Research ArticleARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

A robotic Intelligent Towing Tank for learning complex fluid-structure dynamics

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Science Robotics  27 Nov 2019:
Vol. 4, Issue 36, eaay5063
DOI: 10.1126/scirobotics.aay5063

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Abstract

We describe the development of the Intelligent Towing Tank, an automated experimental facility guided by active learning to conduct a sequence of vortex-induced vibration (VIV) experiments, wherein the parameters of each next experiment are selected by minimizing suitable acquisition functions of quantified uncertainties. This constitutes a potential paradigm shift in conducting experimental research, where robots, computers, and humans collaborate to accelerate discovery and to search expeditiously and effectively large parametric spaces that are impracticable with the traditional approach of sequential hypothesis testing and subsequent train-and-error execution. We describe how our research parallels efforts in other fields, providing an orders-of-magnitude reduction in the number of experiments required to explore and map the complex hydrodynamic mechanisms governing the fluid-elastic instabilities and resulting nonlinear VIV responses. We show the effectiveness of the methodology of “explore-and-exploit” in parametric spaces of high dimensions, which are intractable with traditional approaches of systematic parametric variation in experimentation. We envision that this active learning approach to experimental research can be used across disciplines and potentially lead to physical insights and a new generation of models in multi-input/multi-output nonlinear systems.

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