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Aug 01, 2014, 02:33 PM
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Harnessing Robotic Technology to Enrich Lives

Recently we had the opportunity to share a story in Robot Magazine, about a company we find inspiring and are honored to have worked with on different projects.

It’s always encouraging to learn about companies that are harnessing robotic technology to better the lives of others. Richardson Products, Inc. is a medical equipment company that is going above and beyond to serve their customers, and we’ve been honored to work with them over the last several years. The company is a family owned and operated business that manufactures and distributes high quality home medical equipment. The owner, Richard Richardson, is described by his employees as a man of extreme integrity – and their company mission is a reflection of his core values.

Robert Rossi is the head of the electrical engineering department at Richardson Products and he is supported by Chris Daley and John Reinbold. Together they design and build innovative products that have a significant positive impact on the assistive technology field. They manufacture a variety of different robots, trays, seats, electronics, and specialized powered devices.

One of the robots manufactured by Richardson Products is a device called the Meal Buddy – a robotic arm feeding system (pictured above). The base of the system is a ServoCity bottom mount gearbox (SPG785A-BM) with full metal gears and 915 oz-in of torque. This robust base unit provides a panning motion allowing the arm to travel from three stationary bowls back to the user’s optimized feeding position. The arm mechanism features three stacked ServoCity tube gearboxes (SPG785A-5) that assist in tilting and directing the food to the user’s mouth. Both gearbox models are machined from 6061-T6 aluminum and utilize a Hitec HS-785HB sail winch servo to create a high-torque and incredibly durable servo power gearbox. The units incorporated into the Meal Buddy have a 5:1 gear ratio; however, we also offer 2:1, 3:1, 3.8:1 and 7:1 gear ratios to accommodate various applications.

While the system does not take the place of having an aid, it allows the user to eat by himself at a pace his is able to control. Like the perfect waiter, the Meal Buddy caters to individual needs – making meals easier and more enjoyable. Robert and his team designed the Meal Buddy to be customizable to each individuals needs including: speed, spoon position, bowl selection and more. The included bowls each have a wipe bar to clean excess food and drips from the spoon. Additional features include: one-touch push button operation, a Sip & Puff option (for hands free operation), adjustable feed cycles (Sequential, Random and User Select), and programmable mouth positions. The Meal Buddy has positively impacted the lives of many individuals, and with Richardson Products continued efforts, there are countless more who will experience the freedom of performing daily tasks with the assistance of robotic devices.

In addition to learning about our gearboxes being used in their assistive feeder, Robert contacted us about the opportunity to partner on an awesome project his team was working on for the Trails Edge Ventilator Camp for kids in Mayville, Michigan. We were of course thrilled about the opportunity to help. Based around our precision MPT100-SS Pan and Tilt System, Robert and his team created a Sip & Puff voice recognition Crossbow Robot! It’s seriously cool.

Pictured: Robert Rossi with the newest version of the Crossbow Robot.

The kids are able to use the crossbow based on two options. First, they can aim the bow up, down, left and right via an ordinary wireless Play Station 2 controller. The second option is with the Sip & Puff controls. The crossbow has a built in voice recognition software as well as Sip & Puff controls – allowing the user to sip or puff into a tube and take control over the robot. The robot evolved quite a bit over the years and the improvements just keep coming. This year Robert and his team are upgrading the system with a WiFi control and a camera view that will make it easier for the children to aim. “The kids love hearing the system fire and the “woosh” of the arrow striking the target with a loud thump that can be heard across the camp!” says Rossi.

Pictured: Bobby Moody looking through the scope on last year’s model. Richardson Products is adding a camera this year so it will be easier to aim for the kids.

As a company focused on designing and manufacturing individual robotic components; we don’t always get to learn about the final use of the products that we ship worldwide. How awesome it is to come into work and see individuals and companies, like Richardson Products, integrating ServoCity robotics components into designs that create a real-life impact. In the age of robotic innovation we celebrate those applying new technology and equipment to enrich the lives of others in communities worldwide.

To view ServoCity’s selection of precision robotic building components, visit

To learn more about the assistive products offered by Richardson Products Inc., visit
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