Mobile Robots
Industrial Robotics Technology


Mobile robots and robotics applications of various types are becoming more common place in many manufacturing processes creating an increasing demand for robotics engineering and industrial robotics technology.

The robot example here is one of the more challenging applications - a robot that can crawl over the outside of an airplane body while doing useful work without damaging the thin and delicate skin of airplanes.

Robot & Industrial Robotics Technology


Mobile Aerospace Robotics Vehicle

There are several tasks that periodically need to be performed on the outside of airplane bodies such as scuff sanding prior to painting and inspection for cracks or corrosion as planes age. These tasks are labor intensive, time consuming, and require careful handling to avoid damaging the delicate outer aircraft surface.

The challenge was to develop a mobile robot that could carry equipment and travel over the outside of an airplane body without damaging the skin of the plane.

The mobile robot vehicle requirements were:

  • Remote operator control by joystick.
  • Operate on nonmagnetic and uneven surfaces.
  • Operate on horizontal, vertical, or inverted surfaces.
  • Traverse and make turns on compound curved surfaces.
  • Allow on-the-fly changes in speed of movement.
  • Move smoothly at the specified rate of speed.
  • Maintain a constant distance from the platform to the surface.
  • Be able to cross small gaps and steps.
  • Operate without permanently deforming the skin.
  • Leave no scratches or scuff marks.
  • Carry an equipment load of up to 20 pounds.
Mobile Robot on Airplane The result was a three axis, compound curved surface robotics vehicle that can hold on horizontally, vertically, and inverted; traverse seams and windows; and that does not scuff the surface or permanently deform the skin even when making turns.

Antronics was part of the inventors team that developed the robot vehicle and was responsible for developing the software for both the embedded computers on the robot and the user interface software on the PC used to control the robot.

Additional information on this mobile robot can be found at the Skywalker Robotics web site.

If you have a robotics automation application for industrial robots and need assistance, we're here to help. E-mail us a brief description of your application and your needs.



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