Robot couch can drive you to the fridge and back

With a Raspberry Pi and USB gamepad controller letting you run riot on your sofa, this student project is couched in innovation.


Sometimes, getting up off the couch to grab a drink is far too time consuming. What if you could drive the couch to the fridge instead?

Well, your dreams of an automated couch have come true. Nine engineering students at the University of New South Wales in Australia have designed a robotic couch that can be controlled using a standard USB gamepad.

Featuring a custom-built steel chassis with mecanum wheels instead of legs, the "robocouch" can reach speeds up to 15 kilometres (9.3 miles) per hour. All up, the ensemble weighs approximately 100 kilograms (220 pounds) and cost AU$3,000 ($2802, £1717) to put together.

The wheels are driven with 12V electric scooter motors which are all connected to a central controller to regulate speed. In the armrest, a Raspberry Pi also interfaces with the central controller.

While the couch has been in development for a year, the students hope that it will move beyond a cool party trick and wheel itself into an autonomous future.

"The couch fits quite nicely down corridors and in lifts, so if we can fit it out with different sensors to map indoor areas, then it could potentially navigate from one place to another, and not crash into things along the route," said Steph McArthur, one of the engineers behind the project.

The couch will be on display at the University of New South Wales open day on September 6.

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