Green Engineers

Mechatronics Studio

Contact Us

Mechatronics Learning Studio

Pill Dispenser

 Jacques Leclerc, Alexandre Lemay, and Cameron Ayles, Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Ottawa


Project Purpose

In June 2010, there was a report written by the Journal of General Internal Medicine that showst in American Hospitals, almost 25 million deaths occurred due to medication errors between 1976-2006. There was four main reasons in which this error occurred.  These four errors were when the medication was ordered, when the medication was transferred, when the medication was dispensed, and when the medication was administered.

The purpose of this project is in the direction to eliminate quarter of those deaths by designing a Pill Dispensing Robot that will take the error out of the medicine being dispensed. By removing the error from the dispensing of medication, there would have been approximately 6.25 million lives that would not have been ended accidentally.

Components and Circuit Diagram


The circuit diagram shown above showcases the following electrical components:

                     2 Stepper Motors

                     2 Stepper Motor Drivers

                     2 Servo Motors

                     A Breadboard

                     An Arduino Uno Microcontroller


The materials and components that were used for the mechanical side of this device were:

                     Acrylic (a 2x6 Sheet was purchased)

                     Multiple 3D-Printed parts (gears, wheels, rails, platform)

                     2 Rods (one threaded and one smooth)

                     Various Odds and Ends (bolts, rubber wheels)



When starting a project you need to start with an Idea or some sort of inspiration for your project. Upon asking around, our supervisor suggested that we create an application for an existing autonomous robot and preferably with a biomedical mechanical application. We decided that a pill dispenser would be a good idea seeing as it is practical and would be easy to install on this robot.




Design Process


First we came up with several different designs for the robot and we ranked them in how practical they were versus how hard to program they are. We still drew ridiculous ones since you can still draw inspiration from a ridiculous design.


After we came up with an idea, we created a rough draft of the robot as well as a circuit diagram. The next step was to make a budget. Being students and having to spend your own money on a project is difficult as it is, therefore we tried to minimize costs where we could by getting rid of some of the more complicated parts. After we assessed our budget, we made modifications to our overall design and created a finalized design. Then we ordered our parts and bought our materials. Next comes the construction process:

For our project, we decided to use acrylic to build the frame because it looks very clean but at the same time is very easy to cut and machine. We had to use a 2 by 6 sheet that we bought at a local plastic manufacturer called Canus plastics.


We decided to 3d print many of our parts through a friend, but, 3d printing is very tedious as it is a new technology.  A few issues we had included: having to break up several parts because they are too big to print, parts taking an incredibly long time to print and the warping and shrinkage of parts.


Once we had all of our materials, we started cutting out the required pieces and constructing the frame of the robot. We then used glue to mount many of the pieces as it is easier than screwing everything together.

After some fine tuning and a few modifications, we finalized the project.



The pill dispenser was designed to rotate around a central point and having a platform move up and down was successful. We have proved that we can get the pill dispenser to work with this proof-of-concept. With the implementation of this device, we would see deaths in hospitals across the world be avoided due to dispensing errors.