Electronic Skin Could Help Airplanes ‘Feel ‘
Concerns about airplane safety are are at a fever pitch thanks to the very visible nature of plane crashes in the past year. But as the perceived need for better danger detectors rises, so does the level of creativity used in addressing potential issues.
British aerospace company BAE Systems is designing a “skin” for airplanes that can detect damage and other environmental changes to the plane, helping to diagnose potential issues before they spiral out of control.
“The idea is to make platforms ‘feel’ using a skin of sensors in the same way humans or animals do,” senior research scientist Lydia Hyde, who instigated the project, said in a statement.
The idea came to Hyde while doing laundry one day. She noticed her dryer had a sensor that detected overheating, and realized she could apply the same kind of technology to a plane to prevent it from succumbing to extreme conditions. The skin is made out of a series of tiny sensors that rapidly pick up on changing conditions like temperature and wind velocity. The goal is to monitor these conditions and make repairs quickly.
Hyde envisions the sensors helping to cut back on time-consuming maintenance checks, ensuring safer aircrafts and more flight availability. The sensors can be made smaller than 1 square millimeter in size and will possibly be sprayed on a plane’s body like a coat of paint.
The smart skin is still in the early stages of development and no announcements have been made about airlines adopting the technology.
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