Right now, whenever an aircraft needs to be checked for any structural damage, people perform the task on their own. This means that there’s always a job opening for such a skilled person but on the downside; it is time-consuming, costly, and subject to human error. That is why a fuselage-climbing robot was developed for performing this task. The robot is known as the Vortex Robot and is the fruit of a Complnnova project. The Complnnova project involves five European research groups.
The current plan is to ultimately get the four-wheeled Vortex Robot to be able to move wirelessly and autonomously on the exterior of the airplane. Vortex Robot will be making use of an array of integrated sensors including thermal cameras and ultrasound units for searching the place for any defects. It will also be able to make use of drills, lasers, or other tools onboard for performing repairs.
The prototype of Vortex Robot recently performed a test on a Boeing 737 airliner. The test was carried out by a team from Sweden’s Luleå University of Technology at Britain’s Cranfield University. The Vortex Robot relied on a powerful air suction system located on its underside for climbing the plane’s smooth surfaces irrespective of the inclination or curvature and was able to move in any orientation.
Surprisingly enough, it was able to traverse the transitional area where the wing meets the fuselage as well. Georgios Andrikopoulos, technical leader of the project, said, ‘Our vision is multi-robot inspection and repair of aircraft. 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.’
You can check out the Vortex Robot in action in the video given below. The video is, however, in the Swedish language. Do let us know what you think of this amazing robot!