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Using an Arduino to keep your drink from spilling

Youtube user motoengine2009 created this impressive self-balancing water tray, to keep their drink from spilling while driving in a car. There don’t seem to be any details available online, but they claim it runs on an Arduino. Nice work! [via Make: Japan]

26 thoughts on “Using an Arduino to keep your drink from spilling

  1. Jim says:

    … but a rather cool application of (presumably) live accelerometer data.

    It does look like that’s an Arduino in the plastic case, USB on the left, power on the right.

    I wonder if the cup was fixed to the tray or if a grippy surface plus the inertial compensation was sufficient to keep it from flying off.

  2. dafydd says:

    What a great over-the-top method!


  3. ROB K636 says:

    I guess it is some kind of non slick padding that they are using to keep the cup on there. Also a 3 axis accelerometer for X side to side,Y front to back, and Z for changes in elevation

  4. Kyle McDonald says:

    It’s like a segway in reverse!

    Part of me wants to believe this works 100% as advertised, part of me is suspicious about it not once bouncing into the air…

    1. SDC says:

      As to it not bouncing off, there’s this magic material called velcro.

      That aside, my local McDonalds has a nice low-cost solution to this problem involving putting a plastic lid on the cup.

  5. Jared Boehm says:

    What an overly-complicated way to accomplish something. You could just suspend your drink by its rim in a swinging cradle to do the same freakin’ thing.

  6. John says:

    Yeah, it’s a bit like a Rube Goldberg solution to a very simple problem. Maybe something like this would work better:, wouldn’t take up space on the dash board (impeding vision).

  7. Bill Coleman says:

    Looking at the video in slo mo, I’m not convinced it is even working. To illustrate, there should be a level, and three cups in the video frame. The level to indicate horizontal,
    One cup with no attachments, one cup with just a gimbal, and
    the third cup as shown. All three cups should be at the same height . Then you could compare the three methods. Frosting, would be to have the speedometer in the video frame as well.
    Bill in Denver

  8. Bitty says:

    This should be standard equipment in every pizza delivery vehicle.

  9. Donald says:

    Assuming that this is real, it is brilliant! Any attempt at “simply” hanging a cup on a pendulum in a car would result in a spilled drink. Think about the oscillations of the pendulum and the free surface effect.

  10. saimhe says:

    Motion is often jerky. Not enough servo resolution? Badly filtered data from accelerometers?

  11. Trevortni says:

    First, it saddens me that the cup is only half full (or is that half empty?).

    Second, it would have been way cool if they had ended the test with a collision and showed the cup not spilling a drop (despite the unfortunate demise of the driver, but he wasn’t the point of the experiment anyway, right?).

  12. Charvak Karpe says:

    In the film, “Initial D”, the protagonist has to drive up and down mountain roads without spilling a cup of water, as a test for whether he can deliver tofu without damaging it. He just needs an active tofu suspension system, I guess.

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