Sparky the Tadpole!

Sparky the Tadpole

An autonomous vortex-shedding swimmer.

Sparky is an exploration of fish swimming patterns, and the actuation and parameters required to optimize them. Ultimately, Sparky is servo-actuated for vortex-shedding, and coded to swim autonomously at amplitude, phase offset, and frequencies optimized for forward velocity.

Final Systems

Sparky is constructed of foam, acrylic, and carbon fiber coating. Foam allowed for flotation and fish-inspired vortex shedding swimming motion, while weighted keels kept everything balanced in water. 3 servo motors directly actuate acrylic spine joints.
IR sensors, mounted on the head, allow for obstacle-avoidance and wall-following. Electronics are housed in the hollowed foam head, waterproofed via heat seal, and protected by a splash-proof cap. A LiPo battery powers the servos, Arduino, and IR sensors. XBees interface with a computer for a manual override.
An Arduino Mega coordinates servo movement, implementing an optimized gait found using genetic algorithims.
The details of our final budget can be found under our "Progression" page.