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Boxfish with multiple fins can maneuver in confined spaces with a near zero turning radius, and it has been found that its unusual boxy shape is responsible for a self-correcting mechanism that makes its trajectories immune to water disturbances. The microautonomous robotic ostraciiform aims to apply these features in a novel underwater vehicle design. Miniature underwater vehicles with these characteristics have a variety of applications, such as environmental monitoring, ship wreck exploration, inline pipe inspection, forming sensor networks, etc. This paper presents the research leading to the design and fabrication of a robotic ostraciiform. Tail fin hydrodynamics have been investigated experimentally using robotic flapper mechanisms to arrive at a caudal fin shape with optimal-shape-induced flexibility. Fluid simulation studies were utilized to arrive at the body shape that can result in a self-correcting vorticity generation. Finally, the robotic ostraciiform prototype was designed based on the previous results. The ostracifform locomotion is implemented with a pair of 2 DOF pectoral fins and a single DOF tail fin. The finalized body shape of the robot is produced by 3-D prototyping two separate halves.
Date of Publication: Feb. 2008