At the millimeter scale and in the intermediate Reynolds number (Re) regime, the midge and mosquito larvae can reach swimming speeds of more than one body length per cycle performing a “figure eight” gait, in which their elongated bodies periodically bend nearly into circles and then fully unfold. To elucidate the propulsion mechanism of this cycle of motion, we conducted a three-dimensional (3D) numerical study, which investigates the hydrodynamics of undergoing the prescribed kinematics. We found novel propulsion mechanisms, such as modulating the body deformation rate to dynamically increase the maximum net propulsion force, using asymmetric kinematics to generate torque and the appropriate rotation, and controlling the radius of the curled body to manipulate the moment of inertia. The figure eight gait is found to achieve propulsion at a wide range of Re but is most effective at intermediate Re. The results were further validated experimentally, via the development of a soft millimeter-sized robot that can reach comparable speeds using the figure eight gait.
Swimming of the midge larva: Principles and tricks of locomotion at intermediate Reynolds number
Bowen Jin, Chengfeng Pan, Neng Xia, Jialei Song, Haoxiang Luo, Li Zhang, Yang Ding; Swimming of the midge larva: Principles and tricks of locomotion at intermediate Reynolds number. Physics of Fluids 1 March 2023; 35 (3): 031903. https://doi.org/10.1063/5.0137841
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