Lisbon-based designer Guilherme Martins was tasked with building a robot that could customize Kit Kats according to user’s drawings. The idea was that people could approach an interactive Kit Kat booth, draw an image on a tablet, and upload it to a robot, which then transfers the image onto the candy bar using different flavored toppings. Suffice it to say, it wasn’t an easy task, but Martins and his team were able to pull it off with the help of (now defunct) Jibo and an industrial robotic arm.
Jibo was used to give their “Toppi” robot a humanized presence, rather than being a cold, expressionless candy-making robot. Merging Jibo with a robotic arm was a difficult process and involved tearing down the tiny robot to gain access to its electronics and DC motors. The team retained Jibo’s necessary parts to interface with the robotic arm — including its encoder, IR sensor, and slip-ring rotating joint, which allows the electronics to be wired together with independently moving joints.
To interface with all of Toppi’s devices and get them to communicate with each other, the team outfitted each with Phidgets modules — each equipped with an encoder port and PID, enabling them to control the DC motors for each joint easily. To place an image on the Kit Kat bar, the team designed an extruder similar to a 3D printers by using a stepper motor that squeezes a syringe filled with topping flavors.
Since the makers of Jibo are all but gone, the team wasn’t able to use the company’s SDK, which was needed to control Toppi. As a result, the team chose to replace Jibo’s brain with a LattePanda. This let them use Unity3D for the robots facial expressions, a C# program to interface with the Phidgets, and Maestro to handle the drawing app. A complete walkthrough on how Toppi was designed and constructed can be found on the team’s Artica webpage.