In the near future, the aircraft engines could be repaired by the cockroaches. Sounds surprising, right? Well, Rolls-Royce is actually thinking something like that. The company known for fine automobiles and airplane engines is developing tiny robot cockroaches that can crawl inside an airplane engine, spot the problem and fix accordingly.
The cockroach robots are quite tiny, about 15 millimeters tall and weight in just a few ounces. Each of them would come with a camera and optics for 3D scanning, which would let the engineers remotely access problems before rearranging the robots to fix them. Once the job is done, the roaches could be reprogrammed to leave the engine or the engine could flush them out.
“They could go off scuttling around reaching all different parts of the combustion chamber,” said James Kell, technology specialist at Rolls-Royce. “If we did it conventionally it would take us five hours; with these little robots, who knows, it might take five minutes.”
Rolls-Royce has teamed up with the robotics experts at the University of Nottingham in England and Harvard University in the U.S. to explore the concept. However, this is still a prototype and much larger than the desired size. Besides, the robots are still not prepared for these types of repairs. If everything goes well, you could see the cockroach robots repairing aircraft engines in as little as two years.