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Rolls-Royce turns to robotic insects and snakes for future aircraft maintenance

By midian182 · 12 replies
Jul 19, 2018
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  1. As part of its IntelligentEngine vision, the British engineering firm, which is separate from the luxury car company, teamed up with the University of Nottingham and Harvard University for the project.

    The plan is for miniature Swarm robots, which measure around 10mm diameter, to be deposited into the center of a plane's engine while it’s still on the aircraft's wing. They will carry a camera and a 3D scanner that allow operators to inspect the engine and look for any problems via a live feed. The robots’ small size mean they would be able to access hard-to-reach areas without needing to remove the engine from a craft.

    The Swarm robots will be placed in their starting locations using FLARE—a pair of ‘snake’ robots that are flexible enough to travel through an engine, much like an endoscope. These are also able to carry out engine inspections and repairs.

    Rolls-Royce also unveiled plans for the Inspect robots—a network of pencil-sized machines that remain inside an engine permanently. Thermally protected from the extreme heat, they could be used to monitor an engine’s health.

    “There’s lots of things that aren’t ready yet, there’s more work to do yet to get this more mature,” said James Kell, on-wing technology specialist at Rolls. Getting the cockroach-like Swarm robots back out of the engine is one issue that still needs to be addressed.

    “The aim is to service engines within hours rather than days,” Kell added.

    Rolls-Royce announced its plans at the Farnborough Airshow, the same event where Aston Martin revealed its flying vehicle concept, which was designed in collaboration with the engine company.

    Permalink to story.

  2. VitalyT

    VitalyT Russ-Puss Posts: 4,298   +2,762

    Qualified repair people will appreciate it, losing their jobs to a bunch of cockroaches.

    P.S. Where's the spirit of ecstasy on those things?
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2018
  3. Thannos

    Thannos TS Booster Posts: 31   +17

    So when can we expect the first Astromech droid? I want a real R2-D2.
  4. mbrowne5061

    mbrowne5061 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,141   +609

    They're inspecting, not repairing. You'll still need to disassemble the engine to do maintenance and repairs.
    wiyosaya likes this.
  5. Boilerhog146

    Boilerhog146 TS Evangelist Posts: 620   +217

    did you read the relatively short article ?.they will carry out inspections and REPAIRS...
  6. Reachable

    Reachable TS Evangelist Posts: 363   +173

    This is awesome!
  7. toooooot

    toooooot TS Evangelist Posts: 691   +331

    I already know another use for these, but I wont tell you because it might not be appropriate. Well, lets just say these robots might be able repair humans. And lets just say those tubes can be used to let robots inside the humans. But I wont tell how exactly and where because this might not be appropriate.
    vincentyu likes this.
  8. treetops

    treetops TS Evangelist Posts: 2,399   +431

    Maybe we should all use 1 hand to create more jobs?....
  9. MannerMauler

    MannerMauler TS Addict Posts: 206   +53

    It looks like these things can only do minor repairs. I doubt they can do anything big that actually requires them to take the engine apart.
    mbrowne5061 likes this.
  10. ikesmasher

    ikesmasher TS Evangelist Posts: 3,050   +1,384

    unsurprisingly, there will be a large quantity of repairs that pieces of plastic with suction cups on them will be unable to perform.
    mbrowne5061 likes this.
  11. Reachable

    Reachable TS Evangelist Posts: 363   +173

    I want one of those bugs. They're adorable.
  12. Boilerhog146

    Boilerhog146 TS Evangelist Posts: 620   +217

    At least they will know if they have to take the Engine apart before they actually take the Engine apart,
  13. manxman

    manxman TS Rookie

    If they get trapped inside the engine, they have to send in search and rescue bots with a magnetic stretcher. Aww cute.
    herbalfire likes this.

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