With the RoboDK software, researchers can create a complete computer simulation of the product to be inspected, the inspection pattern, and the movement of the inspection tool (such as the infrared camera) before deploying the robot on-site. At inspection time, the program can be quickly downloaded to the robot and inspection can begin without any delays or additional setup. Programming the robot also ensures efficiency in inspection, as the program moves the robot on the most practical and comprehensive paths around the aircraft to make sure no areas are missed. Because RoboDK is a member of the UR+ development ecosystem, its simulation software has been fully tested and proven for compatibility and fast and easy integration with all UR robots.
The UR10’s built-in safety features allow people to work closely alongside the robot while it’s inspecting the aircraft. That allows other inspections or manufacturing processes to take place during the infrared inspection, which improves efficiency and saves time. The robot’s ease-of-use, programmability, and payload and reach capabilities make it ideal for a wide range of inspection types beyond infrared thermography, such as ultrasound or eddy current testing.
The long-term goal is to integrate this inspection system into the environment where fuselages are being manufactured, with minimal additional cost to the manufacturer, explained Elliott Cramer, Branch Head of Nondestructive Evaluation Sciences at NASA Langley Research Center. But there are additional long-term advantages as well. “The data that we record when the vehicle is manufactured can stay with the vehicle for its life,” Cramer said. “Because it was done robotically the first time, you know exactly where it was and you have the means to go back to that exact location and compare any changes that may be occurring during the life of the vehicle.”
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