Intelligent Robot Path Planning System for Grinding of Aircraft Propeller Blades



OBJECTIVE: Develop intelligent robot path planning process for grinding of aircraft propeller blades.

DESCRIPTION:Repair operations on aircraft propellers such as C130 are carried out by robotic grinding operations.The current process uses a fixed robot path for each blade geometry.An opportunity exists to intelligently customize the robot path for the specific defects found on a part.The proposed research would use coordinate measurement machine probing and 3D scanning techniques to build a model of the blade and then automatically generate customized robot grinding tool paths specific to the defects of the blade.The scanning should be automated as well with automation for filtering scan data and converting to a suitable format as a starting point 3D model for path planning.The scanned model and original CAD design of the part should be registered and aligned properly for path planning.The automatic path will then be made to correct defects by removing material from the scanned model to move into tolerance with the original CAD design.Additionally, the path planning system should focus on usability, flexibility, and supportability.Minimal training and learning curve should be required to use the path planning process.The software user interface should provide enough control to react to different blade geometries and defect types.The software should be easy to upgrade and allow modest refinements by users via plugins, scripts, and other end user software customizations.

PHASE I: Develop a proof of concept path planning system prototype.In this phase, the process will demonstrate making a robot path plan from 3D scan data.Customization of the path plan might be limited to only Z height corrections.The prototyping in this phase will provide key input to specifying and defining the path planning software to be delivered in phase II.

PHASE II: Develop the path planning system to a deployment ready state.Greater ability to make corrections in full 3D will be implemented.The path plans produced by the process will be verified on target robot systems.Ease of use will be evaluated using novice users.The goal of the phase II will be a working robot grinding software the results in measurable improvements in the rate of success of propeller blade repair.

PHASE III: Robotic grinding has many commercial applications.A successful system could be marketed to commercial aerospace industry as well as other defense customers.Additional markets might include the construction, automotive, and shipbuilding industries.


1.Wang, W. and Choa, Y. “A Path Planning Method for Robotic Belt Surface Grinding”, Chinese Journal of Aeronautics, Vol. 24., Issue 4, August 2011.;

2.Li, S. Xie, X. and Yin, L. “Research on Robotic Trajectory Automatic Generation Method for Complex Surface Grinding and Polishing”, ICIRA 2014: Intelligent Robotics and Applications, 2014.;

3.Sufian, M., Chen, X. Yu, D., “Investigating the Capability of Precision in Robotic Grinding”, Automation and Computing (ICAC), October 2017.

KEYWORDS:grinding, robotic, path, intelligent

CONTACT(S):ShaneGroves 4782224066

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