Performance Analysis for Lateral-Line-Inspired Sensor Arrays

Vicente Fernandez, Ph.D., 2011
Michael Triantafyllou, Advisor

The lateral line is a critical component of the fish sensory system, affecting aspects of behavior including maneuvering in complex fluid environments, schooling, and prey tracking.  This sensory organ has no analog in ocean vehicles and could fill the gap for navigation left by sonar and vision systems in turbid cluttered environments.  This thesis demonstrates and characterizes the ability of lateral-line-inspired pressure sensor arrays to perform two sensory tasks of relevance to biological and man-made underwater vehicles, namely object and vortex tracking.

The ability of pressure sensor arrays to emulate the lateral line's "touch at a distance" feature, corresponding to the capability of identifying the shape of objects remotely, is examined for moving cylinders of different cross sections.  Using the pressure distribution on a small linear array, the position and size of a cylinder is also tracked. 

Identifying the vortices in a flow makes it possible to predict and optimize the performance of flapping foils and to identify imminent stall on a control surface. Experimental studies demonstrate the ability to track vortices with a pressure sensor array from both small streamlined and large flat bodies.  In addition, the relationship between array parameters and the range of trackable vortices is established.