Articulated Swimming Creatures

Jie Tan, Yuting Gu, Greg Turk, and C. Karen Liu


We present a general approach to creating realistic swimming behavior for a given articulated creature body. The two main components of our method are creature/fluid simulation and the optimization of the creature motion parameters. We simulate two-way coupling between the fluid and the articulated body by solving a linear system that matches acceleration at fluid/solid boundaries and that also enforces fluid incompressibility. The swimming motion of a given creature is described as a set of periodic functions, one for each joint degree of freedom. We optimize over the space of these functions in order to find a motion that causes the creature to swim straight and stay within a given energy budget. Our creatures can perform path following by first training appropriate turning maneuvers through offline optimization and then selecting between these motions to track the given path. We present results for a clownfish, an eel, a sea turtle, a manta ray and a frog, and in each case the resulting motion is a good match to the real-world animals. We also demonstrate a plausible swimming gait for a fictional creature that has no real-world counterpart.

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We thank Ron Hutchins, Neil Bright and the Georgia Tech Office of Information Technology for providing us with computing cluster resources. We are also grateful for an equipment donation from NVIDIA. This work was funded by NSF grants CCF-0811485 and IIS-1017014.