Drink Runner is a line-following service robot that delivers individual drinks in total darkness non-stop for up to 4 hours per charge.
Drink Runner is a line-following service robot that delivers individual drinks in total darkness non-stop for up to 4 hours per charge. Read more
About this project
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LineBot’s mission is to disrupt the service industry by manufacturing inexpensive, easy-to-use, durable robots to run food and drinks to guests.
WHAT IS A “RUNNER”?
In restaurant jargon, a “runner” is a specialized type of food server responsible for delivering meals and getting drinks for guests. In addition to increasing efficiency, they also help to free up the waitperson, so they can focus more on customer service.
WHAT IS DRINK RUNNER?
Drink Runner is a line-following service robot that delivers individual drinks in total darkness non-stop for up to 4 hours per charge. Swarms of them act like a conveyor belt, shuttling drinks along a closed-loop course.
WHY DRINK RUNNER IS AWESOME?
3 BUILT-IN PROGRAMS
Drink Runner delivers drinks on a looped course, like a conveyor belt.
Drink Runner delivers drinks from point-to-point.
Drink Runner plays our version of the classic game Spin-the-Bottle.
THE PERFECT ICE-BREAKER
Want an easy way to meet people? Take Drink Runner to your favorite bar and play Spinner. Everyone will notice and want to join in!
A PRACTICAL DIVERSION
When your kitchen or bar is in the weeds and you see that guests are beginning to get frustrated, send out Drink Runner! Like Joe’s Crab Shack waiters dancing on tables, Drink Runner will divert your guests’ attention long enough for you to catch up.
SELL MORE DRINKS
For business owners, automated drink delivery means a more efficient bar and more drink sales. Less waiting = more drinking = bigger tabs = better tips.
QUICK SET UP
To create a closed-loop course, apply ¾” wide black electrical tape to any available flat surface. Drink Runner will follow it, indoors or out. Perfect for patios and pools!
EASY TO USE
To load and unload drinks, block Drink Runner's path to stop it and remove the obstacle to let it go. What could be easier?
SOFT START / SOFT STOP FEATURE
Drink Runner decelerates smoothly to a complete stop when it detects an obstacle in its path and accelerates smoothly to full speed once that object has been removed.
Since it's only 4" wide, Drink Runner can operate on a standard bar top without interfering with guests.
Drink Runner's 6 AA NiMH batteries power it for up to 4 hours per charge and can be recharged up to 1000 times.
Because it sees in the infrared spectrum, Drink Runner can follow a line and detect obstacles in total darkness. Perfect for dark clubs, bars and restaurants!
Drink Runner may look delicate, but it’s built for daily use. Its impact-resistant polycarbonate shell protects it against accidental falls and spilled drinks.
Be creative! Write your own programs using a free Integrated Development Environment (e.g. Atmel Studio 6.0) and install them using an AVR USB Programmer.
FILM / PHOTOGRAPHY
Want to make smooth tracking shots close to a surface? Drink Runner makes an excellent dolly!
Looking for an inexpensive way to shuttle materials from point to point? Drink Runner can function like pneumatic tube system, but at a fraction of the cost!
For Drink Runner to be functional for daily use, we determined that it must be able to meet or exceed the following Performance Benchmarks:
- Support a payload of at least one (1) lb. (“Load”).
- Rotate 360 degrees clockwise and counter-clockwise under Load for Calibration.
- Move forward under Load.
- Turn 90 degrees right & left under Load without rolling or pitching more than a few degrees from vertical.
- Turn 180 degrees under Load without rolling or pitching more than a few degrees from vertical.
- Stop under Load without pitching more than a few degrees from vertical.
- Operate continuously under Load for at least 4 hours per charge.
Creating Drink Runner required us to create and test a number of working prototypes to determine whether they could meet and exceed the Performance Benchmarks.
The process began with creating a basic design for Drink Runner in AutoCAD. Next, we would source and acquire small quantities of an electrical or mechanical component.
Once in hand, we would modify the design to accommodate that component.
We would then consult with our injection molding company to confirm that the modified shape could be recreated using their manufacturing process.
Finally, we would generate a prototype shell using a 3D printer and mate it with our custom drive unit, a printed circuit board containing a C-programmable ATmega328 microcontroller; 2 micro metal gear motors & wheels; and 5 infrared reflectance sensors.
Once assembled, we would record videos of Drink Runner performing obstacle avoidance, strength, and endurance tests and upload the results to YouTube.
After numerous design cycles, we finally produced a Drink Runner which met and exceeded all of the Performance Benchmarks and could be manufactured economically.
It took us close to a year to take the Drink Runner concept from design to the final working prototype you see in our project video.
Drink Runner’s shell, ballast cover, fork, and wheel will be formed by injecting polycarbonate into a steel mold. If requested, each part will be Chromed using a trivalent Chrome plating process.
Drink Runner’s drive unit is produced by automated soldering of a variety of surface mounted devices to a printed circuit board which is then soldered to a 6 AA battery holder; a DC barrel jack; and a servo cable with a 3-pin female connector.
Drink Runner will be assembled in-house using a little glue; a screwdriver; a hex key; and a nut driver.
LineBot Inc. is an international group of craftsmen, programmers, and engineers who are on a mission to design and manufacture inexpensive, easy-to-use, durable robots for the service industry.
WHERE’S THE MONEY GOING?
WHAT’S THE PLAN?
We’ve been working closely with a local injection molding company which has a manufacturing facility in China. All of our other component suppliers are located in the U.S. and most of them have sufficient parts in inventory to produce 350 units. Once we reach our goal, we are ready to begin production immediately. Here are our next steps:
- Activate customer service team and update backers.
- Begin tooling and update backers.
- Obtain supplies and packaging and update backers.
- Stage parts and assembly and update backers.
- Generate fulfillment tickets and label and update backers.
- Ship rewards and update backers.
WHAT COLORS DOES IT COME IN?
WHAT SIZE DRINKS DOES IT HOLD?
Drink Runner fits most cans, bottles, and glassware.
HOW CAN IT CARRY SUCH HEAVY LOADS?
Drink Runner makes carrying drinks look easy, but it has 3 unique features which makes this possible:
- Our custom swivel caster virtually eliminates all third wheel drag.
- Our custom drive motors are geared to deliver lots of low-end torque.
- Our perfectly balanced shell and rigid suspension virtually eliminate all roll and pitch.
HOW CAN IT FUNCTION IN TOTAL DARKNESS?
Drink Runner's Line Following and Distance Sensors emit infrared light and then detect that light when it's reflected back from objects around it.
HOW DO I CHARGE IT?
Our custom international Smart Charger will charge Drink Runner's 6 AA NiMH batteries in about 4 hours. Before charging, connect the Smart Charger to an AC wall outlet (90V – 260V). Then, insert its male barrel connector into the DC barrel jack beneath Drink Runner's tail. A Red LED will turn on to indicate that it’s charging. When fully charged, the Green LED will turn on and it will stop charging automatically.
HOW DO I PREVENT GUESTS FROM TAKING IT?
We recommend installing a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tag in each unit and concealing an RFID Reader and a surveillance camera near each exit. When a tagged unit leaves your premises, the RFID Reader triggers an alarm and the camera records the event for later prosecution.
HOW DO I CREATE A LOOPED COURSE?
First, Locate a smooth, flat, light-colored surface. White is preferable, but not required. Then, using ¾” wide black electrical tape, lay down a continuous line which loops back upon itself. Avoid creating hard right-angle turns. Finally, make sure the line passes by an area dedicated to loading drinks, such as a kitchen or service bar.
Since Drink Runners are only 4” wide, we recommend that you allow 3" of clearance on either side of the line.
CAN YOU DESIGN A LOOPED COURSE FOR ME?
CAN I RUN MULTIPLE DRINK RUNNERS ON THE SAME LOOPED COURSE?
Yes, so long as they are all moving in the same direction.
WILL A DRINK RUNNER COLLIDE WITH ANOTHER UNIT?
No. Drink Runner's Obstacle Avoidance System would stop it before such a collision could occur.
HOW DO I LOAD AND REMOVE DRINKS?
Each Drink Runner has a Distance Sensor which detects objects up to 10cm away (“Obstacle Avoidance System”). When you place your hand in its path, Drink Runner will stop and turn on its lights. Once stopped, you may load or remove a drink. When you remove your hand, Drink Runner will turn off its lights and continue on its way.
WHAT HAPPENS IF I SPILL A DRINK ON IT?
In the event of an accidental spill, turn off Drink Runner and wipe off the shell. Apply Isopropyl alcohol to a clean, dry towel and wipe the shell to remove any residual fluids. Allow to dry. DO NOT IMMERSE IN WATER.
HOW WILL GUESTS DISTINGUISH ONE UNIT FROM ANOTHER?
If you give each Drink Runner a unique appearance, guests will be able to identify them from a distance. Since it’s difficult to discern colors in low light, we recommend you use numbers, letters, or symbols.
CAN YOU CUSTOMIZE A SET OF DRINK RUNNERS FOR ME?
Yes. Here are some motifs to choose from:
- 3 - Primary Colors: Red, Green, Blue
- 3 - U.S. Flag Colors: Red, White, Blue
- 3 - High Contrast Colors: Red, White, Black
- 4 - Elements: Earth, Air, Fire, Water
- 4 - Baseball Diamond: 1st Base, 2nd Base, 3rd Base, Home Plate
- 4 - Card Suits: Spade, Heart, Club, Diamond
- 4 - Top Cards: Ace of Spades, King of Clubs, Queen of Hearts, Jack of Diamonds
- 5 - Sports: Football, Baseball, Basketball, Soccer, Ice Hockey
- 5 - Zener ESP Testing Cards: Circle, Plus, 3 Wavy Lines, Square, Star
- 7 - Disney’s 7 Dwarves: Bashful, Doc, Dopey, Grumpy, Happy, Sleepy, Sneezy
- 7 - Colors of the Visible Spectrum: Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet
- 8 - Animal Skins: Tiger, Zebra, Giraffe, Leopard, Dalmation, Peacock, Snake, Crocodile
- 10 - Bowling Pins
- 12 - Zodiac Signs
- 15 - Billiard Balls
- 16 - Top Cards in All Suits
- Sports Teams
- Disney Characters
- Custom Graphics
HOW WILL A GUEST KNOW WHICH DRINK RUNNER IS CARRYING THEIR ORDER?
Once you've loaded a drink onto a unit, just tell the guest which Drink Runner to look for.
HOW DO I TRACK DRINK DELIVERIES?
When operating multiple units, we recommend appointing an attendant to supervise operations and track drink deliveries.
HOW DO I PLAY SPINNER?
- Position Drink Runner in the middle of a table.
- [Optional] Insert a prize of your choice.
- Press the Spinner Button once to select the Spinner Program.
- A confirmation tone will acknowledge your selection.
- Press this button again.
- Another confirmation tone will alert you that Drink Runner is ready to begin.
- To begin the game, wave your hand in front of the Distance Sensor.
- Drink Runner will emit a confirmation tone and begin spinning.
- Drink Runner will spin for 5 – 10 seconds.
- Drink Runner will stop and pause for 3 seconds and then turn 90 degrees to the right or left.
- The player facing LineBot wins!
- To end the program, press the Stop Button once.
Risks and challenges
RISKS & CHALLENGES
We have a sufficient inventory of components necessary to assemble 350 Drink Runners and can easily acquire more if demand requires it. However, there are 2 components which may pose a challenge.
Drink Runner requires 6 AA NiMH batteries to function. Prior to operation, the User inserts them into a plastic battery tray inside Drink Runner. Unless we place a large order for this component, our supplier can’t guarantee he’ll have more than 350 units in inventory.
In the event we need more battery trays, we’ll either rely on another supplier or install a more commonly available battery pack constructed of 6 AA NiMH batteries wired together and shrink-wrapped into a single bundle.
Having inspected samples manufactured by our injection molding company, we’re satisfied that they produce high quality components.
In the event they produce components which are of substandard quality, we have 2 other firms standing by to produce them for us. However, this would delay our project by approximately 60 days.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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