Advanced science.  Applied technology.


Aircraft Sustainment Robotics

Sustainment of U.S. Air Force and commercial aircraft is challenging due to the size and complexity of aircraft with diverse maintenance and readiness requirements that must be weighed against the needs of various aircraft missions. Southwest Research Institute develops Industrial Robotics Automation solutions to help aerospace clients improve the quality of aircraft sustainment, maintenance and production. We have over 30 years of experience in custom robotic design for the aerospace and manufacturing industries to help clients solve the toughest sustainment challenges.

Aircraft Painting Process & Surface Inspection Solutions

Plastic media blast robotic system developed by SwRI

Plastic media blast robotic system developed by SwRI.

Our large-scale robotics aircraft sustainment and maintenance activities include aircraft depaint (paint removal), part and fuselage inspection, and aircraft painting process (sanding and painting). Our robotics team has world-class facilities for simulating the application environment as well as de-risking projects by creating process studies in laboratory environments. The most common benefits of automation and robots include increasing human safety, reduction of human exposure, increased process repeatability and increased production throughput.

Large Workspace Robotics - Our research incorporates development of unique large robot solutions to solve problems that cannot be accomplished by standard robotic systems.

Gantry-based, off-airframe depaint robotics

Gantry-based, off-airframe depaint robotics.

  • Mobile robotics
  • Gantry-based robotics
  • Large workspace, highly dexterous robotics

Robotic Depaint & Painting Process

Blue robot comprised of two segments - the first is vertical with XYREC in white lettering; the second is horizontal to the ground with a laser attached. The robot is using a laser to remove an aircraft coating
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Aircraft Surface Inspection - Our aircraft surface inspection solutions utilize advanced sensing technologies incorporated with mobile and/or custom robotic solutions to identify unique surface and sub-surface features in aerospace systems. SwRI has been involved in the development and testing of multiple large-workspace mobile robotic systems used for in-situ surface inspection as well as smaller contained robotic cells for off airframe inspection.

Aircraft MRO – SwRI’s aircraft sustainment expertise spans the supply chain for aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO). Clients can leverage SwRI’s aircraft MRO expertise in robotics and other technical disciplines, including:

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