A new robot developed by engineers at GE Aerospace Research, Binghamton University, and UES, Inc. could revolutionize inspecting jet engines. The robot, called Sensiworm (Soft ElectroNics Skin-Innervated Robotic Worm), is a bio-inspired soft-robotic device that moves like an inchworm. It has the ability to access inaccessible parts of jet engines, providing better and more thorough inspections.
Currently, jet engine inspections are done using borescopes, which are long flexible tubes with a video camera on one end. However, these devices can be difficult to maneuver and the camera-end often droops down due to gravity. Sensiworm addresses these issues by using vacuum cups on its underside to move through the engine using an inchworm-like push-pull style of locomotion.
Sensiworm not only provides live video from a forward-facing spotlight-assisted camera, but it also has sensors that can detect gas leaks and measure the thickness of thermal barrier coatings on engine parts. The robot’s sensors can identify cracks, corrosion, and other problems that may be present in the engine. In the future, it is hoped that Sensiworm will also be able to perform remote-control repairs.
The final version of Sensiworm will be completely self-contained and untethered, with its own power supply, microprocessor, and other electronics. The robot will be able to transmit live video and real-time data about the condition of engine parts, providing operators with additional sets of eyes and ears to perform thorough inspections. This technology has the potential to enhance safety in the aviation industry and improve maintenance practices.
Overall, Sensiworm is an innovative development that will make jet engine inspections easier and more reliable. It represents a significant advancement in the field of robotics and has the potential to transform the way aircraft maintenance is carried out.
Sources: General Electric