Brown Researchers Awarded $6.5M from ONR for the Mechanics of Undersea Vehicles and Platforms Research

Brown Engineering faculty were awarded a combined $6.5 million of grant funding from the Office of Naval Research (ONR) to carry out research in the general area of undersea vehicles and platforms, in collaboration with the Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) in Newport, R.I. The funding will be distributed in a trio of grants for a duration of three years to principal investigators Yuri Bazilevs, Kenny Breuer and Pradeep Guduru, with professors Dan Harris and Vikas Srivastava serving as the area leads and co-investigators within the individual grants.

“The ONR research funding will help establish Brown Engineering at the forefront of undersea mechanics research, and firmly embed it in a major ongoing Department of Defense R&D effort in this area,” said Larry Larson, Sorensen Family Dean of Engineering.

The research effort addresses three specific areas: predictive modeling of undersea vehicles and platforms, bio-inspired science and engineering for naval applications, and undersea vehicle science and technologies.  

Leveraging recent advances in computational mechanics of solids, structures, fluids, and fluid-structure interaction, Bazilevs, Guduru, Srivastava, and Harris will focus on developing advanced modeling and simulation methods and tools for this class of applications. The topic areas include multiscale modeling of fiber-reinforced polymer composite materials and structures tailored to undersea vehicles; high-fidelity modeling of fluid-structure interaction during underwater explosions;  and modeling for design and control of autonomous vehicles near air-water interfaces. Harris will be the lead investigator for the autonomous vehicles area.

Breuer and Harris will study how phenomena observed in biological systems can be understood, modelled and adapted for naval applications, including the mechanics of vortex-induced vibrations experienced by seal vibrissae (whiskers), and how this can be used for improving the performance of sensor arrays and long towed array sensor lines; understanding flapping, flexible fin propulsion for both primary and maneuvering in unsteady environments; and using diving birds as inspiration for high-speed air-to-water entry. 

Guduru, Srivastava, and Bazilevs will focus on a basic research effort that can help undersea vehicles become lighter and more maneuverable and resist failure under extreme environments and loading scenarios where they are expected to operate. This effort will consist of three interdisciplinary and collaborative research efforts that synergistically combine experimentation, theory and computation including multifunctional structural batteries, materials and structures for extreme environments, and multi-metal additive manufacturing. Srivastava will be the lead investigator for the materials and structures for extreme environments area.