This paper presents a mechanical design, fabrication and test of biomimetic fish robot using the Lightweight Piezocomposite Curved Actuator (LIPCA). We have designed a mechanism for converting actuation of the LIPCA into caudal fin movement. This linkage mechanism consists of rack-pinion system and four-bar linkage. We also have tested four types of caudal fin in order to examine effect of different shape of caudal fin on thrust generation by tail beat.
Subsequently, based on the caudal fin test, four caudal fins which resemble fish caudal fin shapes of ostraciiform, subcarangiform, carangiform and thunniform, respectively, are attached to the posterior part of the robotic fish. The swimming test using 300 Vpp input with 1 Hz to 1.5 Hz frequency was conducted to investigate effect of changing tail beat frequency and shape of caudal fin on the swimming speed of the robotic fish. The maximum swimming speed was reached when the device was operated at its natural swimming frequency. At the natural swimming frequency 1 Hz,
maximum swimming speeds of 1.632 cm/s, 1.776 cm/s, 1.612 cm/s and 1.51 cm/s were reached for ostraciiform-, subcarangiform-, carangiform- and thunniform-like caudal fins, respectively. Strouhal numbers, which are a measure of thrust efficiency, were calculated in order to examine thrust performance of the present biomimetic fish robot. We also approximated the net forward force of the robotic fish using momentum conservation principle.