Aircraft engines can suffer from cold dwell cracking, a potentially critical issue that requires the engine to be removed from the wing in order to inspect it, with associated costs of approximately £0.5M per engine. The capability of performing inspections on-wing, i.e. without dismantling the engine, would represent a significant advantage in terms of cost savings and improved safety. However, the insertion and deployment of inspection probes on-wing requires a complex manipulator system that surpasses currently available devices.

 This project aims to develop a novel snake-robot capable of navigating in cluttered engine environments and deploying probes for on-wing engine inspection. The robotic concept will be adapted from existing soft robots commonly used in minimally invasive surgery. However, research will be required on the mechanical analysis, kinematic study, control and system integration in order to achieve a small diameter robotic device with sufficient force and positioning accuracy to ensure a correct inspection implementation.

Funding Sources and Sponsor

EPSRC and Rolls-Royce plc.