Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Sushi Robot

This was my final year project when I was in University in 2004. I got the inspiration after looking at a comic picture of a robot arranging eating utensils. It came as a challenge to me to make something different. I tried many times to explain it to others what the project was about but I don’t think people can get it.

Here is my small article release about the project with an accompanying video right at the end:

I, Sushi Robot
by C.L Ong (BSc(Hons) Computer-Aided Engineering)

As a final year student, I was given a challenge by my supervisor to propose a robotics project that is equivalent to the standard of a final year unit. Being the typical student that I am, I began my research on the internet where I stumbled upon a website which had a picture of a robot arm arranging eating utensils to a typical family picnic layout. That is when the idea of robots and the food industry struck my mind. I researched further and before I knew it, it has become my final year project.

Robots have long been used in the food industry for processing, handling and packaging. Besides food manufacturing, robots are also used in restaurants as a source of entertainment and to help out in the kitchen. The most common restaurants that use robots will be Japanese Sushi Bars like Yo!Sushi that use robots to prepare and even serve all types of sushi.

Besides being an additional staff, robots in restaurants also act as a source of attraction. This is proven in Pan Galactic Pizza Port which is one of the three restaurants in Japan’s Disneyland. The restaurant is built around a giant, animated pizza-making machine run by a colorful robotic alien named Tony Solaroni. During fixed intervals, the restaurant comes alive with performances by the alien robot. The performances range from the robot singing to answering phone calls. I would definitely choose to go to a place like that than the regular pizza place around the corner. It would also encourage me to go out than ring up the delivery guy.

Well, let’s return back to my project where I am using a Mitsubishi Movemaster RV-M1 robot and a conveyer system to develop a restaurant robotics system. The robot is being used to serve plates of sushi onto the conveyer and then to the customer. What I am developing is not just an automated movement of the robot arm. It is a whole restaurant system with an accompanying program that tracks order and stores it in a database.

The program that I have developed is in C-language which is fairly simple to be modified by anyone who is familiar with the programming language. This further gives the program the flexibility to be modified for different purposes or use in different types of restaurant other than a Japanese Sushi Bar.

The whole system is controlled by a regular PC connected to the robot drive unit using the serial communications port. A parallel port could have also been used because the robot drive supports either connection. The drive unit also connects the teaching pendant which is used to teach the robot a particular position and store it in the memory. The coordinates of the position is later used in the program to move the robot.

I have achieved quite a lot within a short period of time with the development of my project. This would not have been possible without the help and encouragement of many. I would like to thank them all for their support. A lot of effort has been placed on to the project and hopefully the return will be rewarding. My ultimate aim is to let it change the way we use to dine in restaurants.

If you have any interest about my project or would like further details, feel free to contact me.

Benny Ong XXX

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