A novel bio-inspired propulsion system for autonomous vessels is suggested using two vertical oscillating hydrofoils in a side-by-side configuration. This research examines the feasibility of such a system for enabling high maneuverability as well as better efficiency using the relative movement between the two foils compared to a propulsion system based on a single oscillating foil. The motivation for using oscillating foils in autonomous vessels are the need to save energy for long range mission by creating a more efficient propulsion system and the ability to combine the thrust unit and the maneuvering unit into one system, making the vessel easier to control. This system will enable autonomous control of the vessels by changing speed and phase of the hydrofoils to provide both thrust and maneuverability with one unit.
An overview will be given of the movements of natural swimmers, followed by the explanation of the kinematics and the forces acting on a foil undergoing heaving and pitching motions. The purpose of the experimental system and the specifications will be defined. From these, various design configurations of the system will be presented, which will emphasize the mechanics, the array of sensors, electronics, software and more. The selected configuration will be presented in detail as well as the calibration methods and feasibility testing against previous experiments. A number of experimental results will then be presented. The presentation will end with recommendations for improving the system as well as additional work that can be performed on the subject in the future.