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Journal of Healthcare Engineering
Volume 2017, Article ID 9013508, 12 pages
Research Article

Development of an Automatic Dispensing System for Traditional Chinese Herbs

Department of Mechanical Engineering, National Taiwan University of Science and Technology, Taipei City, Taiwan

Correspondence should be addressed to Chi-Ying Lin; wt.ude.tsutn.liam@gniyihc

Received 5 April 2017; Revised 21 June 2017; Accepted 5 July 2017; Published 7 September 2017

Academic Editor: Yi-Hung Liu

Copyright © 2017 Chi-Ying Lin and Ping-Jung Hsieh. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The gathering of ingredients for decoctions of traditional Chinese herbs still relies on manual dispensation, due to the irregular shape of many items and inconsistencies in weights. In this study, we developed an automatic dispensing system for Chinese herbal decoctions with the aim of reducing manpower costs and the risk of mistakes. We employed machine vision in conjunction with a robot manipulator to facilitate the grasping of ingredients. The name and formulation of the decoction are input via a human-computer interface, and the dispensing of multiple medicine packets is performed automatically. An off-line least-squared curve fitting method was used to calculate the amount of material grasped by the claws and thereby improve system efficiency as well as the accuracy of individual dosages. Experiments on the dispensing of actual ingredients demonstrate the feasibility of the proposed system.