18 July, 2018
Rolls-Royce is now creating tiny cockroaches that can crawl inside tight spaces to spot potential problems and perform routine maintenance.
According to James Kell, Rolls-Royce 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.”
“If we did it conventionally it would take us five hours; with these little robots, who knows, it might take five minutes,” he added.
The U.K. engineer said 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.
To explore the concept, the Rolls-Royce has teamed up with robotics experts at Harvard University in the U.S. and the University of Nottingham in England.
These roaches have segregated work. One would enter a combustion chamber, for example, to scope out any danger or to remove debris. A second robot — one designed specifically for the job, or re-designed on the fly to perform less common jobs — would follow to complete the repair.
Once done, the robots could be programmed to leave the space, or get “flushed out” by the engine itself.