Rolls-Royce is well known for its luxury automobiles, but we sometimes overlook the fact that the UK-based manufacturer is heavy in aerospace. But based on the latest tech news from the company, it’s going to be hard to forget just how big of a player Rolls-Royce plans to be in the advancement of the jet engine.
At the recent Singapore Air Show, we heard from Rolls-Royce on its latest efforts towards creating a smarter airplane engine. The company says next-generation turbines will be able to communicate with one another in order to help improve in-air operation, safety, and efficiency. When weather changes warrant an adjustment, smart turbines should be able to adjust to reduce drag and improve fuel economy.
The company’s director for customers, Dominic Horwood, told a group at the Air Show that Rolls-Royce predicts engines that are “contextually aware and even comprehending.” He also said there could even be a time when they can “self-heal” after detecting their own issues and deploying robotic fixes in-flight. This prospect might be equal parts cool and terrifying.
Coming off Singapore, Rolls made an even bigger splash on its home turf of Derby, England, when it tested its ALECSys – or, Advanced Low Emissions Combustion System – which is considered a “lean burn” approach, with lower NOx and particulate emissions. The run was lauded as a successful implementation within the Trent 1000 engine, which also featured other new technology from Rolls-Royce, such as a new gearbox and engine core.