RIT student-engineers build robotic bartender

Messenger Post Media
Monroe County Post

When Teknic challenged a co-op student team from Rochester Institute of Technology to produce a machine that would use its motion and I/O controller called ClearCore, team members responded with a robotic bartender that automates the drink-making process.

Undergraduates from RIT’s Kate Gleason College of Engineering and Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences worked during the summer and fall through required co-op experiences with the company.

“The robotic bartender is a mix of fun and serious engineering,” Teknic director Abe Amirana said. 

The robotic bartender is capable of producing thousands of mixed drink combinations. Users can interact with the bartender through a touch screen interface, browse a menu, vary combinations and place an order.

“RIT has a really good emphasis on group work and communications,” said Carter Miller, a mechanical engineering major who did one block at Teknic as a co-op and accepted an offer to work with the company. “That proved invaluable when working with an interdisciplinary team trying to complete a sophisticated automated machine of this nature in a short period of time.

“My education in 3D solid modeling was also really valuable. The machine space constraints were tight and because we modeled the entire system in 3D CAD, we uncovered several internal interferences which would have delayed the entire program by weeks had they not been caught before releasing parts.”

The team was made up of mechanical, electrical, computer and software engineering students.

Brandon Key, a software engineer with Teknic, is a graduate of RIT’s computer engineering program. He and project teammates Alex Amari and Cody Burrows, both computing science majors, helped coordinate the robotic bartender’s multiple system devices. All were hired by Teknic.

“In the software design, we had to deal with multiple input streams, so the state machine design to time slice everything was critical,” Key said. “My coursework in embedded systems was helpful in this exercise.”

RIT’s cooperative education program is offered to students to apply what they have learned in the classroom through meaningful work experience opportunities. Students participate over the course of several semesters in different industries and responsibility areas, as well as in research centers at the university.

“At Teknic, we have a strong commitment and loyalty to the co-op program,” Amirana said. “We had a successful 2020, a most difficult year for many, and we were able to honor our commitments to the program and the students.”

Engineering and computer science students who worked at Teknic developed a robotic bartender to model how electronic equipment can be integrated with the company’s newest technology.