Autonomous sensor robot

Prototype robotic platform (v3)

Advanced composites have become attractive materials for the usage in many mechanical systems due to their unique material properties and high strength-to-weight ratios. However, defects in composite components (e.g. delaminations and disbonds) often remain hidden from the outside. Since visual inspection is not effective for finding such hidden defects, there is an urgent need for alternative nondestructive testing (NDT) methods. While research has shown that guided ultrasonic wave-based NDT methods allow for finding damages within composite components, almost no implementation of these methods has been realized in practice. For potential real-world applications of such NDT methods on large-scale structures, sensors cannot be manually placed on the tested structure, as this would be time-consuming, costly and dependent on the operator’s conduct. The development of autonomous NDT robot systems utilizing guided waves may lead to the development of a plethora of robotic NDT platforms (e.g. crawlers or drones) and applications. Such autonomous NDT techniques have the potential to prevent catastrophic failure and, thus, reduce the loss of life, decrease operational cost by eliminating the unnecessary replacement of intact components, and generally increase the readiness of airplanes, ground vehicles, and naval vessels.

Christoph Schaal
Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering