BMW tests robot-assisted CT for non-destructive material testing

July 31, 2018 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
Computed tomography (CT) - this is the general-purpose diagnostic instrument in medicine for the detection of bone fractures, appendectomies and suchlike, isn't it? Now researchers developed a CT system that is to be used in the automotive industry. This will make it possible to comprehensively analyze the quality of cars without disassembly and thus significantly shorten the development time. Vehicle manufacturer BMW is currently testing this robot-supported CT system.

The use of RoboCT in the production environment offers the advantage over conventional CT systems of achieving inspection positions on complexly shaped objects, such as a vehicle body. Researchers at Fraunhofer development center X-Ray technology EZRT in Erlangen (Germany) have developed RoboCT technology for this purpose.

The CT system was installed in close cooperation with engineers from BMW’s Research and Innovation Centre (FIZ) in Munich at the interface between development and production and went into operation in July 2018.

In this setup, four cooperating robots, which move the imaging components such as the X-ray source and detector accordingly, drive around the vehicle. This allows RoboCT to reach all positions of the vehicle. Thus, the system can generate three-dimensional CT with the detail recognizability of the size of a human hair. With this technology, the object can be examined in detail with the highest precision without damaging it. Previously, the corresponding components had to be dismantled or even sawn out for such an analysis and examined in a separate CT system. By shortening the development cycles from idea to market launch, users are able to bring products to market faster.


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