Robot Snakes On A Plane!

Remotely-controlled robot snakes are under development for aircraft maintenance. But these robotic 'snakes on a plane' would be used at any time, even when the plane is in flight, by engineers.


(S7 snake robot with sensor suite)

The idea for the snake robot stems partly from the fact that engine makers like Rolls-Royce and General Electric in the US routinely use intelligent algorithms to monitor the health of plane engines in flight. The software analyses data sent from around 100 pressure, temperature and vibration sensors embedded in each engine. These algorithms flag up trouble spots...

Right now, such checks are performed using a fibre-optic instrument called a borescope, a heavy-duty version of a medical endoscope. It is inserted in one of many 10 millimetre-wide ports dotted around a jet engine...

"We don't have enough specialists to go around so we need to automate this capability," says Rolls-Royce senior vice-president Pat Emmott. The firm's answer is to develop a robot that a relatively unskilled engineer can bolt on to an engine and leave to do its job. The snake robot would then go into the engine and feed images back to an expert who controls it remotely...

Science fiction writers have long written about snake robots of various sizes. Consider the mining worm from Love Among the Robots (1946) by Emmett McDowell and the robot earthworms from War With The Robots (1962) by Harry Harrison.

Via New Scientist.

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