While most of us live in a world where the once ubiquitous Raspberry Pi is now as rare as chicken teeth, there’s a magical place where they have so many Pis that they had to build a robot dispenser to collect Pi orders. And to make matters worse, they even built this magical machine with a Raspberry Pi. The horror.
This magical place? Australia of course. There is no date posted on the Pi Australia article linked above, but it does mention that there is a Pi 4 Model B running the show so that at least makes it recent. Stock is stored in a series of tilted bins that allow a shuttle mechanism to be accessed through an XY gantry. The shuttle docks in front of a bin and uses a stepper-controlled finger to spin a box over the lip that holds them in the bin. Once in the shuttle, the order is transported to a series of output bins, where a servo operates a valve to unceremoniously dump the product for packaging and shipping. There’s a video of a full cycle below, but a word of warning: the stepper motors on the XY gantry really scream, so you may want to turn the volume down.
The article not only takes a closer look at the construction of “Bishop” – named after the heroic synthetic organism of Aliens – but also the challenges the construction faces. It turns out that even if you try to use gravity to simplify a system like this, it can go wrong very easily. There is also quite a bit of detail about the software, which surprisingly revolves around LinuxCNC. And there are plans to take this further, with another bot to do the packaging, sealing and labeling of the order. If they need all that automation down there, we think we’ve found all the missing Pis.
Thanks to [Nick owen] for the tip.