Robotics could be used to revolutionise the future of engine maintenance. Bringing another element of our Intelligent Engine vision to life.
Supercharged by digital technology, the lines between products and services are blurring, offering us a wealth of opportunities to improve what it offers its customers. In addition to designing, testing and maintaining engines in the digital realm, the Intelligent Engine vision sets out a future in which an engine will be increasingly connected, contextually aware and intelligent, helping to deliver greater reliability and efficiency.
Together with academics from the University of Nottingham and Harvard University we have demonstrated a wide range of potential future technologies at the, from ‘snake’ robots that work their way through the engine like an endoscope, to miniature, collaborative ‘swarm’ robots that crawl through the insides of an engine.
These robotic technologies each represent an opportunity to improve the way engine maintenance is delivered, for example by speeding up inspection processes or by removing the need to take an engine off an aircraft in order to perform maintenance work. This has the potential to offer significant benefits for customers by reducing the cost of engine maintenance, increasing the availability of an engine and ensuring any maintenance required is completed as quickly as possible.
FLARE, more affectionately known as ‘snake’ robots, are flexible enough to travel through an engine, like an endoscope, before collaborating to carrying out patch repairs to damaged thermal barrier coatings. This project is a partnership between Rolls-Royce, University of Nottingham and Metallisation.