A British defence contractor BAE Systems is working on a technology that will make the exterior on of an aircraft to be able to detect problems before they occur.
The aim is to make the exterior of an airplane “feel” injury or damage the way human skins do.
The technology works by covering the entire body of an airplane with tens of thousands of micro-sensors that are able to detect problems before they occur.
These sensors will measure strain, movement, wind speed and temperature. According to one analyst, this technology could go far beyond military.
And Lydia Hyde, a senior research scientist who came up with the technology said the idea came to her while she was watching her tumble dryer. The tumble dryer uses a sensor to prevent overheating.
The dryer made her think on how this technology could be applied in her work and how it can be used to replace to replace the bulky and expensive sensors with cheap and miniature ones.
It has also brought her the idea that aircrafts, cars and even ship could be covered by thousands of sensors to help sense the world around them so as to monitor their condition by detecting heat, damage or stress.
The sensors could be as small as dust particles and will have their own power source. They could even be sprayed on to an airplane like paint.
A senior research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute, Jeniffer Cole, said the technology could be used to reduce airplane disasters.
She said that it could also be used in other applications like helping an equipment to report back on local environment conditions or even to enable water pipes to switch on heating elements automatically during a cold winter.
“If similar technology could be applied to cars, it could revolutionize MOT schedules and potentially reduce road accidents,” added Jeniffer.