Imagine an inspector conducting an NDE on an aircraft where you notice something is different about him ? he is not real but rather he is a robot. Your first reaction would probably be to say ?it?s unbelievable but he looks real? just as you would react to an artificial flower that is a good imitation. This science fiction scenario could become a reality at the trend in the development of biologically inspired technologies, and terms like artificial intelligence, artificial muscles, artificial vision? and numerous others are increasingly becoming common engineering tools. For many years, the trend has been to automate processes in order to increase the efficiency of performing redundant tasks where various systems have been developed to deal with specific production line requirements. Realizing that some parts are too complex or delicate to handle in small quantities with a simple automatic system, robotic mechanisms were developed. Aircraft inspection has benefited from this evolving technology where manipulators and crawlers are developed for rapid and reliable inspection. Advancement in robotics towards making them autonomous and possibly look like human, can potentially address the need to inspect structures that are beyond the capability of today?s technology with configuration that are not predetermined. The operation of these robots may take place at harsh or hazardous environments that are too dangerous for human presence. Making such robots is becoming increasingly feasible and in this paper the state of the art will be reviewed.
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