Flexible Robotics to Inspect High-Value Components

Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentation


Safety-critical high-value components manufactured and/or remanufactured by global high-value industries require rapid, flexible and reliable Non-Destructive Testing and Evaluation (NDT&E) technologies to ensure their safe operation. Ultrasound inspection is a regulatory requirement to inspect such components and is often viewed as the bottleneck of the manufacturing process. This, therefore, drives industries towards heavily customised automation technologies to perform inspections. Despite the recent progress made by these systems, they still lack the fundamental technology to perform fully autonomous NDT&E without human intervention. The complex nature of high-value components further exacerbates this problem. Therefore, this research presents and discusses the feasibility and advantages of using flexible robotics in NDT&E to exploit human skills such as dexterity, know-how, analysis and advanced decision-making abilities and robotic capabilities such as strength, accuracy and repeatability to inspect high integrity components. The body of work presented here uses a KUKA LBR human safe collaborative robot together Phased Array Ultrasound Testing (PAUT) roller probe to inspect Carbon Fibre Reinforced Polymer (CFRP) Composite structures and Additively manufactured metal components.
In contrast to conventional automated inspection cells, flexible inspection technologies will enable easily reconfigurable workcells to inspect a variety of high-value components such as aerospace and defence structures, wind turbine blades, complex pipe geometries or pressure vessels. Further, these systems will increase accuracy and throughput by combining unique human skills and robotic capabilities. It is expected that these systems to improve safety and ergonomics by utilising the robot to perform mundane bulk inspections of large and less complex surfaces. The flexible robotic programming technique introduced in this research will provide in-situ robotic programming capabilities enabling human inspectors to program these systems by task demonstration. This is advantageous when there is little or no prior knowledge of advanced robotics or part geometries at hand. Finally, proposed collaborative inspection cells will have dynamic robotic tool path planning enabling real-time probe trajectory optimisation for better inspection results and to accommodate as-built part tolerances.
Period26 Jul 2022
Event title49th Annual Review of Progress in Quantitative Nondestructive Evaluation (QNDE 2022)
Event typeConference
LocationSan Diego, United StatesShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational