Experimental study of the hydrodynamic interaction between a fish and an actively pitching airfoil

Rishita Das, Sean D. Peterson, Maurizio Porfiri

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


The phenomenon of fish schooling - coordinated swimming of fish in polarized groups of specific spatial formations - is commonly observed in several species of fish. Fish schooling may even provide hydrodynamic advantages reducing the overall swimming cost of the group. To date, the role of hydrodynamics in coordinated swimming is not completely understood as it is difficult to separately study the role of hydrodynamic interaction from other forms of interaction between the fish. Here, we propose a statistical methodology based on information theoretic tools and flow velocity measurements, that can potentially tease out the hydrodynamic interaction pathways from visual and tactile ones. To avoid experimental confounds from bidirectional interactions and objectively understand cause-and-effect relationships, we design a robotic platform that mimics the behavior of two fish swimming in-line in a controlled setup inside a water channel. We examine the response of a flag to the fish-like unsteady wake generated by an actively pitching airfoil located upstream. We systematically quantify the passive hydrodynamic effect by studying the flapping motion of the flag located downstream of the airfoil in response to both periodic pitching and less predictable, random startling motion of the upstream airfoil. The study integrates experimental biomimetics with information theory to establish a deeper understanding of hydrodynamics in fish schooling.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationBioinspiration, Biomimetics, and Bioreplication XIII
EditorsMato Knez
ISBN (Electronic)9781510660694
StatePublished - 2023
EventBioinspiration, Biomimetics, and Bioreplication XIII 2023 - Long Beach, United States
Duration: Mar 13 2023Mar 14 2023

Publication series

NameProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
ISSN (Print)0277-786X
ISSN (Electronic)1996-756X


ConferenceBioinspiration, Biomimetics, and Bioreplication XIII 2023
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityLong Beach


  • Fish schooling
  • Fluid dynamics
  • Information theory
  • Unsteady hydrodynamics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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