#How does it work?

The system solution reads the UPC bar code on each drink. It does an actual physical inventory of the drinks on the shelves of the cooler. It includes a robot that will travel from shelf to shelf in a cooler and a custom designed shelf based on the mechanics of the sliding number puzzle. The robot has a bar code scanner on one of its arms to read the UPC code on each can. The coasters have a rotating carousel to rotate the can, if needed to access the bar code.

# What does it measure?

It reads the UPC bar codes and reports in detail or in summary the inventory in the cooler.

Does the retailer/bottler/distributor have to do anything different to make your solution work? (if yes, please explain)

The retailer/bottler/distributor must collect the data from the robot data collection subsystem for further processing. The robot/cooler must have a power supply. The solution is a component of a larger system. System maintenance will need to be done by a service provider. The retailer/bottler/distributor will in most cases not be qualified to do maintenance and repairs to the system.

What materials does your solution require?

The solution does not required maintenance supplies or expendibles but only power. Ideally, the solution is supplied as an integral component of the cooler itself.

Best guest on cost to implement

One time development costs may be high but I would expect it to be less than $200,000 to get to a first fully functional prototype. This estimate is based on $50,000 for time for a professional engineering consultants. $50,000 for time for full time and/or part time technicians, $50,000 for off-the-shelf equipment and materials. And $50,000 for outsourced materials and components requiring custom engineering, etc.

Full development costs over the life span of the product development could be 2 to 10 times that.

Fully costed, the final solution would be less than the target $20 in volume. This target should be reached by the time volume approaches 200,000 units per year. This is "add-on" cost for the solution above the current component costs that would be eliminated.

Challenges you/your team ran into

The solution is almost entirely off-the-shelf components. The remaining challenges of software and engineering and can be developed in-house or out-sources as appropriate. The components that are 3D printed could be 3D printed until volume justifies custom injection molding capital expenditures. By that time the engineering design should be fully stable.

What you/your team learned

  1. Nothing is ever as it seems.
  2. Nothing worthwhile is easy or cheap.

Next steps

Improve the design and implementation iteratively.

Incremental improvements are anticipated going forward. Improvements should be expected in these areas: Physical structure, mechanical efficiency, power management, wire management, software objectification, kenematics, and others to-be-determined.

Anything else you want to add

To succeed this project will need to be given appropriate management control and oversight. Appropriate incentives will be needed to correlate goals and objectives from a cost point of view. If toy manufacturers can profitably produce robot toys that retail for $39.95, etc. this project is possible but cost overruns must be avoided.


The CocaCola Cooler Hack and the Sliding Number Puzzle toy that intrigued me as a child. In trying to learn how it worked, I managed to irreparably destroy the toy!

How I built it

I imagined what it would look like and drew a sketch. Then I began to put together the pieces.

Accomplishments that I'm proud of

I have designed several robots and have many career accomplishments. You can look at my LinkedIn profile for my C.V. https://www.linkedin.com/in/waynesalhany

Built With

  • arduino
  • embedded-techniques
  • mechanical-components
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