One of the many realities of living with cerebral palsy is limited upper body dexterity, as almost every activity requires the help of a caregiver. That includes something that most of us take for granted: drinking water. To restore at least that little bit of independence, Rice University engineering students Thomas Kutcher and Rafe Neathery designed the RoboCup.
A typical solution for letting people with cerebral palsy drink without assistance is a “giraffe bottle.” That is a water bottle with a long gooseneck straw that extends in front of the user’s mouth. But while that does give them the ability to drink on their own, it is obtrusive and leaves a bulky straw in front of their face. RoboCup eliminates that issue by rotating the straw out of the way when it isn’t in use. To take a drink, the user just needs to push a button or move their finger over a sensor. The straw will then rotate back over to their mouth.
The best part is that RoboCup is open source, so anyone with a 3D printer and some basic skill with electronics can build one for around $100. The key component is an Arduino Nano board. It monitors the tactical button or distance sensor (whichever is appropriate for the user’s capability) and controls a servo motor that rotates the straw. Power comes from a small rechargeable battery and all of the components, aside from the 3D-printed parts, are off-the-shelf and readily available.
More details on the RoboCup along with instructions are available on the project’s page here.
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