Mini Robots Take Over Engine Maintenance
SWARM Robots – getting around the engine on four legs
Using a kind of endoscope, the small, collaborative robot will then be “released” inside the engine and carry out visual examinations with a camera in places that are difficult to access. The mini robot will find its way through the drive system autonomously, i.e. without being controlled by a mechanic. It transmits the video images live “to the outside”, where they are then evaluated by experts. The chassis is made of plastic that is reinforced with carbon fiber.
Sébastien de Rivaz, Research Fellow at the Wyss Institute at Harvard University
INSPECT Robots – continuous self checks
FLARE – inspection plus repair
Remote Boreblending – remote control blade repair
On one condition: A team on site installs a robot and then hands over the remote control to the experts. The robot scans the surface of the blades, inspects them for damage and transmits the images to the experts via a secure data link. Using a high-speed air spindle and a grinding attachment, the repair can then be carried out remotely, for example by the Rolls-Royce Aircraft Availability Centre.
Dr James Kell, On-Wing Technology Specialist at the engine manufacturer, thinks the research on remote boreblending is already well advanced: “While the SWARM robot technology is far from being part of everyday reality, we have already tested the remote boreblending robot extensively and will be able to introduce it in the next few years.”
In addition to the universities of Nottingham and Harvard, Kell relies on a whole range of other partners for robotics research. The Rolls-Royce network includes a total of 31 University Technology Centres (UTCs) in research institutes around the world, each UTC dealing with a specific key technology.
Text by Behrend Oldenburg