NRL Designs Faster, More Energy-Efficient, Unpiloted, Underwater Vehicles

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Source: DVIDS,
Source: DVIDS,

May 11, 2021 | Originally published by U.S. Navy on May 6, 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Nicole Xu, Ph.D., a U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) Postdoctoral Research Associate from the Laboratories for Computational Physics & Fluid Dynamics, designs faster and more energy-efficient underwater vehicles using bioinspired shark skin-like surfaces.

“Shark skin comprises arrays of teeth-like denticle structures, which contribute to fast and stealthy swimming by turbulent drag reduction,” Xu said.  She began her NRL postdoctoral associateship in January 2021.

“Xu has demonstrated extraordinary motivation and initiative, as well as technical expertise in the area of unpiloted systems research,” said Jason Geder, an NRL aerospace engineer who is Xu’s mentor.

Xu’s goal is to test these bioinspired surfaces on hydrofoils in flow channels before implementing the skins onto unpiloted underwater vehicles (UUV), such as the NRL-developed WANDA UUV and other traditional underwater vehicles.

“Because the denticles possess complicated microstructures, I am currently testing 3-D printing capabilities and designing the foils to conduct our initial experiments in a water tunnel,” Xu said.

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