Luke team designing two AI robots to make flight line ops more safe, efficient

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Mason Hargrove
  • 56th Fighter Wing

LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. – The Luke Air Force Base Spark Cell team is designing two new autonomous robots to enhance flightline operations, taking the 56th Fighter Wing’s next step into the world of artificial intelligence.

These autonomous robots, one a tool delivery robot and the other a foreign object debris removal robot are projected to release in early 2026. These robots will enhance flightline operations by saving time, increasing safety, and improving the energy efficiency of Airmen working on the flightline.

“The process is now more streamlined for our maintainers, reducing the need for manpower and saving both time and effort,” said Master Sgt. John Brown, 56th Maintenance Group wing avionics manager. “Our Airmen are dedicated, and we’re always looking for ways to minimize unnecessary time expenditure.”

With these automated systems performing tasks that traditionally required manual labor, Airmen can redirect their focus toward more critical, high-value tasks, thereby enhancing overall productivity and operational readiness.

The FOD robot plays a crucial role in mitigating the risks associated with foreign object damage, one of the leading causes of aircraft incidents.

“If I’m out on the flightline and forget a tool, now I don’t have to waste time returning to retrieve it,” said Master Sgt. Joseph Blahut, 372nd Training Squadron production superintendent. “With the FOD robot, what used to occupy two maintainers for hours now frees up that manpower for other tasks.”

Currently, the robots are undergoing rigorous beta testing at Luke AFB. This phase is critical for assessing functionality, identifying potential improvements, and ensuring that the robots meet the high standards required for military applications.

Luke AFB will be the first to benefit from this deployment. The success of this initial rollout will likely influence the broader adoption of similar technologies across other bases.

The deployment of these robots marks a leap towards a modernized innovative force, allowing Luke AFB to continue training the world’s greatest fighter pilots and combat-ready Airmen.