My inspiration for this project came from a Roomba that my friend has. I thought that because my friend had a Roomba, the time required to clean the house could be reallocated to productivity. I thought that the same concept of automation and reallocation of time could be applied to helping the vaccine rollout. If we could automate menial tasks, such as the distribution of medications, nurses in hospitals could dedicate more time to tasks of higher importance, especially vaccinations during the pandemic.
What it does
It is designed to help nurses working in hospitals deliver medications to patients without ever coming in close contact with them. With a built-in line sensor, integrated speakers, and dual distance sensors, the Pillbot can navigate any layout of a hospital and avoid any obstacle with only the help of only a line. In addition, its integrated speakers allow nurses to remotely give instructions to patients. The Pillbot is also constructed out of sturdy veneer, standard metal brackets, and PETG plastic, which allow the Pillbot to be mass-produced at extremely low prices.
How we built it
I built this project at my school's engineering lab in a day with laser-cut wood, metal brackets, and a Raspberry Pi. By making a simple base plate with the laser cutter, I could use a drill bit to drill holes for screws if necessary. For the coding portion, I used python on the RPi and used the built-in Adafruit motor library to power and control 2 motors. For the path on the ground, I taped black tape on the ground and made some intersections and "nodes" (a piece of perpendicular tape on the end of a path) to guide it.
Challenges we ran into
Some challenges that were encountered were lack of supplies and lack of time. During the time I spent constructing my robot, our engineering lab ran out of wood to laser-cut so I tried to improvise by substituting the wood with foam board, but the foam board was too weak so I could not make the top pill holder for the robot. Along with the top pill holder, I also could not make a triple ultrasonic sensor stand to mount on the robot, but luckily, I was able to 3d print a piece with PETG plastic within 6 hours. Furthermore, if I had more time, then I would be able to further optimize my code so turns run smoother and the robot runs faster.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
I'm proud that I was able to challenge myself to use new and different coding approaches that I have not used in the past. During the testing phase for my robot, I was very proud that I could get my robot to work in such a short period of time.
What we learned
I learned that it is very important to have sufficient materials and also make every second count while working on a tight time restraint. Especially when my part was 3d printing, I took the time to thoroughly think through my code and then implement the code into my robot.
What's next for Pillbot
Our next steps would probably be to continue building and testing our prototype, optimizing our prototype code, and once everything is well optimized and prepared, we can manufacture a final product. This product can then be implemented in hospitals around the world as it only takes a maximum of 50 dollars to manufacture 1 unit.