University of Nottingham
  • Print
   
   

Government Funded (Industrial projects not involved)

main-mcm-720

The MCM team is currently participating in a number of projects funded by Innovate UK, Horizon 2020, EPSRC and Clean Sky EU. With a total budget of over £17.7M, the projects show the present commitment to advance technology for robotic on-wing repair, robotics for hazardous environments and advanced manufacturing. Eight MCM staff members and multiple students work closely with Rolls-Royce, SMEs, organisations and universities from around the world to advance the state of the art with real-world applications.

 

INSPECT (In-situ optical inspection of engine components)

With the civil aviation sector continuing to grow year-on-year, an ever increasing number of routine in-situ gas turbine inspections are undertaken by both gas turbine providers and their customers. Whilst these are critical for ensuring a high-level of aeroengine safety, they are time intensive, vary between inspectors, and offer limited data capture and assessment possibilities. Through the INSPECT consortium, an optical inspection system will be developed that can be permanently and retrofittably embedded into the gas turbine borescope ports. Upon engine shutdown, probes are automatically inserted into the engine gas path, providing an fast, frequent, and standardised compressor inspection after every operation. INSPECT is a state-of-the-art inspection technology, enabling future Big Data Analytics, data mining, and trending. This will ultimately make RollsRoyce and its customers data rich and able to optimise flight paths, maintenance schedules, and possibly even OEM design.

Participant organization names:

Funder: Innovate UK

Contact: Andres Gameros (Andres.Gameros@nottingham.ac.uk)

 

COBRA (Continuum Robot for Remote Applications)

Imagine if an engineer could inspect and repair a pipe deep within a nuclear reactor without having to get changed into a HAZMAT suit, or even perform an inspection and then repair a jet engine still attached to the wing of an aircraft, but from the comfort of their own home. COBRA (Continuum Robot for Remote Applications) aims to do just that. A consortium of industrial companies and academic institutions aims to design, develop and build a novel solution for remotely controlled specialist robots that will enable maintenance & repair tasks to be undertaken in extreme environments by teleoperation without compromising the health and safety of the operators.

COBRA will reduce lifecycle costs, provide rapid worldwide operational response to issues, and improve the safety and quality of high value installed infrastructures. The continuum robot (a.k.a. snake robot), will be long enough to be deployed in a range of pipe based nuclear fission and fusion scenarios, as well as small enough in diameter to be applicable to jet engine deployment through conventional inspection ports. The main objectives of COBRA include production of a full scale teleoperated prototype, inclusive of the control software, a range of shape sensors and two separate, interchangeable and innovative 'end effectors'. Firstly, a 3D camera to provide high resolution views of the environment and feed into an immersive interface with augmented reality elements. Secondly, a miniature laser processing head to allow robotic corrective action to take place. A miniature laser head has been developed by OpTek Systems Ltd for a specific application in Rolls-Royce Aerospace, but COBRA will develop the miniature laser control head to work in challenging new environments opening new markets for OpTek to exploit.

Participant organization names:

Funder: Innovate UK

Contact: David Alatorre (David.Alatorre@nottingham.ac.uk)

 

RAIN (Robotics and Artificial Intelligence for Nuclear)

 The nuclear industry has some of the most extreme environments in the world, with radiation levels and extremely harsh conditions restraining human access to many facilities.

Yet to date, robotic systems have had very little impact on the industry, even though it is clear that they offer major opportunities for improving productivity and significantly reducing risks to human health.

The RAIN initiative has been created to address these issues by developing the advanced robotics and artificial intelligence that will be essential for future nuclear operations. Their adoption will have the potential to completely transform the nuclear industry globally.

At the same time it is envisaged that the reliable, functional robotic systems that are the programme’s goal will also have important applications in other sectors. These will extend beyond extreme environments such as space exploration, in-orbit satellite design, offshore operations and mining to include less challenging areas where RAIN research will be highly relevant, such as healthcare and autonomous vehicles.

The programme’s overall objectives are to lower costs within the nuclear industry, reduce timescales, reduce risk, improve safety, promote remote inspection and reduce the chances of human exposure to radiation and other hazards. Once developed, the technologies that will help to realise these objectives are to form the foundation of a world-leading robotic and AI research and innovation ecosystem.

Participant organization names:

Funder: EPSRC

Contact: Xin Dong (Xin.Dong@nottingham.ac.uk)

 

FLARE (Flame spray Adder for in-situ patch Repair of aero-Engine Combustors)

FLARE is a project utilising continuum robot capability developed by the University of Nottingham, and incorporating miniaturised flame spray equipment from Metallisation. There is significant market desire to create a device that can perform in-situ / on-wing patch repair of flame sprayed coatings without dismantling high value infrastructure e.g. aircraft jet engines. It is costly and time consuming for maintenance and overhaul activities to be completed whilst the engine is removed, it is more attractive to Rolls-Royce, airline customers and the technology supply chain to be able to perform more services with the engine still intact and attached to the aircraft.

Participant organization names:

Funder: Innovate UK

Contact: Xin Dong (Xin.Dong@nottingham.ac.uk)

 

STIMULANT (Surface integrity conscious high-performance hybrid machining for safety-critical superalloy aeroengine parts)

 STIMULANT aims to develop and demonstrate “surface integrity conscious” hybridisation of machining processes for safety-critical aeroengine parts that is able to deliver a step-change in Material Removal Rates (MRR) and reduction in production costs. STIMULANT will take key knowledge at different levels of maturity that exists within Consortium, and progress it, via Standard Features (StdFs) methodology, to the demonstration on “engine-like” safety-critical parts. 

Participant organization names:

Funder: Clean Sky 2 - Horizon 20-20

Contact: Zhirong Liao (Zhirong.Liao@nottingham.ac.uk)

 

Machining and Condition Monitoring

Faculty of Engineering
Jubilee Campus
Nottingham, NG8 1BB

email: mcm@nottingham.ac.uk