We’ve all been there. It’s been a few days since you swept the garden for fragrant bombs left by your dog, so off on an excrement excursion you go. We have all been here too: “Oh my god, I’m so sorry your child walked their new school shoes through the one dog poo I missed. I was sure I’d picked them all up.” Maker Caleb feels our pain, so he made an automatic laser-guided dog poop pick-up system.
Caleb previously built an AI dog poop detector which spies on his dog Twinkie and marks where she has pooped. It logs all the poop locations to help Caleb go straight to the spots where he needs to pick it up. A treasure map of poo, if you will.
Inspired by a redditor’s suggestion in the comments section when he shared that build, Caleb went on to gloriously over-engineer this laser-guided poop patrol system. This whole project exists simply to remove the need for Caleb to check his phone to see the treasure map of poops. The laser tells him exactly where they are instead, so it is very slightly easier for him to walk over and pick it up.
How does it work?
A Raspberry Pi is mounted onto a robot arm with a laser pointer attached. A looping Python script reads the latest commands and issues those directions to the robot arm. All of these elements work together with the livestream from Caleb’s existing security camera.
When the start signal is detected, the camera’s perspective of the garden is translated to bird’s-eye view coordinates, and the system selects the poop location closest to where it detects a human shape standing. By the way, the start signal is Caleb making an X shape with his arms held up to the security camera. So while X doesn’t mark the spot of the treasure he is searching for in the garden, he did get to incorporate this pirate-y feature into the project.
But how does the laser know when it’s time to move on to highlight the next poop? When the camera detects a bending or crouching posture from the human shape it is tracking, it considers the poop collected and moves on to show them where the next one is.
“A spectacular robot-guided poop journey.”Caleb
The AI also points out each poop in sequence along an optimal route. So no zig-zagging back and forth across the garden needlessly. I’m sure you could disable this feature if you’re looking to up your step count while you pick up after your dog.