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Simultaneous Determination of Drag Coefficient and Added Mass
Wai Leung Chan and Taesam Kang
Abstract—The drag coefficient and added mass (hydrodynamic mass) are the essential parameters for the dynamics analysis of submerged objects with mobility such as bio-mimicking fish robots or underwater vehicles. The shape dependence of these parameters makes them difficult to have good theoretical approximations and the parameters should be determined either numerically or experimentally. Different experiments have been proposed to obtain either the drag coefficient or added mass. This paper presents a new method to simultaneously determine the drag coefficient and added mass from a simple and economic experiment and a numerical identification procedure. An experiment was carried out to demonstrate the method and the identification error was studied analytically and numerically for some experimental uncertainties. Index Terms—Added mass, drag coefficient, hydrodynamic mass.

I. INTRODUCTION HE drag coefficient and added mass (hydrodynamic mass or virtual mass) are the essential parameters in the dynamic analysis of submerged objects with mobility such as fish robots or underwater vehicles. The knowledge of these parameters helps engineers to model the dynamics, determine the energy efficiency, improve existing designs, etc. When an object moves in a liquid media with speed , it experiences a drag force and the drag coefficient is defined as (1.1) where is the water density and is the frontal cross-sectional area. If the object is accelerated, the surrounding fluid is also accelerated and the object mass is virtually heavier than it should be. The virtual increase of mass is called the added mass or the hydrodynamic mass . Both the drag coefficient and the added mass are the functions of shape and direction of object motion. In addition, the drag coefficient also depends on the Reynolds number. For simple geometries, the drag coefficient can be found in [1] and [2] and the added mass in [3] and [11], for example. For arbitrary shape objects, literature rarely provides enough information for estimation; the drag coefficient
Manuscript received August 01, 2009; revised March 09, 2011; accepted April 28, 2011. Date of publication June 16, 2011; date of current version July 01, 2011. This work was supported by Konkuk University and the Korea Research Foundation Grant (KRF—J03303). Associate Editor: L. Whitcomb. The authors are with the Department of Aerospace Information Engineering, Konkuk University, Seoul 143-701, Korea (e-mail:; e-mail: Color versions of one or more of the figures in this paper are available online at Digital Object Identifier 10.1109/JOE.2011.2151370


and the added mass must be determined numerically [4], [12] or experimentally in these cases. Different experiments have been designed to determine the drag coefficient of underwater objects. In constant speed method, an object is towed at different constant speeds, by measuring the towing force, and the drag coefficient is determined from the plot of force versus the speed squared (e.g., [6], [7], [13], [15], and [17]). This method requires a motion control unit to pull the object moving at constant speed and force sensor to measure the towing force. In the deceleration method, the motion of a decelerated object is filmed to determine the speed. By plotting the inverse of speed versus time, the drag-coefficient-to-mass ratio (object mass added mass) can be determined from the slope (e.g., [8] and [5]). This method is applicable if the added mass is known or estimated. In the drop tank method, it is possible to exclude the added mass effect when the object is falling, and it reaches the terminal speed in a drop tank apparatus, if the tank is deep enough. In this case, the drag force is balanced by the object weight in water, and the drag coefficient can be obtained from (1.1) (e.g., [9] and [10]). In the free decay, the decaying oscillatory motion of an object in water is recorded and the drag coefficient is determined with a numerical minimization scheme [18]. Compared with drag coefficient measurements, there are relatively fewer reports about the experimental measurements of added mass. For an object that has a plane of symmetry and the plane is perpendicular to the transverse motion, the added mass can be found by comparing the oscillation frequency in air to the frequency in liquid media, with the oscillation along the transverse motion [11]. Obviously, the method is inadequate if the symmetry is broken. Lin [7] and Fernandes [13] measured the force that tows an object at constant acceleration and computed the added mass with the knowledge of drag coefficient. Smallwold [14] used least square method to numerically identify the added mass from experimental data. Rosss [16] and Morrison [18] measured the motion data of an object in free decay tests and determined the added mass with system identification. This paper presents a new method to integrate the determination of the drag coefficient and the added mass of objects with mobility in a liquid media. It is assumed that the drag coefficient is constant over the range of force applied in the experiment. The method involves some experimental measurements followed by a numerical identification procedure. The principle of the experiments is to obtain the displacement-time relationship of an underwater object and to compare it with a dynamic model. The experimental setups for data acquisition are simple and economic to be constructed, as they do not require expensive instruments such as high-speed camera or force sensor, but a

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In all setups. which is within the object swimming or propulsion capability. External weights are employed for towing and hence a pulley system is required to transmit the force in an appropriate direction. which are similar to the drop tank method. 2. For large objects. the displacement time data of a motion trajectory can be obtained for the numerical identification. Fig.2) Assuming that the object’s terminal speed is larger than 0. should be adjusted so that floating is prohibited and the body axis aligns with the vertical direction for motion. The external weight is held fixed until water is calm and the data acquisition is started. Similar to the horizontal setup. Orientation and buoyancy adjustments on the object are required so that the object can immerse at a constant depth below the water surface and yield a stable horizontal motion upon external pulling. low-cost optical encoder and electronics for timing. Experiments are carried out in a water tank or a pool. an object is connected to an external weight through a pulley system.5 body and the drag coefficient is 0.1) For most fish robot or underwater vehicle designs. Experimental Setups Fig. The object will cruise straight downward in D-vertical setup or upward in U-vertical setup when the external weight is released. an optical encoder is mounted to a pulley.e. 1 shows the horizontal setup. and mass mated as . i. 2 shows the vertical setups. B. the accuracy of results (drag coefficient and added mass) highly depends on the timing precision and thus. The object. Three experimental setups are introduced depending on the availability of facilities. II. The weight should be selected so that the string force acting on the object yields the terminal speed. thus (2. which makes it feasible for most of the laboratories. It will be shown that timing accuracy can seriously affect the identification. a boxfish robot was employed to demonstrate the experimental method. D-vertical (left) and U-vertical (right) setups.5. (2. which is carried out in a water pool. In addition to the theoretical explanation.3) If the pool or the tank in the experiment is large enough such that the object can move at the terminal speed. The principle of the experiment is to record the displacement-time data of an immersed object.. and therefore.CHAN AND KANG: SIMULTANEOUS DETERMINATION OF DRAG COEFFICIENT AND ADDED MASS 423 Fig. is held fixed until water is calm and the data acquisition is started. where is the terminal body length speed. 1. the setup can be carried out indoor with limited pool or tank size. The experimental setup is economic and compact. if a small-scaled model is applied.125 mL (2. the string force should balance the drag force. An object is connected to an external weight of mass with a string routed through a pulley system. The object weight distribution Fig. The identification procedure does not require the objects to reach the terminal speed. The string will pull the object to cruise straight toward the bottom pulley due to the falling of the external weight. The setups can be classified as D-vertical and U-vertical for the object moving downward and upward. By timing the events of encoder signal detection. THEORETICAL BACKGROUND The experiment presented in this paper for the drag coefficient and the added mass determination is suitable for small-scale submerged objects. which is towed by a known external force. A. External Weight Selection The function of the external weight is to pull the object for motion with a known external force. high data sampling rate is recommended. it is still possible to determine the parameters. the mass can be approxidensity is close to that of water. and hence the external weight. The data are then compared with a theoretical model. length per second then drag force is approximated as 0.4) . The accuracy of the numerical identification for some experimental uncertainties was studied analytically and numerically. respectively. drag force acting on the object should be (2. As will be shown in Section V. Horizontal setup. If the object of length can travel at a terminal speed .

In D-vertical setup. One should note that there will be different values of determined from (2.10) is the added mass and is the inertia contribution Term from the pulley system. The substitution of in (2. the solutions for the displacement and speed are (2. Equation of Motion and Solution It is assumed that the air drag on the external weight is negligible.125 mL for horizontal D-vertical U-vertical (2.17) and these two expressions will be more useful than (2. 3. Therefore. the string force can be expressed as horizontal D-vertical U-vertical (2.12) (2. the total pulley friction is constant. Once the minimum or maximum external weight of a setup is available. With the definition of the quantity . called additional weights.12) and (2.18) yields (2. either object mass or buoyancy should be adjusted so that is a positive quantity. the string is inelastic. and hence the value of . It is necessary to have several different motion trajectories by using different external weights. assuming that the string mass is negligible and the total pulley friction is constant. Testing must be carried out to check whether the pulley friction is significant and to make the fine adjustment of the weight.21) The expression of external weight in (2. VOL.9) for horizontal D-vertical U-vertical (2. from (2. Since the linear equation is a function of the additional weight different motion trajectories (due to different ) are required in the identification procedure. JULY 2011 From the setups in Figs.8) where (2.4) as 0.14) and (2. Due to the existence of pulley friction.125 mL 0. a single motion trajectory is not enough to determine both the drag coefficient and the added mass from the second-order Newtonian equation of motion.17) and using the definitions of and in (2. and with are three distinct displacement-time points within a motion trajectory. 1 and 2. The equation of motion can be written in the form (2. Numerical Identification Procedure The numerical identification procedure utilizes models (2. the corresponding value of can be computed. the linear equation can be obtained by taking the square of in (2. the external weight can be expressed as for horizontal D-vertical U-vertical (2. which can be expressed as (2.13) (2.3) and (2.6) (2. and its mass is negligible for the experimental setups as shown in Figs.14) (2. Experimental data are substituted into these two equations to extract useful information for the determination of drag coefficient .16) into (2.6) is just an estimate to find the required minimum or maximum external weight.5) is the shortest distance where is the rotational inertia and between the string and the center of the th pulley.125 mL 0.14)–(2.5) into (2. Therefore.8) with the initial conditions .424 IEEE JOURNAL OF OCEANIC ENGINEERING. D.16) (2. in an experimental motion trajectory.19) Nonlinear equation (2.15) as (2.13). C. Solving (2. 1 and 2. 36.7) where .18) where . added mass .19) indicates that can be solved by Newton’s method with the knowledge of other parameters in the equation. by picking three different displacement points . time and speed written as the explicit functions of displacement as can be for where is the buoyancy of the object. NO.20) (2.19) for different additional weights . are some positive weights leading to different motion trajectories.13) in the numerical identification. and pulley friction . The nonlinear equation is obtained by considering the following quantity: (2.17) to generate two equations.12) and (2. the minimum/maximum external weight in the experiment can be obtained by substituting (2.11) . one equation is nonlinear while the other equation is linear.15) Note that. if the pulley friction is negligible.

0.14) and the pulley friction from the -intercept in (2. were used and 80 data were recorded in all motion trajectories. and friction are obtained. From the slope. and the displacement can be represented by integer . 5.20) and the corresponding speed was determined using linear regression with the nearest six points. the value of can be computed through (2. The horizontal setup with an encoder circuit attached to a pulley. 7 plots versus according to (2. Table I lists the information of the setup. In each motion trajectory. Once the values of . the configuration of the encoder plate is illustrated in Fig. The boxfish weight was adjusted so that it could stay at a constant depth of 3 cm below the water surface.20). the time data will suffer an offset. has a linear relationship with . and 32. -intercept. and with . IV.20) can be computed with the value of determined from nonlinear equation (2. the time offset due to the initial displacement is (2. the discrete displacement data are (3. the added mass. and expressions (2. 10. In this experiment. 59. 4. is positioned initially at . RESULTS The experimental data (down-sampled discrete points) for the displacement versus time are plotted in Fig.20) suggests that. speed can be computed by the linear regression of some nearest experimental displacement-time points.14) for different motion trajectories (i. 10 g and 0.21). To compute the values of in linear equation (2. 4.13 cm was selected as the displacement point in linear equation (2.24) Note that.64 cm . the added mass.24). 19. fitting curves for the displacement-time relationships are computed . i.. From the plot of versus . From these values.15). The ostraciiform fish robot.CHAN AND KANG: SIMULTANEOUS DETERMINATION OF DRAG COEFFICIENT AND ADDED MASS 425 Linear equation (2.12). due to measurement uncertainty and external disturbance.08 cm 42. When the external weight falls. 6 for different external weights. three distinct displacement-time points in a motion trajectory are required for numerical identification. With the knowledge of the encoder resolution and radius. as shown in Fig. If the first slit of the encoder. the identification procedure can also account for the timing offset in measurement due to the initial displacement. As is shown in Section II-D. Seven external weights of 10–40 g with a step of 5 g. The experiment was carried out in a circular inflatable pool with the diameter of 1.19).7854 cm is the distance interval traveled by the string between two consecutive signal detections. the string will bring the pulley and hence the encoder plate to rotate. and the initial displacement is the displacement of the object before the first signal detection.22) Fig. if a fixed displacement point is selected for all experimental motion trajectories (due to different ). the added mass from (2.8 mN respectively.16). the determined drag coefficient.. EXPERIMENTS A robotic boxfish. different motion trajectory may yield different value of the added mass. was employed to demonstrate the drag coefficient and added mass determination using the horizontal setup as shown in Fig. 5.35 cm were chosen to compute using (2. 30 g. III. and 58. (2.19) in every motion trajectory. 3. which should be accounted for the verification of model (2.25) Therefore. and the pulley friction are 0. With (2.70 g. Three displacement points.20).5 m and the depth of 25 cm. where is the number of signal detections since the beginning of motion.23) for horizontal D-vertical U-vertical (2.e. . the drag coefficient. The added mass determined from the numerical identification procedure in this paper is the average value of the added mass obtained from (2.1) Fig. An optical encoder circuit was mounted to a pulley in the setup and recorded motion as shown in Fig. different ). such that . Light sensor is triggered when a slit passes through the horizontal dotted line and a microcontroller will record the time of the event.e. the drag coefficient can be determined from slope in (2.21) as (2. and the values of in (2. 3. which is to invoke the first encoder signal. 619 g. Fig. 1.22)–(2.

Analytical Calculation of Errors To study the effects of initial displacement uncertainty and time precision error analytically. 7.3) DISPLACEMENT UNCERTAINTY TIME PRECISION ERROR In the experiment. From the definition of in (2.12) and plotted in Fig. For a timer with time unit . VOL.19) and of in (2. respectively. precision error . is defined as (5. the first-order change in . 36. Configuration of an encoder plate before the start of a motion trajectory. The time precision error first leads the error of . Besides the displacement uncertainty.18).18).2) to is the time precision where error on the actual time data due to the measurement. A.12) for different external weights using model (2. The initial displacement uncertainty affects both values of in (2. the initial displacement is not the same and there exists an initial displacement uncertainty in every motion trajectory. 3. 6.426 IEEE JOURNAL OF OCEANIC ENGINEERING.35 cm. the error of results is computed by the first-order error approximation.20) directly. 6. we have Fig. while the time precision error leads to the speed error and the uncertainty of through the error of defined in (2. Experimental data (discrete points) and the curve fitting (solid lines) . TABLE I INFORMATION FOR THE HORIZONTAL SETUP Fig. for example. denoted . V. The error of will finally affect the calculation of the drag coefficient and the added mass. It can be seen that the experimental data agree well with the model. Therefore. the timing precision will also affect the results as determined in . the numerical procedure. the precision errors in the time data are always less than 1 ms for the experiment in Section III. the starting time will be different for every motion trajectory and hence. due to the time precision error is bounded by (5. NO. JULY 2011 Fig. If the timing device starts before the motion trajectory.1) where and are the experimental time measured (with finite precision) and the actual time (with infinite precision). the time precision error will be different even though two motion trajectories have the same experimental parameters. EFFECTS OF INITIAL AND (5. Therefore. 5. versus at 58. using model (2. the magnitude of which is always less than a timing unit .

3). Every computational experiment (for each setup) simulates seven motion trajectories. In each simulated motion trajectory. these displacement points should be chosen carefully to reduce the error of the drag coefficient and the added mass in the numerical identification.14) and (2.33 cm (i. numerical simulations were executed to compute the error range of the results.6). the maximum percentage error of the drag coefficient is always less than that of the added mass. points and cannot be too close since is close to 1 and leads to a singularity problem of solving (2. Since the timer is running before the (5. As . Table II lists the parameters that simulate the experiment in Section III. the error of due to the first two terms is reduced when a larger value of is applied.74 N.5) where TABLE II SIMULATION PARAMETERS (5.16) with the substitution of from (5. 80 data of theoretical displacement and time are first generated using (5. and the time precision error will finally contribute to the calculation error of in (2.5) and (5. hence. which use different external weights ( 10–40 g with a step of 5 g). Numerical Simulations The initial displacement uncertainty and time precision error can affect the results as seen in the previous first-order error calculations. and the pulley friction is 33 mN.23 cm) and is different for every simulated trajectory. the same parameters are also applied in the D-vertical and U-vertical simulations with the buoyancy of 1096 g 10. results in the error of upon solving (2.7).22) and the added mass from (2.4) The error of .e. and time data use model (2. the added mass is 620 g.CHAN AND KANG: SIMULTANEOUS DETERMINATION OF DRAG COEFFICIENT AND ADDED MASS 427 where (5. On the other hand.20) is can be seen from (5.. The value of in (2.8) Therefore. average 0. Therefore. B. From (5.20) should be evaluated at a larger displacement point to reduce the calculation error. Point should be large enough to reduce the percentage error of the displacement due to .19).19).7) is the speed error generated in the linear regression where due to the truncation of time data. with a larger factor of .13 and 0. respectively.15). In addition to the horizontal setup. Initial displacement is assumed to be a uniformly distributed random number between 0.12) where values of and are calculated from (2. quantity and hence the error of will diverge as close to zero. With the error of for each motion trajectory due to different . Taking the first-order approximation of (2. the initial displacement uncertainty. computed by linear regression. From (5.9) (5.20) as follows: (5. the least square error of slope in (2.19).11) (5. Given three displacement points .23) are (5.11) into . The acceleration is also smaller in this situation.7.6) The error of . and with .10) The error of the drag coefficient is proportional to the ac. points and should be chosen at a large distance from point to increase the denominators and and reduce the error in . the error of speed. together with the initial displacement uncertainty. the error of can be approximated as (5. To find the reliability of the experimental results as computed in Section IV with respect to this uncertainty and measurement error. the first-order changes in the drag coefficient from (2. can be reduced. while tual value of the drag coefficient with a factor the error of the added mass is approximately proportional to the quantity . It is assumed that the drag coefficient is 0.

). . TIMING UNIT 10 ms TABLE IV CONFIDENCE LEVELS OF COMPUTATIONAL RESULTS WITHIN SOME SPECIFIC RANGE OF ERRORS.15) The confidence intervals of the results are summarized in Table V. i. However.13) (5.14) where denotes the flooring of to an integer.17) For each external weight. the drag coefficient and the added mass in every computational experiment are computed using the numerical identification as described in Section II-D. TIMING UNIT 1 ms TABLE V CONFIDENCE LEVELS OF COMPUTATIONAL RESULTS WITHIN SOME SPECIFIC RANGE OF ERRORS. which is a uniformly distributed random number between 0 and 1 s. two computational experiments were repeated using the parameters in Table II.22) and (2.0% of the theoretical values ( and 620 g) respectively. Due to the existence of the initial displacement . then (5. the initial displacement uncertainty has small effects on the error of the results. computational experiments. The added mass errors are larger for the same confidence interval compared with the drag coefficient. Table III summarizes the simulation results of 10 000 computational experiments. PERFECT TIMING start of a motion trajectory. If the timing unit is changed to 10 ms. The nonlinear least square curve fitting is an option to find the values of and simultaneously. nonlinear function (5. D. Table IV lists the confidence levels of the results. NO. all the errors are less than 10% of the theoretical values. This means that the determined drag coefficient is always more reliable that the added mass. From these generated experimental data and . Precision of Time Data To see the effect of time precision error. 3. due to the initial displacement uncertainty and time precision error.16) and nonlinear function can be written as (5. except the timing accuracy.33 cm with average 0. and the drag coefficient and the added mass are calculated using (2. Hence (5. the error ranges of both the drag coefficient and the added mass are increased for a given confidence interval. the values of and are then substituted into (2.16) should be modified as (5. the percentage errors of the drag coefficient and the added mass are less than 2. with the poor timing accuracy (larger precision error) compared to the cases in Table III. which is agreed with conclusion drawn in (5.428 IEEE JOURNAL OF OCEANIC ENGINEERING.5% of the theoretical value in all setups.23 cm for all trajectories and the timing unit 1 ms. From the simulation results. was carried out with the same parameters used in Table II. To compare the numerical identification presented in this paper and the nonlinear least square method. The percentage error of the drag coefficient is within 10% of the theoretical value with 95% confidence interval. For the case of the perfect timing (no truncation error. it is assumed that initial displacement is distributed uniformly between 0.9) and (5. To generate experimental displacement and time .17) together with the generated experimental data are applied in the nonlinear least square method to find the values of and .e. nevertheless.10). but at a starting time . the time is not equal to zero when the experiment starts. it can be claimed that. Comparing the results with Table III. model (2. It can be seen that the drag coefficient errors are almost less than 2. with 99% confidence interval. using Matlab nonlinear least square curve fitting function lsqcurvefit for finding of and .. 36.20) to plot versus .23). while the added mass is no longer reliable. Similar to the identification procedure presented in this paper. JULY 2011 TABLE III CONFIDENCE LEVELS OF COMPUTATIONAL RESULTS WITHIN SOME SPECIFIC RANGE OF ERRORS. C. VOL.25). and noting that the time offset can be computed by (2.5% and 5. Note that the confidence interval of the drag coefficient within a specific range of error is always larger than that of the added mass. Nonlinear Least Square Curve Fitting The numerical identification presented in Section II-D is designed for the experiments in this paper specifically. this method is no longer reliable when the initial displacement uncertainty exists.13 and 0. It can be seen that.

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After graduating from his Ph. Korea.S. vol. and applications for aerospace.S. Yoerger. NO.S. 277–282. 36.” Proc. and energy harvesting under- water vehicle.D.430 IEEE JOURNAL OF OCEANIC ENGINEERING. Aage and S. in 2002 and 2005. M. Today’s Technol. “Determination of the hydrodynamic parameters of an underwater vehicle during small scale.D. [18] A. Oceans Eng. JULY 2011 [17] C. Morrison and D. from 1994 to 2001. Hong Kong. control. and Ph. Seoul National University. Korea. program. Taesam Kang received the B. VOL. La Jolla. Wai Leung Chan received the B. Seoul. Seoul. His Ph. R. IEEE/MTS OCEANS Conf. He is currently working as a Researcher in the Department of Aerospace Information Engineering. 1-dimensional translation. respectively. control theory. respectively. Since September 2001.Sc. degrees from the University of California San Diego.. Konkuk University. . Oct. and ground systems. Korea. Konkuk University. 1988. swimming study. pp. in 1986. Wagner.D. Korea. He was an Associate Professor at Hoseo University. 3.. and Ph. and his research includes bio-mimicking robots. 425–430. in 1997 and the M. Asan. and experiments on autonomous fish robots.D.. CA. and experimental study of the deployable structures called tensegrity. L. 1993. 3. 18–21. marine. T. pp. Sep. and 1992. research was about the minimal mass design. Tomorrow’s Preservation. 13–16. “Hydrodynamic manoeuvrability data of a flatfish type AUV.” Proc. degree in physics from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. nonuniform. Seoul. he was a Systems Engineer in an engineering company in San Diego. degrees from the Department of Control and Instrumentation Engineering. The projects involved the deployment and vibration isolation of a space antenna. His research area includes sensor design and signal processing. 1994. he has been teaching control system design and its applications as a faculty member in the Department of Aerospace Information Engineering.