Drive a cat around by guiding a laser pointer. (via Sam Brenner)


It is easy for the cat to get fat when all it does is sit on its couch-throne as king of the jungle…or living room. Designer and NYU computer science grad student, Sam Brenner noticed that cats are motivated to move by their curiosity especially towards shiny lights, so he tried to invent an interactive way to get his cat off its butt.



To do this, Brenner designed something called the "Cat Car." He mounted an Arduino on a cat harness along with a servo that moves a laser pointer 180 degrees. He fitted a MOU6050 gyroscope (or IMU) to a toy steering wheel, and used XBees Series 2 to wirelessly communicate, the IMU data to match steering angle to that of the laser pointer.



Banner learned the difficulties of working with accelerometers first hand while trying to write more sophisticated control algorithms for the steering wheel. He was lucky to find someone at a local New York bar that understood just how the task of steering could be programmed more simply, what serendipity. Using moving averages of IMU data and resets to account for the steering wheel moving with the user, Brenner completed the Cat Car.



With this contraption, he hoped to steer his cat just like you would control a character in Mario Kart Wii. He promoted the idea as a “feline fitness frenzy,” but when demonstrated, the cats were not too impressed, especially after a few minutes of play.



For the next stage of the project, Breener plans to lure the cats with a brighter laser pointer and perhaps train a cat to follow the laser to eventually create a loyal cat army.  Get designs and source at Breener's website.