Optimal flapping strokes for self-propulsion in a perfect fluid

Shane D. Ross
Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering, University of Southern California
Los Angeles, CA 90089, USA.


Some animals rely on flapping or rowing a symmetrical pair of jointed appendages to generate locomotion in a fluid. We consider a simple model of the motion of such an animal propelling itself via cyclic flapping strokes in a perfect fluid. Furthermore, we determine which strokes yield the greatest locomotive efficiency, defined as those which minimize the control effort per unit distance traveled.

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