Laser Toting Robot Taunts House Cat


[Rodney Lederer] and his cat were bored after moving to a new city. He fixed that for both of them by taking on this project which turns a Wowwee robot into feline entertainment.

It’s no secret that cats have a weakness for the little red dot produced by a laser pointer. [Rodney] put that trait to work by automating the movement of a red laser pointer. After mounting it on a servo motor he got down to work programming an Arduino to move it in a playful manner. But it wouldn’t have been much fun if the this was only capable of preprogrammed patterns, so he also included an IR proximity sensor to help give the thing interactivity. Add to that the treaded robot base and you’ve got mobile cat entertainment. The proof is in the video after the break… the cat is certainly having fun chasing the dot. [Rodney] plans to work a bit more on his code so that the motions of the laser dot include a lot of different patterns to keep things exciting.

26 thoughts on “Laser Toting Robot Taunts House Cat

  1. I’ve also thought about building something similar. But I just wanted to fit 2 servos on a shelf / the wall, then the red dot would be able to move around the entire room.

  2. Fun idea, but Obligatory Buzz-kill:
    Just make sure to keep it under a mW or two; cats have very sensitive eyes and the feline damage threshold may be much lower than for humans.

    1. I realized after i made it that being so close to the floor, the laser has the opportunity to shine right in kitty’s eyes. so im making it keep the dot closer to the floor around it so it isn’t shining out so far. seems to work. kitty still likes it and much less chance of blasting my kitty. still a chance tho. but no worse than some of the other motorized laser cat toys i’ve seen in retail stores. I will keep a close eye on kitty tho and make sure his eyes don’t get messed up :)

      1. My mk802ii can only handle about 4fps of motion detection using a pretty simple algorithm on a black and white 320×240 feed, so you might run into some problems with more complex tracking (but definitely let me know if you have success). My plan for more accurate tracking is to simply use the mk802 as a middleman to broadcast the high res feed to my desktop which would then send back the coordinates and the mk802 would relay them to the arduino.

          1. I’m at work right now but I will try to remember to get my source online tonight and I’ll link it here. My mk802ii is hacked to run a lightweight linux, so if you’re looking for android source there wont be any ;)

    1. Please do post your code, I will be interested to see it.

      I don’t know if you have the computational resources for it, but to solve your self tracking issue, use a binary threshold with a high value to isolate the spot and then use CvMoments to extract things like the centroid and shape of the spot. You can use this to create a mask to disregard the spot when looking for motion.

      That is my totally overkill 2¢.
      Nice work.

      – Robot

  3. on the other hand, cats love to be warm…if you make it powerful enough you can set the place on fire, and the cat will be toasty for a bit (these ARE the jokes people)

  4. I think it’s no good to the cat to play with lasers constantly. Besides the aforementioned possibility of eye damage there’s a risk of affecting its psychological side. There is a cycle, a pattern that the cat follows when playing catch with silly objects. The cat hunts and simulates an object’s escape until it finally thinks “ok, I got it, this is good, let’s rest for a while. WAIT! where is my food?”. What happens when playing to much with the laser pointer is that the cat is prone to never reach the “ok, I got it”, thus getting frustrated and developing anxiety.

    I play with lasers with my lovely Nina but we don’t take too much time doing this. It’s pretty good to give her a boost and make her exercise more when living in a space not much wider (not as appropriate for an animal with so freedom of spirit) but must be done carefully.


  5. considering the fact that it’s capable of angling the laser directly in the cat’s eyes, i’d very much like to see a diffusion filter on the front of the laser or the laser metered (with a nist certified power meter) to ensure there’s no change of hurting the cat. other than that, awesome build and your delightful clearly thanks you.

  6. Screw the little parasite-ridden bastards.

    It astounds me, that in this germ-o-phobic country, people (esp. women) would tolerate an animal that spends so much time licking it’s own anus, walking in it’s own feces, and then hopping up on your lap and your kitchen counter-tops and tables.

    At least dogs have acidic saliva (which kills bacteria), and they, (for the most part) keep their feet on the ground.

    When I raised a pack of arctic wolves back in the 70’s and 80’s, I wished for an armored RC car to annoy them with.

    1. The only thing I got from this is that it is impossible to launch a steel projectile to escape velocity using instantaneous thrust at the surface. No matter how much force you put in or how much momentum the object acquires it will never penetrate more than 80-90% of the atmosphere in average conditions.

      Odd how cat toys work.

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