New Zealand-based Invert Robotics has already simplified aircraft inspections with its mobile climbing robots, which can traverse aircraft surfaces to provide visual inspections in a fraction of the time it takes a worker to perform the same task at-height. Now—in addition to adhering to upside down or wet aircraft surfaces—the suction-based robots can climb on rough, uneven surfaces.
The upgraded robots feature a new platform with enhanced suction, which enables the robots to climb on dirty or dusty surfaces. In addition, the company has made improvements related to the speed at which the robots can climb over lapped joints and other surface discontinuities, such as windows and damaged surfaces. According to a spokesperson for Invert Robotics, the new functionality has been added in the past few months as part of an ongoing commitment to expand the range of areas and environments the robots can operate in.
Earlier this year, Invert Robotics partnered with SR Technics to use the robots for enhancing aircraft maintenance inspections. Although the MRO provider has discontinued testing of robot technology in its aircraft maintenance division for the time being, Invert Robotics says it continues to work closely with the company’s former CEO on identifying further applications of the robots.
“We have successfully demonstrated the robot to leading airlines and received positive feedback,” says a spokesperson for Invert Robotics. “The feedback has identified even more exciting potential applications for the robot.”
According to Invert Robotics, the company is targeting maintenance tasks where technicians are required to work at-height or in dangerous circumstances, such as inspection and cleaning, but they “are ruling nothing out.” Additionally, the robots’ usage for non-destructive testing (NDT) technologies has been identified as a key efficiency improvement.
“The latest version of the platform provides a standardized means of attaching payloads, and as such we will see rapid releases of new functionality,” says a spokesperson for Invert Robotics. “The first payloads in the development pipeline are NDT sensors for thickness, crack and coating testing.”
Invert Robotics plans to deploy these new capabilities within the industry in 2019. Pricing of the robots is on a case-by-case basis, depending on individual clients’ requirements.