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RoboCup is an assistive drinking device for people living with cerebral palsy

Arduino TeamOctober 10th, 2023

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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