Wed. Oct 4th, 2023
    A New Worm Robot for Jet Engine Inspections

    GE Aerospace has introduced a new robot called Sensiworm that could revolutionize jet engine inspections. Sensiworm, short for “Soft ElectroNics Skin-Innervated Robotic Worm,” is part of GE’s line of worm robots, which includes the “giant earthworm” and the “Pipeworm.” These robots are designed for tunneling and pipeline inspection, respectively.

    Jet engines are highly complex devices with numerous moving parts that must withstand extreme heat, pressure, and movement. To ensure optimal performance, routine cleaning and inspection are required. Traditionally, this process involves visually inspecting the engine with the aid of a borescope, a thin tube with a camera. However, GE claims that Sensiworm can streamline this process and perform inspections “on wing,” meaning the engine does not need to be removed from the wing.

    Sensiworm, resembling an inchworm, uses suction-like parts on its bottom to maneuver into tight spaces and navigate around engine curves. It is equipped with cameras and sensors and connected via a thin wire. The robot can detect cracks, corrosion, and check the thickness of heat-protecting thermal barrier coatings. In a demonstration video, Sensiworm showcased its ability to navigate obstacles, cling to a spinning turbine, and detect gas leaks.

    These miniature robots serve as “companion” inspectors, expanding the capabilities of human operators during on-wing inspections. They transmit live video and real-time data to help operators assess the condition of engine parts more thoroughly. GE Aerospace is also working on developing repair capabilities for the robots.

    Flexible, squiggling robots like Sensiworm have proven useful in various industries, including medicine, search and rescue, military operations, and even space exploration.

    – GE Aerospace Research
    – GE press release