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Squid-inspired design could mean better handling of underwater vehicles

and may enable researchers to explore previously inaccessible places. Currently, many designers are trying to devise better docking systems for underwater vehicles, but Mohseni said he and his collaborators wanted to improve the watercrafts' actual maneuvering capabilities.

"We didn't want to treat the symptom alone," he said. "We made it our goal to resolve a widespread problem."

Mohseni created his new generators after studying the formation of vortex rings, much like those formed by squid and jellyfish to move themselves underwater. Vortex rings are formed when a burst of fluid shoots out of an opening, moving in one direction and spreading out as it curls back.

The researcher's nature-inspired vortex generators could be used in a wide array of applications. One of them, a seeming take-off of technology featured in the sci-fi cult classics "Fantastic Voyage" and "Innerspace," employs tiny capsules that could travel through the human digestive tract to diagnose and treat diseases and disperse medications.

To date, Mohseni and his collaborators in the CU-Boulder aerospace engineering department have designed and tested three separate unmanned underwater vehicles. With the latest model, the team successfully conducted a parallel parking test. The team also has designed a series of other micro vehicles for air and underwater use. A National Science Foundation grant is funding their research.
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Source:University of Colorado at Boulder


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