Turtles, dolphins, and seals are masters at maneuvering in the water. So it’s no surprise that Stephen Licht, then a graduate student in the MIT/WHOI Joint Program, looked to them for inspiration on how to make the next generation of autonomous underwater vehicles more maneuverable. The result is an underwater vehicle called Finnegan, which has “flippers” (flapping foils). While it can’t turn as fast or deftly as a seal, it is more maneuverable than vehicles that use conventional screw propellers for propulsion.
(Illustration by Jack Cook, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)