Experimental Demonstration of the Dynamics and Stability of a Low Reynolds Number Swimmer Near a Plane Wall

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Sebastian Zhang, Yizhar Or, Richard M Murray
American Control Conference (ACC), 2010 (Submitted)

The motion of microorganisms as well as of tiny robotic swimmers for biomedical applications is governed by low Reynolds number (Re) hydrodynamics, where viscous effects dominate and inertial effects are negligible. This paper presents experimental results that verify theoretical predictions of our recent work which analyzed the dynamics and stability of a low-Re swimmer near a plane wall. The experimental setup uses macro-scale swimmer prototypes which are propelled by rotating cylinders in highly viscous silicone oil. The motion was recorded by a video camera and position measurements were taken by an optical tracking system. The results show good qualitative agreement with our recent theoretical predictions.