Seminar Series

PG Talks: Why Are There No Submarines With a Fish Tail?


PhD Candidate Michael Coe


Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Canterbury

Time & Place

Thu, 26 Nov 2020 14:00:00 NZDT in E14, Engineering Core


Fish have had millions of years of evolution to perfect their underwater propulsion. The most efficient product of that evolution is the Thunniform mode of fish locomotion. In contrast, humans have perfected the design and building of propeller type underwater propulsors. My research involves the scaling of propulsion for different types of fish. I am specifically looking into how different propulsion modes scale with size in terms of power needed to achieve self-propulsion. The power needed is quantified in an estimate of the cost of transport of a specific swimming mode at a specific scale. The purpose of this research is to determine if fish propulsion is more suitable at different length and weight scales versus traditional propellers. This also answers the question of whether or not flapping propulsors are suitable for something as large as a submarine and if traditional propellers are more effective, is there an inflection point between the two.

Stefanie Gutschmidt, Michael Coe, robotic fish

Supervisor: Associate Prof Stefanie Gutschmidt