Henry Snow and I built CouchSurfer on a whim as a 24-hour project in February 2012. Most of the components for CouchSurfer were scavenged from CWRU Cutter’s old and unwanted components. We started the project at around 9pm, worked through the night and well past sunrise, took a few-hour break, and then had a working, driving armchair by that evening. Henry put together the original electric hardware and wrote a small LabVIEW program for control, with joystick inputs being read and interpreted by an unused National Instruments cRIO. Meanwhile I designed and built the chassis to accommodate the existing chair framework with minimal modification.
The CouchSurfer project has been largely stagnant since its initial completion. I’ve since taken over the project almost in its entirety and have recently started replacing the joystick and cRIO with an Arduino coupled via Bluetooth to an Android application. I’m also hoping to replace the rear of the original chassis with a more cushioned caster assembly. Though the chair provides ample cushioning for the driver, the electronics are entirely “unsprung” – and suffer from harsh jarring when the chair is taken outside.