A relationship between sweep angle of flapping pectoral fins and thrust generation

Soheil Arastehfar*, Chee-Meng Chew, Athena Jalalian, Gunawan Gunawan, Khoon Seng Yeo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


Propulsive capability of manta rays' flapping pectoral fins has inspired many to incorporate these fins as propulsive mechanisms for autonomous underwater vehicles. In particular, geometrical factors such as sweep angle have been postulated as being influential to these fins' propulsive capability, specifically their thrust generation. Although effects of sweep angle on static/flapping wings of aircrafts/drones have been widely studied, little has been done for underwater conditions. Furthermore, the findings from air studies may not be relatable to the underwater studies on pectoral fins because of the different Reynolds number (compared to the flapping wings) and force generation mechanism (compared to the static wings). This paper aims to establish a relationship between the sweep angle and thrust generation. An experiment was conducted to measure the thrust generated by 40 fins in a water channel under freestream and still water conditions for chord Reynolds number between 2.2 ×;104 and 8.2 × 104. The fins were of five different sweep angles (0 deg, 10 deg, 20 deg, 30 deg, and 40 deg) that were incorporated into eight base designs of different flexibility characteristics. The results showed that the sweep angle (within the range considered) may have no significant influence on these fins' thrust generation, implying no significant effects on thrust under uniform flow condition and on the maximum possible thrust under still water. Overall, it can be concluded that sweep angle may not be a determinant of thrust generation for flapping pectoral fins. This knowledge can ease the decision-making process of design of robots propeled by these fins.

Original languageEnglish
Article number011014
JournalJournal of mechanisms and robotics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2019
Externally publishedYes


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