When it comes to maintaining airplane engines, Rolls-Royce is thinking small.
As part of the company’s IntelligentEngine project, Rolls-Royce showed off a handful of small robots that could help inspect and repair airplane engines in the future. Although still under development with researchers from the University of Nottingham and Harvard University, these cockroach-sized robot concepts show promise.
Flare, a snake-like robot, would wind through the engine similar to an endoscope and when paired with other Flares would be able to patch damaged thermal barrier coatings.
The Swarm robots, smaller than a cockroach, would be deployed inside the engine. Equipped with cameras, the robots would carry out visual inspections of the equipment and stream video back to an operator.
Periscope-like Inspect robots would be permanently built into the engines and be able to relay relevant data on the engine’s functions to the operations center.
While the use of the other robots might still be in the distant future, Rolls-Royce is already testing one. The robotic boreblending robots would allow engineers to carry out specialized tasks, such as grinding replacement parts, remotely.
All these robots are designed to speed up engine maintenance while cutting costs.