Robotic geometric and volumetric inspection of high value and large scale aircraft wings

Mineo, Carmelo and MacLeod, Charles Norman and Su, Riliang and Lines, David and Davi', Santi and Cowan, Bruce and Pierce, Stephen and Paton, Scott and Munro, Gavin and McCubbin, Coreen and Watson, David and Kerr, William (2019) Robotic geometric and volumetric inspection of high value and large scale aircraft wings. In: 2019 IEEE International Workshop on Metrology for AeroSpace, 2019-06-19 - 2019-06-21.

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    Abstract

    Increased demands in performance and production rates require a radical new approach to the design and manufacturing of aircraft wings. Performance of modern robotic manipulators has enabled research and development of fast automated non-destructive testing (NDT) systems for complex geometries. This paper presents recent outcomes of work aimed at removing the bottleneck due to data acquisition rates, to fully exploit the scanning speed of modern 6-DoF manipulators. The geometric assessment of the parts is carried out with a robotised dynamic laser scanner encoded through an absolute laser tracker. This method allows scanning speeds up to 330mm/s at 1mm pitch. State of the art ultrasonic instrumentation has been integrated into a large robot cell to enable fast data acquisition, high scan resolutions and accurate positional encoding. A fibre optic connection between the ultrasonic instrument and the server computer enables data transfer rates up to 1.6 GB/s. The robotic inspection system presented herein is currently being tested for industrial exploitation. The adopted system integration strategies allow traditional ultrasonic phased array scanning as well as full matrix capture (FMC) and other novel scanning approaches (e.g. multi-Tx phased array). Scan results, relative to a 1.2m x 3m carbon fibre sample, are presented. The system shows a reference scanning rate of 25.3m2/hour with an 8Tx/8Rx PA approach and an ultrasonically reachable scanning rate over 100m2/hour with the novel techniques.