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Automated Inspection of Aircraft

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Final rept.

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This report summarizes the development of a robotic system designed to assist aircraft inspectors by remotely deploying non-destructive inspection NDI sensors and acquiring, processing, and storing inspection data. Carnegie Mellon University studied the task 9f aircraft inspection, compiled the functional requirements for an automated system to inspect skin fastener rows, and developed a conceptual design of an inspection robot. A prototype of the robotic inspection system the Automated Nondestructive Inspector or ANDI was developed. The first phase of system development resulted in a laboratory system that demonstrated the abilities to adhere to the surface of an aircraft panel and deploy a standard eddy-current sensor. The second phase of development included enhancing the mechanics, adding video cameras to the robot for navigation, and adding an on-board computer for low-level task sequencing. The second-phase system was subsequently demonstrated at the FAAs Aging Aircraft NDI Validation Center AANC. During the final phase of development, emphasis was placed on the enhancement of the robots navigational system through automated recognition of image features captured by the navigation cameras. A significant development effort remains to be accomplished before this robotic inspection technology is suitable for operational deployment. Outstanding development issues include 1 reducing the weight of the robot so that it is more comfortable to lift and position on the aircraft 2 improving the mechanical reliability and speed of the system 3 minimizing the scratching of the skin surface by the suction cups and eddy-current sensors 4 reduction or elimination of the umbilical cable and 5 automation of the manually controlled operations. To commercialize the technology, a new mechanical system would need to be designed and built incorporating the lessons of this work.

Subject Categories:

  • Terminal Flight Facilities
  • Cybernetics
  • Test Facilities, Equipment and Methods

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