Design and development of modular magnetic bio-inspired autonomous underwater robot – MMBAUV

Wright, Marvin and Xiao, Qing and Dai, Saishuai and Post, Mark and Yue, Hong and Sarkar, Bodhi (2023) Design and development of modular magnetic bio-inspired autonomous underwater robot – MMBAUV. Ocean Engineering, 273. 113968. ISSN 0029-8018 (

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This paper describes the design and construction of a magnetically coupled modular bio-inspired underwater robot named the Modular Magnetic Bio-Inspired Underwater Vehicle (MMBAUV). Designed to form a traveling wave to mimic efficient Body Caudal Fin (BCF) swimming and manoeuvring, its modularity allows for flexible system setup and offers an opportunity for redundancy and cost reduction through a common design structure. The specific feature of this design presents a novel application of a permanent synchronous magnetic coupling between neighbouring modules with a rotational degree of freedom (DoF). The actuated magnetic coupling provides a reliable and low maintenance solution to the fundamental issues of water tightness of flexible underwater structures. When encountering extreme conditions, the magnetic coupling allows the safe decoupling of the modules increasing the survivability of the robotic system. Presented lab testing results demonstrate the function of the design and provide initial evidence of its thrust generation and manoeuvrability.