From robotic cockroach that can crawl underwater to a robotic cockroach that can potentially perform search-and-rescue operations; every aspect is being explored by scientists in how they could harness the unique characteristics of the said insect.
Recently, Rolls-Royce, a company that is best known for its line of luxury cars, has created tiny robotic cockroaches that can crawl inside tight spaces of an aircraft to look for potential problems and eventually perform routine maintenance checks.
How These Robotic Cockroaches Affect Aircraft Maintenance
The company assured that the miniature technology can advance the way maintenance is being performed through swift inspections and doing away with the need to remove an engine from an aircraft for repair to be done.
These robotic cockroaches could go off scuttling around, reaching various parts of the combustion chamber. These robots could definitely save engineers a lot of time,” said James Kell, a technology specialist at Rolls-Royce.
“If we perform maintenance checks in a conventional way, it would probably take us five hours. With these little robots around, who knows, it might just take five minutes,” he even added.
The robotic cockroaches will work together in pairs. One robot will enter a combustion chamber, for instance, in order to scout for any danger or to remove debris, while the second robot, which is designed specifically for the job, will follow suit in order to complete the repair.
This buddy system allows the robotic cockroaches to perform easy tasks and detect problems. It can definitely save a lot of time because as low-skilled workers deploy the robots to investigate an issue, an engineer can retool another robot for a more complicated repair.
Once the inspection and repairs are done, the robots can be programmed to vacate the area, or it can get “ejected out” by the engine itself.
How These Robotic Cockroaches are Designed
In order to delve deeper into the concept, Rolls-Royce has decided to team up with robotics experts from Harvard University in the United States and the University of Nottingham in England.
Sebastian de Rivaz, who is a researcher at the Harvard Institute, said that the concept of the design was derived from the cockroach and that they had been working on the robotic roaches for eight years.
De Rivaz also stated that the next step of the process was to attach cameras on the robots and reduce their size down to 15 millimeters.
As a finished product, the robotic cockroaches would stand about 15 millimeters tall and would weigh just a few ounces. Each robot would be equipped with a camera and optics for 3D scanning that would enable engineers to remotely assess problems before retooling the robotic roaches to perform the appropriate repair.
Currently, their prototypes are much bigger than the target size and not quite geared up for these types of repairs. However, Rolls-Royce did announce that the robots will be ready within two years.
When These Robotic Cockroaches be Available in the Market
As of now, there is still no scheduled date as to when this robotic creepy crawlies will be available in the market. However, it might not be long before we see these little robots scuttling around airplanes and carrying out inspections and repairs.
So, the next time you see a cockroach, you might want to look closer. It just might be one of these robotic cockroaches.