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Robotics/automation: automated liquid dispensation

Advanced automated biotech company - project 2

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Closed Posted: 02 Jul 20. Closes: 23 Jul 20 Available: Semester 2 (Jul - Nov)

Semester 2 2020 project

UQ Engineering students only 

This project is for a UQ final year or Masters student in Mechatronics Engineering with an interest in robotics and automation.

The successful applicant will receive a $3,000 scholarship + academic credit for enrolment/assessment (4 unit final year thesis / 4 unit Masters project).  You must be available to work on the project onsite for 3 days/week during Semester 2 2020 (around lecture timetable). 

APPLICANTS NOTE: upload your resume with unofficial academic transcript/s (undergrad + Masters if applicable - combined into 1 doc/pdf). Also include your student ID number. Upload resume before OR after applying for project/s.  

UQ ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENT: all CEED applicants must get a written study plan approved (by a UQ academic advisor) which shows thesis/project unit enrolment is possible for Semester 2 2020.

We cannot progress your application until you provide this info to CEED (please email to CEED before the project's application close date). Advise CEED if you need assistance or are experiencing delays in receiving an approved study plan.

Location: Noosaville (Northern Sunshine Coast) QLD
Category: Mechatronics Engineering

Project Background / Description

After use, laboratory bottles need to be sterilised and refilled with accurate amounts of water and media mixture. The amount of water must be precision delivered within 1ml and media within 0.1ml. Each bottle may require different concentrations of water and media which must be recorded and tracked as the starting conditions of an experiment. With several hundred bottles to fill, this process is very time consuming and prone to human error.


** company name is confidential at this stage **

This company is working in an exciting field. Their work is commercially sensitive - therefore we are only advertising limited details.

Students who are selected for an interview will receive further information about the company and their technology.

Objectives / Tasks / Project Outcomes

Success criteria

  • A standalone unit for dispensing two different liquids to multiple bottles (at least 30)

  • Dispenser accurately aligns with the mouth of the bottle regardless of the bottle size, and identifies its volume

  • Dispenser applies a label to the bottle based on a generated bottle ID

  • Dispenser will release water with 1ml accuracy up to 1L at a rate no less than 1L/m, and media with 0.1ml accuracy at a rate no less than 10ml/S

  • Dispenser publishes bottle ID, water dispensed and media dispensed via a POST request to a service (provided)

  • Dispenser receives instructions as to how many bottles, at what concentrations and at what sizes via Web Socket or receiving a POST request

  • Gantry system operation is flexible enough to be:
    • Paused, resumed and stopped
    • Fill an any number of bottles up to a practical maximum


Suggested resources / approach

  • You may like to consider a set size gantry and purchase a cartesian extrusion from Aliexpress, using computer vision to identify the bottles and align to them on a bench. Alternatively, you may like to consider a fixed in place single filling station with automated inserting, filling and removing of glass bottles from a stacked number of bottles
  • You may like to consider using 3D printer software and hardware such as GCODE and one of the many Arduino based MOSFET controller boards
  • You should not consider any actions time-based and instead utilise a closed-loop feedback system with sensors to be sure of the actions that have taken place such as using a
    • Flow meter
    • Weight sensor
    • Distance sensor
    • Camera
  • You may like to refer to post-mix beverage systems and other non-automated dispensers
  • You may spend up to $1500 in hardware
  • We have 3 x Creality CR10s Pro 3D printers that can be used for printing oversize parts if necessary
  • We have a well-appointed electronics workshop for you to be able to work from
  • You may wish to use peristaltic pumps for media delivery to maintain sterile lines


Limitations / considerations

  • All electronics software used must be allowed for commercial purposes
  • Use Raspberry Pi or and/or Arduino or embedded C (not PIC or STM32). We recommend the combination of ESP32 and ATMega 2560 boards for communications and control
  • Be careful not to break the glass bottles- lab equipment uses expensive specialty glassware

Skills / Experience Required

  • 3D modelling in Fusion 360
  • Embedded programming in Arduino or embedded C
  • Programming on the Raspberry PI in NodeJS or Python
  • Hands on assembly of both electronics and aluminium extrusions etc

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