ROBOTICS

Robot Gasses Up Joint Strike Fighter

2/1/2011
By Eric Beidel
Twice now a robot has successfully refueled a simulated gas tank of an F-35 fighter jet, sparking what may be a radical change in how the military services its aircraft.

The Air Force Research Laboratory is making upgrades to its automated aircraft ground refueling system, after which it will begin field tests with the machine.

Air Force engineers say that the robot will decrease the need for humans to be near aircraft while refueling, thereby increasing safety in such activities. Though refueling equipment has been enhanced over the years, the process still remains a manual one that requires the handling of a supply hose, its attachment and detachment. Engines routinely run throughout the process, adding to the risks.

With the use of cameras and sensors, the robot can find an aircraft’s panel door, open it and hold it while a separate arm handles a fuel nozzle. An operator initiates the refueling process with a push of a button on a control unit several hundred feet away.


Topics: Robotics

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