It’s Pi All The Way Down With This Pi-Powered Pi-Picking Robot

While most of us live in a world where the once ubiquitous Raspberry Pi is now as rare as hens’ teeth, there’s a magical place where they’ve got so many Pis that they needed to build a robotic dispenser to pick Pi orders. And to add insult to injury, they even built this magical machine using a Raspberry Pi. The horror.

This magical place? Australia, of course. There’s no date posted on the Pi Australia article linked above, but it does mention that there’s a Pi 4 Model B running the show, so that makes it at least recent-ish. Stock is stored in an array of tilted bins that a shuttle mechanism accesses via an X-Y gantry. The shuttle docks in front of a bin and uses a stepper-controlled finger to flip a box over the lip holding them in its bin. Once in the shuttle, the order is transported to an array of output bins, where a servo operates a flap to unceremoniously dump the product out for packing and shipping. There’s a video of a full cycle below, but a word of warning — the stepper motors on the X-Y gantry really scream, so you might want to lower the volume.

The article goes into more detail on not only the construction of “Bishop” — named after the heroic synthetic organism from Aliens — but also the challenges faced during construction. It turns out that even when you try to use gravity to simplify a system like this, things can go awry very easily. There’s also a fair bit of detail on the software, which surprisingly centers around LinuxCNC. And there are plans to take this further, with another bot to do the packing, sealing, and labeling of the order. If they need all that automation down there, we guess we found all the missing Pis.

Thanks to [Nick owen] for the tip.

14 thoughts on “It’s Pi All The Way Down With This Pi-Powered Pi-Picking Robot

    1. The UK RS website also allows you to add them to your cart and then tells you
      “Available to back order for despatch 29/09/2023”
      I’m on a few nottification lists for stock and all I have managed to get in three years is a couple of RPiZ2Ws.

      1. As annoying as it has been, this site actually seems to be helpful in locating some when it is restocked, at normal retail prices and tells you what country has them in stock as well.

        But yes, stock of RPi has been horribly low or just sold out in many places for the last year or so.

  1. Would be great if articles that talk about the supply issues with Raspberry Pis could go further in depth to explain why they disappeared and why they won’t be coming back any time soon.

    That’s right folks, don’t hold your breath for a return of cheap SOCs that can be had by the likes of everyday consumers. Russia is mobilizing and chips are a critical component in modern weapons of war, so wartime rationing of these components is pretty much inevitable.

    It’s time to move on and start powering your projects with something else. Or get a job with a defense contractor.

    1. [citation needed]

      Of the several issues affecting the semiconductor supply chain, this one is news to me. Weapons don’t generally generally use civilian parts, even the US defence industry isn’t fabs’ main customer, and Russia probably can’t source baby formula from Taiwan atm.

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