Google Scholar
  9. [9]
    He J. H., Zhang Y. H. Development and motion testing of a robotic ray [J], Journal of Robotics, 2015, 2015(24): 1–13.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. [10]
    Sfakiotakis M., Lane D. M., Davies B. C. An experimental undulating–fin device using the parallel bellows actuator [C], Proceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Robotics & Automation, Seoul, Korea, 2001, 2356–2362.Google Scholar
  11. [11]
    Chen Z., Um T. I., Bart–Smith H. Bio–inspired robotic Manta ray powered by Ionic Polymer–Metal Composite artificial muscles [J], International Journal of Smart and Nano Materials, 2012, 3(4): 296–308.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. [12]
    Wiguna T., Heo S., Park H. C. et al. Design and experimental parameteric study of a fish robot actuated by piezoelectric actuators [J], Journal of Intelligent Material Systems and Structures, 2009, 20: 751–757.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. [13]
    Huang P. H., Wang J. A new design of underwater robot fish system usin. Shape Memory Alloy [J], Applied Mechanics & Materials, 2012, 187(3): 260–266.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. [14]
    Feinberg A. W., Feigel A., Shevkoplyas S. S. et al. Muscular thin films for building actuators and powering devices [J]. Science, 2007, 317:1366–1370.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. [15]
    Rossi C., Colorado J., Coral W., Barrientos A. Bending continuous structures with SMAs: a novel robotic fish design [J], Bioinspiration & Biomimetics, 2011, 6(4): 045005.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. [16]
    Swense John P., Nawroj Ahsan I., Pounds Paul E. I. Active cells for redundant and configurable articulated structures [J], Smart Materials and Structures, 2014, 23(10): 100201.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. [17]
    Yan Q., Wang L., Zhang S. W. et al. A novel implementation of a flexible robotic fin actuated b. Shape Memory Alloy [J], Journal of Bionic Engineering, 2012, 9(2): 156–165.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. [18]
    Zhang S. W., Liu B., Wang L. et al. Design and implementation of a lightweight bio–inspired pectoral fin driven by SMA [J], IEEE Transactions on Mechatronics, 2014, 19(6): 1773–1785.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. [19]
    Tao T., Liang Y. C., Taya M. Bio–inspired actuating system for swimming using Shape Memory Alloy composites [J], International Journal of Automation and Computing, 2006, 4: 366–373.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. [20]
    Zhang Y. H., He J. H., Zhang S. W. et al. Underwater deformation precision analysis of Shape Memory Alloy actuators used in biomimetic fish fin [J], Robot, 2007, 29(4): 320–325.Google Scholar
  21. [21]
    Song Y., Zhang Y. H., Zhang S. W. et al. Optimum design of Shape Memory Alloy fin rays for flexible biomimetic fish fin [J], Machinery & Electronics, 2009, 5: 5–9.Google Scholar
  22. [22]
    Elahinia M., Ashrafiuon H. Nonlinear control of a Shape Memory Alloy actuated manipulator [J], Journal of Vibration and Acoustics, 2002, 124: 566–575.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. [23]
    Epstein M., Colgate J. E., Maciver M. A. Generating thrust with a biologically–inspired robotic ribbon fin [C], IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots & Systems, Beijing, China, 2006, 2412–2417.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© China Ship Scientific Research Center 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yong-hua Zhang (章永华)
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jian-hui He (何建慧)
    • 1
  • Kinhuat Low
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Mechatronics EngineeringTaizhou Vocational & Technical CollegeTaizhouChina
  2. 2.School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, NanyangTechnological UniversitySingaporeSingapore

Personalised recommendations