How lateral-line sensing can enable swimming fish to judge their relative position and kinematic synchronization with a neighbor

Flow field computed around a pair of swimming fish. The pressure and shear-stress signals along the sides of the protagonist fish are monitored while changing the relative position and tail-beat phase lag of the companion fish.

For fish, swimming in group may be favorable to individuals. Several works reported that in a fish school, individuals sense and adjust their relative position to prevent collisions and maintain the group formation. Also, from a hydrodynamic perspective, relative-position and kinematic synchronisation between adjacent fish may considerably influence their swimming performance. Fish may sense the relative-position and tail-beat phase difference with their neighbors using both vision and the lateral-line system, however, when swimming in dark or turbid environments, visual information may become unavailable. To understand how lateral-line sensing can enable fish to judge the relative-position and phase-difference with their neighbors, in this study, based on a verified three-dimensional computational fluid dynamics approach, we simulated two fish swimming adjacently with various configurations. The lateral-line signal was obtained by sampling the surface hydrodynamic stress. The sensed signal was processed by Fast Fourier Transform (FFT), which is robust to turbulence and environmental flow. By examining the lateral-line pressure and shear-stress signals in the frequency domain, various states of the neighboring fish were parametrically identified. Our results reveal that the FFT-processed lateral-line signals in one fish may potentially reflect the relative-position, phase-differences, and the tail-beat frequency of its neighbor. Our results shed light on the fluid dynamical aspects of the lateral-line sensing mechanism used by fish. Furthermore, the presented approach based on FFT is especially suitable for applications in bioinspired swimming robotics. We provide suggestions for the design of artificial systems consisting of multiple stress sensors for robotic fish to improve their performance in collective operation.

Hydrodynamical Fingerprint of a Neighbour in a Fish Lateral Line
G. Li, D. Kolomenskiy, H. Liu, B. Thiria & R. Godoy-Diana Frontiers in Robotics and AI: Bio-Inspired Robotics section 9, 825889 (2022)
doi: 10.3389/frobt.2022.825889

Hydrodynamics of the frontal strike in aquatic snakes

Hydrodynamics of the frontal strike in aquatic snakes: drag, added mass and the consequences for prey capture success


M. Segall, A. Herrel & R. Godoy-Diana
Bioinspiration & Biomimetics
14, 036005 (2019)
bioRxiv preprint:

Transient locomotion under water is highly constrained by drag and added mass, yet some aquatic snakes catch their prey using a fast forward acceleration, with the mouth opened. These aquatic snakes show a convergence of their head shape in comparison with closely related species that do not forage under water. As both drag and added mass are related to some extent to the shape of the moving object, we explored how shape impacts the hydrodynamic forces applied to the head of a snake during a prey capture event. We compared two 3D- Continue reading “Hydrodynamics of the frontal strike in aquatic snakes”

Review paper: Insect and insect-inspired aerodynamics

Image credit: T. Engels (see also Engels et al. Physical Review Fluids 4, 013103, 2019)


Insect and insect-inspired aerodynamics: unsteadiness, structural mechanics and flight control
R. Bomphrey & R. Godoy-Diana
Current Opinion in Insect Science 30, 26–32 (2018)

Flying insects impress by their versatility and have been a recurrent source of inspiration for engineering devices. A large body of literature has focused on various aspects of insect flight, with an essential part dedicated to the dynamics of flapping wings and their intrinsically unsteady aerodynamic mechanisms. Insect wings flex during flight and a better understanding of structural mechanics and aeroelasticity is emerging. Most recently, insights from solid and fluid mechanics have been integrated with physiological measurements from visual and mechanosensors in the context of flight control in steady airs and through turbulent conditions. We review the key recent advances concerning flight in unsteady environments and how the multi-body mechanics of the insect structure — wings and body — are at the core of the flight control question. The issues herein should be considered when applying bio-informed design principles to robotic flapping wings.

Review paper: Fluid dynamic drag in animal swimming and flying

On the diverse roles of fluid dynamic drag in animal swimming and flying
R. Godoy-Diana & B. Thiria
Journal of the Royal Society Interface 15 20170715 (2018)

Questions of energy dissipation or friction appear immediately when addressing the problem of a body moving in a fluid. For the most simple problems, involving a constant steady propulsive force on the body, a straightforward relation can be established balancing this driving force with a skin friction or form drag, depending on the Reynolds number and body geometry. This elementary relation closes the full dynamical problem and sets, for instance, average cruising velocity or energy cost. Continue reading “Review paper: Fluid dynamic drag in animal swimming and flying”

Flapping elastic plates as a model of fish-like swimmers

Modelling of an actuated elastic swimmer
M. Piñeirua, B. Thiria & R. Godoy-Diana
Journal of Fluid Mechanics 829 731-750 (2017)
[doi:10.1017/jfm.2017.570]PDF file

We studied the force production dynamics of undulating elastic plates as a model for fish-like inertial swimmers. Using a beam model coupled with Lighthill’s large-amplitude elongated-body theory, we explore different localised actuations at one extremity of the plate (heaving, pitching and a combination of both) in order to quantify the reactive and resistive contributions to the thrust. The latter has the Continue reading “Flapping elastic plates as a model of fish-like swimmers”

Resistive thrust production can be as crucial as added mass mechanisms for inertial undulatory swimmers

resistive_vs_reactiveResistive thrust production can be as crucial as added mass mechanisms for inertial undulatory swimmers
M. Piñeirua, R. Godoy-Diana & B. Thiria
Physical Review E 92 021001(R) (2015).
[doi:10.1103/PhysRevE.92.021001] arXiv

We address here a crucial point regarding the description of moderate to high Reynolds numbers aquatic swimmers. For decades, swimming animals have been classified in two different families of propulsive mechanisms based on the Reynolds number: the resistive swimmers, using local friction to produce the necessary thrust force for locomotion at low Reynolds number, and the reactive swimmers, lying in the high Reynolds range, and using added mass acceleration (described by perfect fluid theory). Continue reading “Resistive thrust production can be as crucial as added mass mechanisms for inertial undulatory swimmers”

Four-winged flapping flyer in forward flight

mite4ailes Four-winged flapping flyer in forward flight
R. Godoy-Diana, P. Jain, M. Centeno, A. Weinreb & B. Thiria
In Klapp et al. (eds.), Selected Topics of Computational and Experimental Fluid Mechanics, Environmental Science and Engineering, pp. 147-158. Springer (2015).
[doi:10.1007/978-3-319-11487-3_8] PDF file

We study experimentally a four-winged flapping flyer with chord-wise flexible wings in a self-propelled setup. For a given physical configuration of the flyer (i.e. fixed distance between the forewing and hindwing pairs and fixed wing flexibility), we explore the kinematic parameter space constituted by the flapping frequency and the forewing-hindwing phase lag. Continue reading “Four-winged flapping flyer in forward flight”

Undulatory swimming near a wall

wall_effect_visuLarge-amplitude undulatory swimming near a wall
R. Fernández-Prast, V. Raspa, B. Thiria, F. Huera-Huarte & R. Godoy-Diana. Bioinspiration and Biomimetics 10 016003 (2015).


[PDF file]

We study experimentally the propulsive dynamics of flexible undulating foils in a self-propelled swimming configuration near a wall. Measurements of swimming speed and propulsive force are performed, together with full recordings of the elastic wave kinematics and particle image velocimetry. Continue reading “Undulatory swimming near a wall”

Habilitation à diriger des recherches (HDR)

Bio-inspired swimming and flying – Vortex dynamics and fluid/structure interaction

Ramiro Godoy-Diana
Habilitation à diriger des recherches, Université Pierre et Marie Curie, 2014.

PDF file here (19.4 MB)

The present document, prepared in view of obtaining the Habilitation à diriger des recherches, reviews my main research subject at PMMH since 2006, which concerns the study of swimming and flying inspired by nature. Canonical examples of flapping flight and undulatory swimming are explored using simplified experimental models as a starting point. This allows for the discussion of some fundamental questions related to the physics of bio-inspired locomotion at “intermediate” Reynolds numbers. In particular, we address the strong fluid-structure interactions that arise in these problems, where we have focused on: simplified models of flapping foils in hydrodynamic tunnel experiments, especially in the dynamics of vorticity in the wake of an oscillating foil ; mechanical models of flapping flyers with flexible wings in a self-propelled configuration (in the spirit of the pioneer experiments of Etienne-Jules Marey), as well as novel experimental models of undulatory swimming.
Continue reading “Habilitation à diriger des recherches (HDR)”

Drag in undulatory swimmers

vortices_foilsVortex-induced drag and the role of aspect ratio in undulatory swimmers
V. Raspa, S. Ramananarivo, B. Thiria & R. Godoy-Diana. Physics of Fluids, 26 : 041701 (2014).

During cruising, the thrust produced by a self-propelled swimmer is balanced by a global drag force. For a given object shape, this drag can involve skin friction or form drag, both being well-documented mechanisms. However, for swimmers whose shape is changing in time, the question of drag is not yet clearly established. Continue reading “Drag in undulatory swimmers”

Propagating waves in bounded elastic media

fig_beamsPropagating waves in bounded elastic media: an application to the efficiency of bio-inspired swimmers
S. Ramananarivo, R. Godoy-Diana & B. Thiria.
EPL, 105 : 54003 (2014).

Confined geometries usually involve reflected waves interacting together to form a spatially stationary pattern. Our recent study on the locomotion of a self-propelled elastic swimmer on a free surface [Ramananarivo et al. 2013], however, has shown that propagating wave kinematics can naturally emerge in a forced elastic rod, even with boundary conditions involving significant reflections. This particular behavior is observed only in the presence of strong damping. Continue reading “Propagating waves in bounded elastic media”

Passive elastic mechanism to mimic fish-muscles action in anguilliform swimming

nageur_Ramananarivo_etalPassive elastic mechanism to mimic fish-muscles action in anguilliform swimming
S. Ramananarivo; R. Godoy-Diana & B. Thiria.
Journal of the Royal Society Interface 10 : 20130667 (2013).

Abstract: Swimmers in nature use body undulations to generate propulsive and maneuvering forces. The an- guilliform kinematics is driven by muscular actions all along the body, involving a complex temporal and spatial coordination of all the local actuations. Such swimming kinematics can be reproduced artificially, in a simpler way, by using passively the elasticity of the body. Here we present experiments on self-propelled elastic swimmers at a free surface in the inertial regime. Continue reading “Passive elastic mechanism to mimic fish-muscles action in anguilliform swimming”

Topology-induced effect in biomimetic propulsive wakes

two_flapsTopology-induced effect in biomimetic propulsive wakes
V. Raspa; R. Godoy-Diana & B. Thiria.
Journal of Fluid Mechanics, 729: 377-387 (2013).

Abstract: It is known that the wake pattern observed in a cross-section behind swimming or flying animals is typically characterized by the presence of periodical vortex shedding. However, depending on species, propulsive wakes can differ according to the spatial ordering of the main vortex structures. We conducted a very precise experiment to analyse the role of the topology of the wake in the generation of propulsion by comparing two prototypical cases in a quasi-two-dimensional view. Continue reading “Topology-induced effect in biomimetic propulsive wakes”

Force balance in the take-off of a pierid butterfly

Force balance in the take-off of a pierid butterfly: relative importance and timing of leg impulsion and aerodynamic forces

G. Bimbard, D. Kolomenskiy, O. Bouteleux, J. Casas & R. Godoy-Diana.
Journal of Experimental Biology, 216 : 3551-3563 (2013).

Abstract: Up to now, the take-off stage remains an elusive phase of insect flight relatively poorly explored compared to other maneuvers. An overall assessment of the different mechanisms involved in the force production during take-off has never been explored. Focusing on the first downstroke, we have addressed this problem from a force balance perspective in butterflies taking-off from the ground. Continue reading “Force balance in the take-off of a pierid butterfly”

Stabilizing effect of flexibility in the wake of a flapping foil

flex_vs_rig_jetStabilizing effect of flexibility in the wake of a flapping foil
C. Marais; B Thiria; Wesfreid, J. E. & R. Godoy-Diana.
Journal of Fluid Mechanics, 710 : 659-669 (2012).

Abstract: The wake of a flexible foil undergoing pitching oscillations in a low-speed hydrodynamic tunnel is used to examine the effect of chordwise foil flexibility in the dynamical features of flapping-based propulsion. Continue reading “Stabilizing effect of flexibility in the wake of a flapping foil”

Behind the performance of flapping wing flyers

flapping_wingRather than resonance, flapping wing flyers may play on aerodynamics to improve performance
S. Ramananarivo; R. Godoy-Diana & B. Thiria.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (USA), 108 (15): 5964-5969 (2011).

Abstract: Saving energy and enhancing performance are secular preoccupations shared by both nature and human beings. In animal locomotion, flapping flyers or swimmers rely on the flexibility of their wings or body to passively increase their efficiency using an appropriate cycle of storing and releasing elastic energy. Despite the convergence of many observations pointing out this feature, the underlying mechanisms explaining how the elastic nature of the wings is related to propulsive efficiency remain unclear. Here we use an experiment with a self-propelled simplified insect model allowing to show how wing compliance governs the performance of flapping flyers. Continue reading “Behind the performance of flapping wing flyers”

Bending to fly

How wing compliance drives the efficiency of self-propelled flapping flyers
B. Thiria & R. Godoy-Diana.
Physical Review E, 82 : 015303(R) (2010).
*arXiv preprint blogged in MIT Technology Review (March 2, 2010)
*Also referenced in Vir. J. Bio. Phys. Res. / Volume 20 / Issue 3 / (August 1, 2010)


Abstract: Wing flexibility governs the flying performance of flapping-wing flyers. Here, we use a self-propelled flapping-wing model mounted on a ”merry go roun” to investigate the effect of wing compliance on the propulsive efficiency of the system. Continue reading “Bending to fly”

Symmetry breaking of the reverse Bénard-von Kármán vortex street

flap_fluo_BKI_ASYM_smallA model for the symmetry breaking of the reverse Bénard-von Kármán vortex street produced by a flapping foil
R. Godoy-Diana; C. Marais; J. L. Aider & J. E. Wesfreid.
Journal of Fluid Mechanics, 622 : 23-32 (2009).

Abstract: The vortex streets produced by a flapping foil of span-to-chord aspect ratio of 4:1 are studied in a hydrodynamic tunnel experiment. In particular, the mechanisms giving rise to the symmetry breaking of the reverse Bénard-von Kármán vortex street that characterizes fish-like swimming and forward flapping flight are examined. Two-dimensional particle image velocimetry measurements in the mid-plane perpendicular to the span axis of the foil are used to characterize the different flow regimes. Continue reading “Symmetry breaking of the reverse Bénard-von Kármán vortex street”

Transitions in the wake of a flapping foil

transitions_wakeTransitions in the wake of a flapping foil
R. Godoy-Diana; J. L. Aider & J. E. Wesfreid.
Physical Review E, 77 : 016308 (2008).

Abstract: We study experimentally the vortex streets produced by a flapping foil in a hydrodynamic tunnel, using two-dimensional particle image velocimetry. An analysis in terms of a flapping frequency-amplitude phase space allows the identification of (i) the transition from the well-known Bénard-von Kármán (BvK) wake to the reverse BvK vortex street that characterizes propulsive wakes, and (ii) the symmetry breaking of this reverse BvK pattern giving rise to an asymmetric wake. Continue reading “Transitions in the wake of a flapping foil”