If you had an African Grey Parrot that shrieked and screamed so often it was driving you to the brink of madness, what would you do? Take drugs? Seal your earholes with wax? Murder the parrot in a fit of rage and then grill and eat the evidence? If you're Andrew Gray, you'll build the parrot a robotic car. I mean, duh.
See, Pepper, the parrot, won't fucking stop screaming, though he does it less when he's close to Andrew, a computer engineering grad student at the University of Florida. So, after experimenting with robotic anti-scream squirt guns (Pepper ended up liking the water spray), Andrew built Pepper a little car so that he could effectively follow him around the house, keeping him calm and relatively scream-free.
The car (called the BirdBuggy) is electric, with the forward wheels powered and casters at the rear. The parrot has a perch, and controls the car with a four-way joystick that moves the car forward and backward, and turns it left and right. In addition to the beak-operated stick, the car can be placed in a robotic mode to seek out its charging station via camera-based computer vision. Also, the car has bump sensors and an infrared collision avoidance system, since birds aren't exactly terrific drivers.
One huge innovation I think will eventually find its way into mainstream vehicles is a special holder below the perch for newspaper, to allow for more hygienic shitting while driving. Who wouldn't love a feature like that in your own car? You'd save a fortune on floor mats.
(Thanks, Brett! Source: Alligator)