PI: Subhrajit Bhattacharya

Co-PI(s): Aparna Bharati

University: Lehigh University

Industry partner: FLX Solutions

The COVID-19 pandemic and the accompanying transition to work from home has taxed all aspects of telecommunications infrastructure. To keep up, there is a need to rapidly inspect, repair, and upgrade these systems. FLX Solutions, Inc., a PA Keystone Innovation Zone and Ben Franklin corporation, has developed a snake-like robot that enables workers to safely perform tasks in previously inaccessible areas. The FLX BOT improves worker safety while increasing uptime for companies at a price point that makes it affordable for mass deployments. A key outcome of this PITA grant is the development of machine learning-based algorithms needed for enabling intuitive and user-friendly autonomous capabilities for the FLX BOT. Learning-based algorithms will be developed for autonomous perception, mapping, map completion, localization, and navigation. These will enable workers to use the FLX BOT with minimal training allowing for rapid deployment. This project is a collaboration between research and industry through a partnership between the Mechanical Engineering and Computer Science and Engineering Departments at Lehigh University and FLX Solutions, Inc. The results of the project will enable the FLX BOT to gain the user-friendly autonomous capabilities needed for commercialization, revolutionizing the safety and efficiency of upkeep and improvements in infrastructure-related industries.