Monday, September 8, 2014

University of Florida Student Creates 'Bird Buggy'

Andrew Gray, a computer engineering grad student at the University of Florida, recently invented a device that would allow his pet parrot to roam the house by his side. Gray rightfully named the device the “Bird Buggy” and was surprised at just how much of a positive response it generated from his parrot. Not only did his parrot use it for getting around the house, but it actually seemed to enjoy the process of driving and maneuvering around furniture and objects.

Gray decided to build the device as a means to stop his parrot Pepper from being loud and obnoxious. Before he constructed the Bird Buggy, Gray built an automatic water gun that would shoot pepper anytime he screamed. Unfortunately, however, the water gun only encouraged Pepper to scream whenever he wanted a bath, which seemed more frequently than before. Gray also built a device that made a load rattling noise whenever Pepper started screaming, but this was also ignored by the cunning parrot.

Instead of trying to fight his parrot’s screaming, gray decided to focus on what was already working. He noticed that Pepper screamed less whenever he was in the same room as Gray, so he set out to create a robotic device that would allow Pepper to travel throughout the house with him. After investing dozens of hours of hard work, Gray eventually came up with the Bird Buggy. It allows Pepper to sit on a small podium where he can control the movement by pressing his beak on a joystick. There are even sensors located on the sides that automatically back up when the Bird Buggy comes into contact with a piece of furniture or object.

Another neat little addition Gray made was an IR feature that prevents Pepper from ramming objects too hard. When Pepper starts to approach a wall too fast, the IR sensors automatically trigger the Bird Buggy to slow down; therefore, limiting the power of the impact. Even though it has this addition, Gray has found Pepper to be quite cunning and intelligent when it comes to the Bird Buggy.

Video: Bird Buggy

Check out the video above for a first-hand look at Pepper using the Bird Buggy. As you can see, Pepper is fully aware of how the Buggy operates and what he needs to do to control it. Now that’s pretty impressive! Kudos to both Gray and Pepper for building such as neat little device.