Flying Measurement Technology

The research team at the kick-off meeting: S. Mehler (Lufthansa Technik), D. Fauk (Apodius), S. Recher (Scisys), R. Zweigel (IRT), A. Buckhorst and C. Storm (WZL), M. Sorg (DFMRS), M. Lange (Spectair) and B. Montavon (i3ac; from left; source: WZL, RWTH)

In the context of quality management, non-destructive inspections of large scale components pose a great challenge. In general, for those tasks the range of industrial robot arms or the working space of measuring stations is exceeded. Hence, the project “Automatic, multicopter-based indoor inspection of large surfaces“ “Amiigo“ was launched in Aachen in October 2017. The project objective is to significantly reduce non-destructive inspection efforts by using automated, indoor-flying unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) carrying measuring equipment for inspection purposes. In the future, adapted optical measuring technology will be automatically moved over large surfaces of large assemblies, e.g. aircrafts, to identify defects. Detected errors should be stored in so-called “defect maps”, which consist of stitched 3D point clouds.

The project is funded by the Arbeitsgemeinschaft industrieller Forschungsvereinigungen (AiF) and the Deutsche Forschungseinrichtung für Mess-, Regelungs- und Systemtechnik e.V. (DFMRS). Within the next two years, the Institute of Automatic Control (IRT) and the Chair of Production Metrology and Quality Management at the Laboratory of Machine Tools and Production Engineering (WZL) of the RWTH Aachen University will work together to develop a location and detection algorithm for defects and integrate a suitable motion planning & control approach for the given problem statement. The IRT will focus its research primarily on multicopter automation, while the WZL will be responsible for project management, the system’s meteorology as well as interfaces and communications. In addition to the DFMRS, the WZL and IRT, Apodius, Automated Precision Europe, Faserinstitut Bremen, Five Robots, Interdisciplinary Imaging & Vision Insitute Aachen, Lufthansa Technik, Nikon, SCI-SYS Deutschland and Spectair Group are also involved in the project-accompanying committee.

During the kick-off meeting on October 18th 2017, the upper aircraft fuselage structure and the tail unit (both horizontal and vertical stabilizer) were identified as the preferred subjects of investigation for the to be developed system. During the project, the research team will primarily focus on the use-case aircraft surface inspection and in particular on the damage investigation after lightning strikes. In addition, the use-case of an automated investigation of coatings and welds inside of large oil tanks, which allow only a limited accessibility for employees, was discussed but only will be respected subordinately. (Source: WZL)

Links: Institute for Automatic Control IRT, Leibniz Universität Hannover, Germany • Tools and Production Engineering WZL, Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, RWTH Aachen University, Germany

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