One could argue the relative merits of cats versus dogs as the superior pet, but if you happen to be a cat person whose feline companion is in need of a bit more entertainment, MouseAir presents a very interesting solution. The device uses a camera and artificial intelligence via a Raspberry Pi to determine when a kitty walks into view, then fires a mouse for it to chase.
Physically, the build consists of a rack-and-pinion gear that slowly pulls the mouse into launch position under servo control. During this process, a pair of motors spins up like some sort of softball pitching machine, and when the stuffed animal mouse hits the launch spinners, it’s flung into the air for the cat’s entertainment.
A Pi2Grover connector interface and a dedicated MouseAir board assist the Pi with thrower control, while a mouse detector IR sensor is employed to prevent “dry firing.” An ultrasonic distance is available on the front, along with an arrangement of RGB LED lights that could provide user interface for humans — or perhaps felines. A Blynk control panel and a webpage is also implemented for control details.
The contraption is now funding on Kickstarter, with reward levels that vary as to what is provided versus what you supply. The project is open source, so how it works — or if you want to make it a little differently — is entirely up to your imagination!
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Author: Jeremy S. Cook