Watch an aircraft-inspecting robot climb and inspect a Boeing 737
Every aircraft that is inspected for safety is done by authorized personnel who are well trained for the task. Although it is a source of income to many, it is also quite time consuming, costly and not as reliable. A fuselage-climbing robot has now been invented that can carry out the same job much more efficiently.
Five European Research groups have come together to form the Vortex Robot which operates on four wheels. The robot will be able to move around an airplane with the help of integrated sensors in the form of thermal cameras and ultrasound units that can detect an issue. In rare cases those problems can also be fixed using a drill or a laser or multiple other tools.
Airline Boeing 737 was used to test the prototype by a team from Sweden’s Lulea University of Technology at Britain’s Cranfield University. The Vortex Robot attached itself to any part of the plane’s surface including curves and inclinations using an air suction system. It could even maneuver between the areas where the wing of the plane meets the fuselage.
“Our vision is multi-robot inspection and repair of aircrafts,” says Luleå’s Georgios Andrikopoulos, technical leader of the project. “Imagine if we could send up multiple robots and let them work collaboratively, both time and money could be saved while potentially improving safety in the aerospace industry.”