PI: Brandon Krick
Co-PI(s): Mark de Vinck
University: Lehigh University

As the facility infrastructure in the United States ages, there is a continual need to upgrade safety, electrical, and telecommunication systems. Impossible Incorporated LLC, a PA Keystone Innovation Zone company, has developed a patent pending one-inch diameter snake-like robot which is able to run wires without the mess. It will be inserted through an outlet-sized hole, then teleoperated inside the wall to the destination, drilling holes in studs and joists along the way. Then it rewinds, pulling the wires through. Other applications include inspection of critical infrastructure and hazardous areas, and aiding trapped victims following natural disasters.

It has been necessary to develop testing systems for verifying the performance of the internal components and mechanisms of the snake-like robot. Existing measurement and actuation systems are often prohibitively expensive for bootstrapping entrepreneurs and research professors working to start their programs. There is a need for tools that can match the performance of existing solutions while costing significantly less. This can be accomplished using low-cost mechatronics circuitry created for the internet of things (IoT). Inexpensive actuators can also be modified and controlled using intelligent algorithms, allowing them to match (or exceed) the performance of existing commercial systems.

The goal of this project is to continue the development of the open-source engineering tools that have been created by Impossible Incorporated LLC to lower the cost of engineering instrumentation and automation while developing the snake-like robot. They will be released to the engineering and entrepreneurship communities, allowing for new innovations that will drive economic development and innovation.

This project is a collaboration between research, industry, and technical entrepreneurship through a collaboration between the Mechanical Engineering Department and Technical Entrepreneurship Master’s Program at Lehigh University. The results of the project will enable the snake-like robot to be commercialized, revolutionizing the construction industry.