PITTSBURGH - A robotic paint-stripping system being developed by Carnegie Mellon University's National Robotics Engineering Center (NREC) and Concurrent Technologies Corp. (CTC) of Johnstown, PA, was named a Gold winner in the materials science category of the 2013 Edison Awards.

The Laser Coating Removal System uses high-powered lasers mounted on mobile robotic platforms to remove paint and coatings from aircraft. NREC and CTC are developing the system for the U.S. Air Force. NREC is building six autonomous mobile robots, which will each be equipped with a high-power laser coating remover developed by CTC. As part of a two-year project, the robots will be deployed in teams to remove paint and other coatings from aircraft at Hill Air Force Base in northern Utah.

The laser coating remover eliminates the need for abrasives or chemical paint removers, which generate hazardous waste and air emissions. The autonomous mobile robots make it possible to automate and precisely control the stripping process, while protecting workers' eyes from hazardous laser light.