An intelligent milk tea vending machine developed by University of Macau (UM) students stood out from 1,210 shortlisted entries at the 16th ‘Challenge Cup’ National College Students’ Science Project Competition and won the first prize. The UM team was the only team from Macao to win the first prize at this competition.

The smart vending machine was jointly developed by three UM students in the Department of Electromechanical Engineering and the State Key Laboratory of Internet of Things for Smart City, namely Hu Zhiyuan, Ouyang Mingcong, and Ding Ziqin, under the guidance of Associate Professor Yang Zhixin in the same department. They used infrared sensors on the key points of the robotic arm to ensure that the robotic arm can be accurately docked in various spatial positions. In terms of smart control, they used temperature and volume sensors to remotely monitor multiple liquid containers on an IoT platform. In addition to automatic brewing of milk tea, customers also have the option of adding tapioca pearls, coconut gel, brown sugar, and other ingredients according to their preferences. Alternatively, they can choose other beverages. The smart vending machine accepts a variety of payment options, such as WeChat Pay, Macao Pass, and Mpay.

(From left) Ding Ziqin, Hu Zhiyuan, Ouyang Mingcong, and Yang Zhixin

Hu says that the smart vending machine was very well received during the trial period, and received unanimous praise and recognition from the judges at the competition. He expressed gratitude to the Science and Technology Development Fund, Macau SAR for its (file no. 194/2017/A3, 0018/2019/AKP). Hu adds that they are in the process of developing a second-generation version of the machine, which will have more functions, such as face recognition. The machine is expected to be available in the Faculty of Science and Technology building soon to allow more students to enjoy milk tea on campus at any time of the day.

Hailed as the ‘Olympics’ of college science project competitions, the ‘Challenge Cup’ is a highly influential national competition among college students in China. It is jointly organised by the Communist Youth League, the China Association for Science and Technology, the Ministry of Education, the All-China Federation of Students, and local governments. It provides a platform for Chinese universities to showcase their talented students, serves as a catalyst for technology transfer, and creates an opportunity for businesses to find talented college students and their innovative projects.

The smart milk tea vending machine