Cody Smith

Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources


Petroleum and Natural Gas Engineering

Committee Chair

Huyesin I Bilgesu

Committee Co-Chair

Samuel Ameri

Committee Member

Mark Sindelar


This project and the associated research investigates automation techniques for drilling operations, along with the analysis involved in building an automated pilot-scale drilling platform. The outcome from this research investigates feasible technologies and techniques that can be used to automate a pilot-scale drilling rig, with the intent that these practices may provide insight into the construction or procedures of full scale rigs. Both the theory and lab exercise components of this research were completed in association with the Drillbotics competition sponsored by the Drilling Systems Automation Technical Section (DSATS) committee of the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE). This study includes all calculations and research conducted during Phase 1 of the competition, which included the design and justification of a lab-scale drilling rig, as well as the construction and testing of the rig during Phase 2.;As drilling automation continues to expand within the industry, testing new technologies in a reliable and transferable manner will be extremely important to the development of a fully automated drilling platform. The intention of this research is focused less on the structural analysis of industry drilling rigs, which has been conducted numerous times in detail, and more on design and construction process for inexpensive, lab-scale rigs that companies could use to assess new automation techniques and technologies. The rig that was designed and tested for the 2015-2016 Drillbotics competition was a success, allowing the West Virginia University team to test four different drilling bits and eight different rock types, and also winning the competition by drilling the provided rock sample with the highest Rate of Penetration (ROP). As such, the Drillbotics competition served as a platform to allow this research to demonstrate the process involved in constructing a fully automated drilling rig.