The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) is developing unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) with shark skin-like surfaces that provides better speed and energy efficiency.
The idea was provided by Nicole Xu, Ph.D., a NRL Postdoctoral Research Associate from the Laboratories for Computational Physics & Fluid Dynamics. “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’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, the Navy said in a statement Thursday.
“Because the denticles possess complicated microstructures, I am currently testing 3D printing capabilities and designing the foils to conduct our initial experiments in a water tunnel,” Xu said.