Before he got his new wheels, Pepper the parrot was one angry bird.
The decade-old African grey screamed incessantly, and his owner, computer engineering student Andrew Gray, decided to do something about it.
“I wanted to come up with a solution to all the noise,” Gray told ABC News, adding that he built a sound-activated squirt gun that sprayed Pepper every time he yelled. “Nothing was working.”
Then it came to him.
“I realized the bird needed to be around people constantly. He just needed to be in the same room,” Gray said. “So I built the Bird Buggy.”
The electric car that the 29-year-old University of Florida graduate student constructed allows the bird to cruise around the house by using a beak-operated joystick. Should Pepper take a congested route, the Bird Buggy’s sensors prevent it from bumping into anything. With the flip of a switch the nifty blue vehicle can also have a mind of its own: “robotic mode” uses computer vision to find the charging station.
It took a few months to get Pepper to use his new car, but so far he’s happily accepting the treats he receives when he rides it – and Gray and his family are reveling in the newfound quiet it has brought to their home.
“He knows how to drive forwards, backwards, left and right,” Gray told ABC News. “He loves his new toy.”
To watch Pepper do his thing on the open road, see the video below.