In another example of how artificial intelligence (AI) and automation might help reduce carbon emissions, Norse Atlantic Airways is building a giant robot to help clean its lanes.
Scanning, de-icing and cleaning
In partnership with Avinxt, and supported by Canrig and Siemens, an AI software and camera system is being developed, which, according to a Norse press release, has the capacity “to scan aircraft for damage to the fuselage,” as well as spot “any damage to the airframe with extreme precision within a few hours, compared to current processes that take up to several weeks.”
As well as conducting this technical inspection, the robot will be able to remove snow and ice from narrow and wide-body aircraft, in addition to cleaning both the fuselage and engines. De-icing and cleaning fluids will also be able to be collected and recycled on-site by Avinxt, reducing soil and ground water contamination.
Why is cleaning so important?
The importance of technical inspections for damage is not hard to explain and making them easier and more efficient is not a hard sell. But many might be surprised to realise that a clean plane is also vital to minimise wear-and-tear, reduce maintenance costs by catching issues early, and even “just” to reduce air resistance, which can save up to two per cent of fuel. This goes for engine cleanliness as well as the exterior of the craft.
Launched in 2021, Norse styles itself as a low-cost, long-haul carrier that has hung its hat on its green credentials. Its fleet of 15 “modern, fuel-efficient and more environmentally friendly Boeing 787 Dreamliners” serves destinations including New York, Los Angeles, Orlando, Washington, Boston, Jamaica, Barbados, Bangkok, Miami, Oslo, London, Berlin, Rome and Paris. It also recently flew to the South Pole.
The airline already boasts that its combination of high passenger numbers and the way it configures its Dreamliner cabins, “delivers one of the industry’s lowest per passenger emissions”. Now it is taking that reputation further. The partnership with Avinxt and the new AI inspection and cleaning bot could reduce that carbon footprint even further – by as much four per cent, the airline claims.
“We are always keen to explore intuitive partners and find solutions to automise and streamline our operations allowing us to be more efficient, punctual and cost-effective, particularly during winter operations,” said the airline’s Chief Operating Officer, Thom-Arne Norheim.
London Gatwick debut?
Manufacturing of the gigantic cleaning bot will take place initially in Oslo but launch is planned for Norse’s London Gatwick hub, according to Avinxt CEO and Chairperson Ove Trøen, who added, “There is no reason why airports, airlines, the air force and ground handlers should continue with manual, time-consuming and expensive processes, when we can do it faster, better, more environmentally friendly [sic] and more cost-effective [sic] by using new technology, said Trøen.