Rolls-Royce is developing robotic cockroach that can fix plane engines
Rolls-Royce, a company that is famous for its luxurious automobiles and airplane engines, is now developing cockroach-like robots that can crawl within the tight confines of an aircraft engine to spot potential abnormality and perform routine maintenance.
The engine of an airplane is one of the complex machines with tight space which makes it hard-to-reach places and keeping them working consumes much time and effort. The company teamed up with the University of Nottingham and Harvard University under its Intelligent Engine project. A venture announced earlier in the year aimed at carrying out inspections, which could reduce the chance to remove an entire engine from the aircraft.
These cockroach-like “Swarm” robots would stand about 15 millimeters tall and weigh around 1.4grams. These robots would be armed with small cameras, providing a live feed to engineers who can carry out visual inspections much more precisely. Once after analyzing the problem, these robot roaches will retool to perform the desired fix.
According to Roll-Royce representative Dr. James Kell (On-Wing technology specialist):
They could go off scuttling around reaching all different parts of the combustion chamber. If we did it conventionally it would take us five hours; with these little robots, who knows, it might take five minutes.
Another is Flare, a robot that is designed in the shape of a snake that can travel through the engine environment like an endoscope, patching up the damaged thermal barrier coating with the help of the other flares. These flares also have another important function of spitting the Swarm robots in the center of the engine.
Dr. James Kell also said:
we have a great network of partners who support our work in this field and it is clear that this is an area with the potential to revolutionise how we think about engine maintenance.