Manufacturing giant Rolls Royce is stepping up its efforts to be a leader in future innovations. After announcing their flying taxi plans last week, the company has now rolled out new robotic initiatives to revolutionize engineering.

Known for their luxury vehicles, Rolls Royce is diversifying its portfolio into innovative future tech.

Not only do they have plans for a 5-person flying taxi, they now want to incorporate robotics into everyday car maintenance.

What are these robot bugs and snakes that will clean your car’s engine?

The Forefront of Engine Cleaning Technology

As part of the IntelligentEngine Project, Rolls Royce devised ways to perform basic car maintenance using future tech.

The project, spearheaded by Rolls Royce, includes innovative initiatives and sustainability measures across vehicles including cars, helicopters, and more. But they also provide insights into medical technology and data science as well.

When looking for someone to help with these robotic cleaners, Rolls Royce had to choose carefully. Metallisation and the University of Nottingham worked together to devise these inventions.

The robotic snake functions like an endoscope in that it doesn’t disturb a car’s parts. It can move around, performing maintenance, without interfering or causing damage to the vehicle. You can see in the video above how two of these robot snakes can function together.

First, one inspects the engine for any issues to fix. Then, the two snakes go back and forth, performing maintenance, resulting in one final inspection. Once they have verified that maintenance is complete, the snakes withdraw from the engine.

But these reptilian maintenance bots aren’t the only aspect of this new initiative.

image of an artist's rendering of the forthcoming swarm robot bugs for article Rolls Royce Wants Robot Bugs and Snakes to Repair car Engines
An artist’s rendering of the swarm robot bugs | IntelligentEngine Project

Swarms of Robots are the new Mechanics

Swarms of insects don’t usually inspire hope and excitement (not for me, at least). But the new swarm robots from the IntelligentEngine Project seek to change that.

Around 10mm in diameter, the swarm robot bugs would get deposited via the robot snakes above. They would start at the center of an engine, working their way through to perform maintenance. Camera equipment allows them to provide live video feeds, as well.

That means that any operator could do a “live diagnosis” on any car engine.

But these robot bugs aren’t the only ones. IntelligentEngine Project has a host of options according to their website. In fact, this initiative is far from the only one.

The partnerships between Rolls Royce, University of Nottingham, and Harvard University focuses on different aspects of robotics and engineering. In 2017 alone, Rolls Royce invested around $1.8-billion USD into their IntelligentEngine Project research and development.

Perhaps the next few years will yield practical applications of the R&D.

In what other ways could robotics improve maintenance efforts for cars?

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