Coronavirus quarantine is taking its toll on all of us, especially when the internet goes out. For six years now (opens in new tab), Google’s been trying to offer a little levity during these moments with its dinosaur-based endless runner game, which Chrome users can play whenever they lack an internet connection. Unfortunately, this can sometimes lead to even more frustration as the game speeds up and gets more difficult, leading one arduino (opens in new tab) robotics hobbyist to take matters into their own hands. I mean, we’ve all got plenty of free time now.
Earlier this morning, the instagram account @diyelectronic (opens in new tab) posted a video credited to user @z_muir (opens in new tab) that showed a relatively simple Chrome dinosaur game robot the maker created using an arduino board, a breadboard, a photoresistor, some duct tape and a simple motor connected to a paperclip lever. After a little unseen programming, all these parts come together to press the jump button whenever the photoresistor, which has now been taped to the screen along the dinosaur’s path, detects an obstacle’s black pixels instead of the usual white of the background.
It’s a cute, relatively low-cost project that exists more for novelty than anything else. Other users have beaten the game far more effectively before through software, even machine learning (opens in new tab). But for physical solutions, this is a clever take, and could make a good project (opens in new tab) for bored tech-savvy kids now trapped at home.
Comments do point out that the robot is bound to fail once the game speeds up too fast for the photoresistor to detect obstacles or when the game starts introducing birds (opens in new tab)- an obstacle that requires a separate input- but given that I’ve never seen a bird (or pterosaur, it’s unclear) when playing myself, it’s at least bound to do better than some humans.
The video unfortunately doesn’t go in-depth about the parts used, but our raspberry pi expert Ash Puckett told me over slack that the arduino in the video looks like an Elegoo Uno, which currently has a basic starter kit available for $44.00 on Newegg (opens in new tab).
In the meantime, you can play Chrome’s dinosaur game, even with an active internet connection, here (opens in new tab).