Numerical model of self-propulsion in a fluid

D. J J Farnell, T. David, D. C. Barton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We provide initial evidence that a structure formed from an articulated series of linked elements, where each element has a given stiffness, damping and driving term with respect to its neighbours, may 'swim' through a fluid under certain conditions. We derive a Lagrangian for this system and, in particular, we note that we allow the leading edge to move along the x-axis. We assume that no lateral displacement of the leading edge of the structure is possible, although head 'yaw' is allowed. The fluid is simulated using a computational fluid dynamics technique, and we are able to determine and solve Euler-Lagrange equations for the structure. These two calculations are solved simultaneously by using a weakly coupled solver. We illustrate our method by showing that we are able to induce both forward and backward swimming. A discussion of the relevance of these simulations to a slowly swimming body, such as a mechanical device or a fish, is given. © 2005 The Royal Society.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)79-88
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the Royal Society Interface
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2005


  • Fluid
  • Numerical
  • Self-Propulsion
  • Simulation
  • Structure


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