Engineering students Laura Hodges and Fred Westling test drive robotic couch (via UNSW)
If you belong to the group of folks whose couch is indented with butt prints from prolonged hours of gaming and TV-watching, you're in for a treat. Now you can direct your magic couch to take you everywhere you want to go. No, this isn't a dream, although you may dream of this lovely little loveseat for other reasons...
The couch was created by a team of engineering students from the University of New South Wales in Australia who wondered what life would be like if they could go from dorm to class, without getting up from the couch. It began as a joke, but university professors caught wind of the idea and encouraged the youngsters to figure it out, believing the project would be great experience for the students. It took a team of nine students a full year to complete the project, but it's finally done, and this robocouch can go the distance.
The couch is built on a standard wooden base that hides a custom steel chassis and four individually-controlled mecanum wheels. The wheels are powered by electric scooter motors and controlled by a single controller that enables omnidirectional movement. The robotic couch is also powered by Raspberry Pi and takes orders via X-Box controller.
The design team is still improving the robocouch, but for now it's fully functional and was showcased at the University's Open Day last week. Upcoming improvements include enhancing the couch's coordination, as it falters on uneven terrain or with uneven weight distribution.
Overall, the project is a way for engineering students to gain real-life skills. The group of students, led by Steph McArthur and Will Andrew, came up with a concept, figured out how to build it and then got to enjoy the fruits of their labor. If that doesn't make them fall in love with the wonderful world of making, nothing will. And they're in love. The team is already brainstorming for their next project. In 2015 we may see a fridge that comes to you. Only college kids would go through the all of the work to figure that out. Nonetheless, it's still pretty sweet. Makers, unite!
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