OC Robotics has secured a contract from Airbus to develop snake-arm robot technology for possible aircraft manufacturing processes. The focus will be assembly tasks within wing boxes - an area currently inaccessible to automation.
The composite, single skin construction of aircraft structures, such as the A350 wing, presents new challenges for robotic assembly. Today an aircraft fitter climbs into the wing box through a small access panel and uses manual or power tools to perform a variety of tasks.
OC Robotics' snake-arm robots provide the opportunity to replace manual procedures by delivering the required tools to all areas of the wing box. They could be used to perform tasks such as final sealant application and swaging.
More widely the development of snake-arm robots could ultimately enable major design and process changes creating the opportunity for considerable cost savings for the aerospace industry. Future wings could be designed with fewer and smaller access panels and maintenance times could be reduced.
A demonstration snake-arm robot will be completed in mid-2006. On successful completion of trials, the industrialisation process will be completed in the following 12 months.
Thursday, February 23, 2006