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Rolls Royce using cockroach robots

by on18 July 2018

The only problem is they scuttle away when the light is switched on

Rolls-Royce is developing tiny “cockroach” robots that can crawl inside aircraft engines to spot and fix problems.

The miniature technology can improve the way maintenance is carried out by speeding up inspections and eliminating the need to remove an engine from an aircraft for repair work to take place.

Rolls-Royce technology specialist James Kell said: "They could go off scuttling around reaching all different parts of the combustion chamber."

Speaking at the Farnborough International Airshow in England, Kell added that the robots could save engineers a lot of time.

“If we did it conventionally it would take us five hours; with these little robots, who knows, it might take five minutes”, he added.

Rolls-Royce has teamed up with robotics experts at Harvard University in the U.S. and the University of Nottingham and the idea was developed from existing "robot bugs."

The next step is to mount cameras on the robots and scale them down to a 15-millimeter size. De Rivaz said that once the robots had performed their duty they could be programmed to leave the engine or could simply be “flushed out” by the engine itself.

Also under development are “snake” robots that are flexible enough to travel through an engine like an endoscope. These would enter through a combustion chamber and would inspect the damage and remove any debris. The second “snake” would deposit a patch repair that would sit temporarily until the engine was ready for full repair.

No schedule is placed on when the crawling robots will be available, but already in development is a “remote bore blending robot” to fix damage to compressor blades in the engine that Rolls-Royce said engineers should be using within two years.


Last modified on 18 July 2018
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