Recently, we shared a video of a Rolls-Royce Trent XWB turbofan being assembled. As is evident in the video, the company is on the cutting edge of manufacturing and engineering technology. That was confirmed once again, as the Rolls-Royce team has released a video discussing their new intelligent engine platform. While currently only theoretical at this point, the advancement of this technology could have widespread applications in all internal-combustion engine applications.
The new Rolls-Royce proposed intelligent engine design borders on something that would be scoffed at as mere science-fiction only a few years ago. An information-sharing connection would exist between not only other engines within its local system, but also to ground-based weather stations, the control tower, and even the airline’s home system via satellite connection.
Thanks to advancements not only in wireless communications technology, but those in “Big Data” as well, the engine would be “contextually aware” – that is to say it would not only know whether it was currently operating within its ideal internal parameters of speed, temperature, and fuel consumption, but also the external parameters like performance efficiency based on the mission, and projected maintenance issues.
Speaking of maintenance issues, the theoretical new intelligent engine would be self-aware at a level that would make the current OBD system look like an Apple IIe compared to a current supercomputer. Rolls-Royce has even gone so far as to imagine that with future advancements in micro- and nanorobotics, that the intelligent engine could even be self-repairing.
With the integrated communications network combined with machine learning, problems could be identified and addressed before actually becoming a failure, while the information from the whole fleet’s operation could lead to accelerated product advancements and refinements.
At this point, you are probably wondering why this is on EngineLabs, and the simple fact is, that technology is accelerating at an exponential pace, and once the heavy-lifting is done by companies like Rolls-Royce, we wouldn’t be surprised to see some of the technology enter the automotive marketplace. Maybe not the self-repairing aspects, but honestly, an intelligent, communications-enabled ECU doesn’t seem outside the realm of possibility in the near-future. The real question is, who is going to be the first one to come out with a tune for it?