US Naval Research Laboratory to test shark skin-like, low-drag surfaces on UUVs

MARITIME SECURITY WEEK
A WANDA UUV of the US Naval Research Laboratory undergoing testing (Photo: US Navy)

A postdoctoral research associate with the US Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) has proposed equipping some of the US Navy’s unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) with bio-inspired, shark skin-like surfaces to make them faster and more efficient.

Nicole Xu, PhD, a postdoctoral research associate from the NRL’s Laboratories for Computational Physics and Fluid Dynamics, said the arrays of teeth-like denticle structures found on sharks’ skins contribute to fast and stealthy swimming by reducing turbulent drag. Xu’s goal is to test these bio-inspired surfaces on hydrofoils in flow channels before implementing the skins onto existing vehicles such as the NRL’s Wrasse-inspired Agile Near-shore Deformable-fin Automaton (WANDA) UUV.

Xu said that, because the denticles possess complicated microstructures, she is currently testing 3D printing capabilities and designing the foils to conduct initial experiments in a water tunnel.

See all the other news, reviews and features of this month’s Maritime Security Week right here.


Baird Maritime

The best maritime site on the web. The sea's our scene!