Li'l robot dispenses treats to engage home-alone pets
If you have a dog or cat that stays home alone all day, you likely worry about them being bored and inactive. Well, the Varram Pet Fitness Robot is designed to get them off their butts when no one is around.
Varram is propelled by two wheels, and made of impact-resistant non-toxic polycarbonate and silicone. It can be loaded up with any type of treats, which it dispenses as it scuttles around on either hard or carpeted floors. An infrared obstacle-avoidance system keeps it from running into things, or getting stuck in confined spaces.
Utilizing an iOS/Android app, users can schedule the times of day at which it will engage their pets, along with the duration of those sessions, the number of treats that will be dispensed, and the routes that the robot will follow – a built-in IMU (inertial measurement unit) helps it orient itself.
When they're at home with their pet, users can also utilize the app to manually control Varram in real time via Bluetooth.
The waterproof device weighs approximately 1.5 lb (680 g), is run by an onboard ARM Cortex-M4 microcontroller, and has a 3.7-volt/800-mAh lithium-polymer battery that should be good for a claimed 10 hours of use per charge – that figure is based on a model of 10 minutes of playtime followed by 50 minutes in sleep mode.
If you're interested, Varram is currently the subject of a Kickstarter campaign. A pledge of US$79 will get you one, when and if they reach production – the planned retail price is 39 percent higher.
There's more information in the following video. And for an example of another treat-giving/pet-entertaining robot, check out the successfully-crowdfunded Mia.