EasyJet turns to robot drones for aircraft safety inspection

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The airline EasyJet is to employ robotic drones to inspect its fleet of 220 Airbus aircraft for damage.

The UK airline has been working with the Bristol Robotics Laboratory (BRL), a partnership between the University of Bristol and the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol), to develop the drones that will scan and assess EasyJet’s planes, reporting back to engineers on any damage which may require further inspection or maintenance work.

EasyJet plans to trial the drones in the coming months and introduce them into operation as early as next year.

Ian Davies, head of engineering for EasyJet, commented that the drones will free up engineering staff to undertake more skilled tasks. The drones will be used to ensure the safety of the aircraft.

Dr Arthur Richards, head of aerial robotics at Bristol Robotics Laboratory, commented: ‘Aircraft inspection is a great application for drones. Coupled with smart navigation and computer vision, they can get accurate data from really awkward places.

‘We look forward to working with EasyJet to develop safe, effective and efficient drone systems for this challenge.’

EasyJet has also been developing a number of other innovative technologies, including 3D augmented reality systems for diagnosing technical issues remotely.

Virtual reality glasses worn by staff at one location will transmit live images to engineering staff at the airline’s Operations Control Centre to see exactly what a pilot or engineer is seeing. The technology will be especially useful in some of the airline’s more remote airports across its network.

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