Senior research scientist Lydia Hyde at BAE Systems has invented a design for the entire body of an aircraft to enable it to 'feel' damage or deterioration in much the same way as human skin.
When we suffer injury, we feel pain to alert us. Hyde's system will cover the whole exterior of a plane with thousands of micro-sensors, which will forewarn of problems before they get out of hand.
The sensors are designed to measure wind speed, temperature, strain and movement, and will be so small they can be sprayed onto a plane like paint. While the obvious use of the system would be for military planes, an analyst told the BBC that the innovation could prove useful "far beyond the military".
"observing how a simple sensor can be used to stop a domestic appliance overheating got me thinking about how this could be applied to my work..."
The idea came to Hyde while watching her tumble dryer. She was inspired by the sensor that is installed to prevent overheating.
She told the BBC, "observing how a simple sensor can be used to stop a domestic appliance overheating got me thinking about how this could be applied to my work and how we could replace bulky, expensive sensors with cheap, miniature, multi-functional ones."
"This in turn led to the idea that aircraft, or indeed cars and ships, could be covered by thousands of these motes creating a 'smart skin' that can sense the world around them and monitor their condition by detecting stress, heat or damage."
Why The U.S Government Will Love Stanford's Robo-Bug
The Biggest Secret In Space Is About To Land!
Did Ukraine Just Declare War With A Hashtag?
4 High Tech Weapons That The US Is Using To Fight ISIS
This Insect-Inspired Drone Is Being Used In Afghanistan
Stuck in a disaster? PowerCube Will Keep The Lights On
4 Best Ever German Tech Inventions
4 Scary Military Robots That You Don’t Want To Piss Off
7 Strange Things That You Wouldn't Believe Samsung Made
A Camera That Sees Around Corners
The 5 Best Wireless Headphones in 2018
How to get the coolest Black Friday and Cyber Monday tech deals
Spyzie, the trustworthy smartphone monitoring tool for parental control
IFA 2018: The top 3 tech trends of the year