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AutoDISC, an Innovate UK funded research project is developing a new system for Non-Destructive Inspection (NDI) for future generation composite aircraft using CAD controlled robotics that will ensure aircraft are both safe to fly and have reduced aircraft hangar time, thus saving costs.
The research group consisting Plant Integrity, BIC (Brunel Innovation Centre), KCC, InnoTecUK, Jackweld and NetComposites, proposes two key non-destructive inspection innovations. Up to 100% NDI coverage using gantry deployed, CAD controlled robotics, so that inspection records can be accurately compared at successive maintenance downtime intervals, to allow health diagnostics and prognostics. The second innovation is a step increase in current detection probability for composite defects, implemented through an inference engine performing similarity analysis on spatial and temporal changes in images, with coherent noise removal performed by advanced signal processing.
Aircraft are currently inspected part by part; AutoDISC aims to allow the scanning of an entire aeroplane without the need for dismantling. Automation will make the current inspection process quicker, more efficient and more accurate, so that defects that could be missed by manual inspection are detected and aircraft downtime is minimised.
The AutoDISC project will provide an automated ultrasonic inspection system for aerospace composites with enhanced defect detection probabilities aided by gantry deployed, CAD controlled robotics. The project started on the 1st August 2014 and so far the materials for the test specimens for inspection have been determined along with the test specimen dimensions and form. The software systems, robotics and NDI technique are currently being developed, along with industrially relevant test specimens for proving the capability of the AutoDISC system.
AutoDISC has received considerable interest in the proposed technology. In particular, industry would welcome new methods that increase efficiency savings (through reduced downtime and costs), and that help to improve the record-keeping systems associated with inspections.
The research leading to these results has received funding from the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK under Grant Agreement No. 101800.
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