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Air Force contracts IAI to design and develop an Autonomous Inspection System for Aircraft Surface Coatings

To ensure operational integrity of an aircraft, their material, coating, and systems must be characterized in the field to determine any material coating defects. Current methods for inspecting the external surface of low-observable (LO) aircraft are manual, time consuming, and error prone. Technology that reduce inspection times and minimize human error will benefit the Air Force by significantly increasing aircraft reliability and availability while reducing the cost of maintenance over the aircraft’s lifecycle. IAI and The Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University are working to develop EX-SCAN, an autonomous non-contact inspection system that can detect, register, and characterize defects in external coatings of aircraft. Its compact, modular, and portable design allows the system to quickly scan multiple aircraft in sequence without moving the system or vehicles. The key innovation is a self-localizing sensor array equipped with an imaging solution. The corresponding software will be designed to automatically characterize defects in surface coatings and register their location in the aircraft’s coordinate system. EX-SCAN can accurately estimate in real time its position and orientation, and provide in-situ optical identification and high-resolution characterization of the defected area. The system will transmit defect location and characteristics to the aircraft health assessment system to aid with defect analysis and part life tracking. The robotic localization and actuation technology will ensure rapid, autonomous, and complete coverage of the aircraft surface. The feasibility of this concept will be demonstrated through development of a prototype system which will be tested on representative aircraft.

About IAI:
Intelligent Automation, Inc. (IAI) is a technology innovation company headquartered in Rockville, MD. We specialize in providing advanced technology solutions and R&D services to federal agencies, and corporations throughout the United States and internationally. Leveraging agile R&D processes, a multi-disciplinary collaborative environment, and its substantial intellectual property portfolio, IAI excels in developing concepts into market-focused products and customer-driven solutions. IAI’s core R&D areas include: Air Traffic Management, Big Data and Social Media Analytics, Control and Signal Processing, Cyber Security, Education and Training Technologies, Health Technologies, Modeling and Simulation, Networks and Communications, Robotics, and Sensor Systems. For more information on IAI, please visit

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