A robotic paint-stripping system being developed by Carnegie Mellon University's National Robotics Engineering Center and Concurrent Technologies Corporation of Johnstown, Pa., was named a Gold winner in the materials science category of the 2013 Edison Awards, announced April 25 at an awards ceremony in Chicago.
The Advanced Robotic Laser Coating Removal System (ARLCRS) uses high-powered lasers mounted on mobile robotic platforms to remove paint and coatings from aircraft. NREC and CTC are developing the system for the U.S. Air Force. NREC is building six autonomous mobile robots, which will each be equipped with a high-power laser coating remover developed by CTC. As part of a two-year project, the robots will be deployed in teams to remove paint and other coatings from aircraft at Hill Air Force Base in northern Utah.
The laser coating remover eliminates the need for abrasives or chemical paint removers, which generate significant hazardous wastes and air emissions. The autonomous mobile robots make it possible to automate and precisely control the stripping process, while protecting workers' eyes from hazardous laser light.
The NREC team includes Tony Stentz, NREC director and the principal investigator, and Stuart Lawrence, project manager. Jim Arthur is principal process engineer and project manager for CTC.
Another CMU startup, Neon, won the bronze in the computer and electronics category. Based on research out of the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition (CNBC), Neon uses neuroscience to improve online video clicks and recently secured VC funding.