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AFRL demos RANDE system

22nd February 2017 - 11:30 GMT | by The Shephard News Team


The US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) has demonstrated a robotic snake-arm tool designed to improve aircraft maintenance procedures.

The tool, called the Remote Access Nondestructive Evaluation (RANDE) system, was developed with the UK's OC Robotics.

RANDE can reach into confined areas to perform inspections, and give maintainers access to tight spaces and hard-to-reach components, such as the interior of aircraft wings. Rather than needing to remove the wing to perform work, maintainers only need to remove the necessary external access panels and manoeuvre the snake arm through an access hole as small as three inches in diameter.

The hope is that these simplified processes have the potential to result in reduced maintenance hours, and eliminate the possibility of maintenance-induced damage from the pre-inspection processes.

RANDE has a multi-axis manoeuvrable head that includes multiple lights, small cameras, and a port to which inspectors can attach a variety of interchangeable inspection tools, including eddy current probes. The system is portable and can be wheeled to the inspection area for quick setup and use. A laptop computer records the full robotic motion, video camera images, and inspection data. The robotic arm is operated with the use of a joystick game controller.

In addition to reducing the time required to complete inspections, RANDE reduces labour and aircraft downtime. Maintainer health and safety is also increased, with inspections no longer requiring climbing onto an aircraft or wedging into tight spaces.

Following the successful demonstration at Hill AFB, the RANDE system will assessed by the 809th Maintenance Support Squadron.

The Shephard News Team


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