Better Boats and Autonomous Vehicles with Tuna's Hydraulic System

Khryss | Published 2017-07-30 01:17

That delicious Pacific bluefin tuna in your plate have much more use than filling your grumbling stomach.

Pacific bluefin tuna, ocean's tasty citizen, can weigh 300 pounds but swims at 40 mph. Their secret? A fine hydraulic system.

Researchers from Stanford and the Monterey Bay Aquarium found that while these big fishes are known to be stiff swimmers, they actually have a unique hydraulic system that enables them to move in the ocean with speed and precision.

While keenly observing the fish move, they noticed an odd cavity filled with liquid on the fish's dorsal and anal median fins. "So really what you're looking at is a hydrodynamic mechanism that when you pressurize this cavity, it creates this change of shape to the fin, you're giving the animal a turning moment," Barbara Block, a professor of biology at Stanford University and author of the study said.

This very functional hydraulics actually utilizes the fish's skeletal muscles, fin bones, and vessels in aiding the expansion and retraction of its fins. Hence the precise slicing of the ocean as the move to long distances or hunt their food.

"They're capable of catching prey that is quite small, like a sardine or a mackerel, who are highly mobile," Block told Motherboard. Moreover, finding out about its aerodynamic body shape not only enables us to understand better about an organism but helps us improve our very own boats and autonomous vehicles as well.

"We've got a lot of vehicles being designed for the sea. Some even look like tuna, but it's interesting that we're just realizing that they're using this really advanced bio-hydraulics to change the lift surface that changes the turning," Block said. "That would be something that would be very easy to implement in both autonomous vehicles and sailing boats' air design."

Well, nature's really more than just for human consumption--or is it?

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