A renowned company for manufacturing luxury cars and airplane engines is now planning to build a new kind of equipment– cockroaches. Obviously not the giant roach shaped car or airplane to ride, but the small robotic version that could sneak into compact parts of car, plane or spots that need to be repaired.
Equipped with a minuscule camera and gadgets that will map out a 3D scan of their surroundings, the cockroaches will be lightweight weighing just a few grams and stand about 15mm tall. These nanobots will serve as a reconnaissance tool for the engineers that could be sent in the vehicle’s internals and modified to carry out the necessary repairs.
Rolls-Royce’s technology specialist James Cell said, “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.”
More and more companies are resorting towards the micro-robotics to cope with several arising problems. Among these companies, one is Rolls-Royce, which is currently focusing on developing miniature robots that are capable of penetrating the interiors of aircraft engines, spot and rectify the possible problems.
For this purpose, the British company is working in conjunction with the robotics department of Harvard and Nottingham universities. Having the size of cockroach will prove as a bonus for the robots to inspect the jet engines without dismounting them from the aircrafts
Cockroaches are known for their ability to spike through the narrowest spots. Thus, the construction of roboroach is a major hurdle for engineers to overcome. The researchers at Harvard University have been working for 8 years on the similar concept that the English company is working. The only similarity will be the length of the bot that will be no more than 15mm and the ability to carry a micro camera at its top, while the difference is Harvard’s project is called HAMR (Harvard’s Ambulatory MicroRobot)
Against this background, Rolls Royce is on a snake robot that will be bendable and will function as an endoscope inside the engine. The Snake-bot will pierce in the combustion chamber, remove the fragments after damage inspection. Simultaneously, a second snake will solve the problem on a temporary basis until and unless the engine is ready for full repair.
However, no official statement has been made regarding the availability of these micro-bots. What we can expect is that by 2020 Rolls Royce will launch another micro-engine for the compressors of the engine that can be controlled with the help of remote control.
Equipped with a 3D scanner, this robot will be positioned in the engine by a technician and after that, it will be remotely controlled by the company’s aviation base in Derby by qualified technicians. These technicians will decide if the problem needs the intervention of a technician. The ultimate focus of this technology is to reduce the cost, reduce the time to evaluate and identify the failure.