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Fatronik: On the climb: Basque technology centre develops portable robot for aircraft assembly work
 

Basque technology centre Fatronik, specializing in mechatronics, has successfully developed a portable climbing robot capable of performing precision drilling operations basically in the aerospace industry. Part of a European research project, the robot was designed and built in response to the growing need to automate aircraft production systems.
Despite being a cutting edge industry, aircraft assembly has largely resisted attempts to introduce greater levels of automation. Aircraft have grown too big too fast, making production equipment large and very expensive. Faced with this problem, Fatronik set about developing a cheaper tool for the industry that has been designed with the aircraft structural element assembly phase (basically fuselages and wings) specifically in mind.

Weighing just 160 kg, this portable aluminium-structured climber robot is capable of working freestanding on the aircraft structure. During the pilot development, the robot was equipped with a drill head to enable it to precision drill metal plate for subsequent bolting to the fuselage assembly. This remarkable machine tool actually supports its own weight, making it suitable to work on any material. As it moves across the aircraft structure, the tool adapts to the curvature while drilling 8 holes a minute, including passing times.

The robot is also fitted with an artificial vision system that enables it to orient itself in the work zone and modify its work programme in real time thanks to a numeric control support system.

Having received a number of requests to customize the robot, Fatronik will shortly be making a larger drilling robot for a major European aircraft maker. A second project, for the US army, involves fitting the robot with a laser head for stripping aircraft paint coatings. The robot platform can also be used in other areas, including the shipbuilding industry and cleaning buildings.


 

Summary of a news item published in Estrategia Empresarial,  15  March, 2005

Fecha de la última modificación: 08/04/2005