Drill End-Effector for Robotic Drilling in Confined Space Aircraft Inlet Ducts

Period of Performance: 02/12/2007 - 02/12/2008


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Beck Engineering
1490 Lumsden Road
Port Orchard, WA 98367
Principal Investigator


The Air Force needs a Robotic Drilling System (RDS) for drilling and countersinking holes in JSF inlet ducts. We propose a team to develop all elements of a complete RDS: Robot/Robotic Application; Drill End-Effector (DEE); Metrology System; Cutting Tools; and an Automatic Tool Changer. This proposal focuses on the DEE. We propose to develop a Vacuum Nose-Lock/DEE (VNL/DEE). Robots can accurately position drills, but robots lack rigidity required during drilling, so hole quality can be poor. Positive clamp-up forces can be used to increase structural rigidity. However, maximum allowable forces on ducts limit positive clamp-up forces and, therefore, rigidity and hole quality. Our VNL/DEE provides negative clamp-up forces that subtract from drilling forces to produce: small (or even NET-ZERO) forces on ducts; rigid structures; and precise holes. Our VNL/DEE has compact dimensions to access a high percentage of holes in JSF inlet ducts. In Phase I, we will demonstrate our VNL/DEE. In Phase II, we will: implement needed improvements; and fully develop our VNL/DEE and RDS for initial pilot production capability. In Phase III, our team will integrate our RDS for lab and full-scale milestones and production floor cell integration.