Doctoral Research

From Matt Bilsky

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Entrepreneurially Minded Engineering Design and Development of a Novel Snake-like Robot

My dissertation discusses the development of a novel 1-inch snake-like robot capable of driving, drilling, seeing, and pulling wires through walls. It also has applications in space exploration and aiding trapped victims following natural disasters.

Due to Intellectual Property concerns I can only publish limited information about the project but please contact me if you would like more details.

It will ultimately be published as part of the Lehigh Preserve Dissertation

Defense Date: November 16, 2016

PhD Advisor: Dr. John B. Ochs

Committee Members: N. Duke Perreira, Brandon Krick, and Wesley Heiss

Demonstration Videos

Here is our latest video demonstrating the alpha prototype of the robot


The project was selected as a 2nd place national finalist in the 2016 Lemelson-MIT Student Invention Competition.

The video below, part of my entry, provides a brief introduction to the project:

Dissertation Abstract

Performing electrical work inside the closed walls of a building under construction is a destructive and difficult task requiring numerous holes to be cut then patched. Current automated and smart devices are unable to meet the technical challenges of the space constraints in a wall. Through the Integrated Product Development (IPD) process a patent pending 1 inch diameter snake-like robot was developed that is able to run wires through multiple wall cavities. The robot 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. At the far end wires are attached and then the robot rewinds through the wall while pulling them behind it. Other applications for the technology include locating trapped victims following natural disasters, inspection of critical infrastructure and hazardous areas, and as the next generation of robot arms for space exploration. The feasibility of the robot has been evaluated through the engineering design process. Over 30 focused prototypes of the different subsystems were built and tested. More than 40 of the robot’s components were conceptually designed with 8 different 2-stage cycloid drive gear boxes that were designed, machined, and tested leading to the invention of a novel 3-dimensional cycloidal drive that can self-lock and unlock.This project is a new student-driven program called the Entrepreneurially Minded Dissertation. The project was successfully funded through small business grant sources enabling over 40 students to participate. Intellectual Property generated was retained by the student allowing the product to be commercialized.

Recommended Citation

Bilsky, Matthew Jason, "Entrepreneurially Minded Engineering Design and Development of a Novel Snake-like Robot" (2017). Theses and Dissertations. 2518. https://preserve.lehigh.edu/etd/2518