Let's Make Robots!

Project: Inventory management & object dispencer

Hello, (and please bare with me as English isn't my native language)
For my business I find myself having to manage and manipulate many small light objects from my inventory. My interest would be to build myself a relatively simple system to automate most of the procedure. So I've come to seek you guys experience for input and tips on how to do this the most efficiently.

The objects being small (at most an inch long) I've thought of storing them in a vertical wall of open compartments which a small robotic device going around the surface of the wall to retrieve them.

For the device movements I've figured 2 solutions :
- either have it placed on an axis which will itself will move (thus giving me the x:y access)
- Or have it on a cable structure like a vertical xy plotter system (akin to this : Vertical xy plotter drawing an SVG on my bedroom wall)

The objects being lightweight and hard to grasp with certainty I've figured that I'd use the fact that they are magnetizable. So a small arm would come and activate then retreat and disactivate thus letting the object fall in an awaiting container under the device.
I'd probably also need a small light sensor system to verify if I'd indeed captured the object during the retrieval procedure.

All of this controlled preferably through a wifi connection to my program & its database.

I'm conscious that this is going to be a lot more complicated to effectively attain as there is bound to be many problems I've yet to discover. The programming part isn't the one I'm worrying as I've been dabbling in it for some years now

But I'd appreciate any help to point me in the right direction. Which parts would I need (as I must admit I'm a bit lost with the wide range of proposed parts on websites) ?
I'm thinking of using Ardino as my basis, is this a good choice ?

Thanks for any input.

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It sounds like you are looking for what is known as a 'pick and place' robot. If you have a budget, you can actually find these commercially. If you instead have time and patience, you may be able to build something yourself.

Take a look at some of these posts for ideas. Most are for robotic arms or kits. The last one is Patrick's chess playing robot, which moves more on an x-y gantry system.

Steve, The Disembodied Robotic Arm

Robotic arm 5 axis (with gripper)

Remote Controlled Robotic Arm

mini robotic arm

Robotic arm from DAGU (you can order this one)

Video of a homemade 5-DOF manipulator with tactile feedback made from styrene

Chess Playing Robot V2

Good luck and keep us informed!