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Build a Car With Touch Sensitive Steering for Your Rat

In 2019 Professor of Behavioral Neuroscience Kelly Lambert and her research colleagues published a journal article called “Enriched Environment Exposure Accelerates Rodent Driving Skills.”

This article explains “The research team built a tiny car for the rats out of a clear plastic food container on wheels, with an aluminum floor and three copper bars functioning as a steering wheel. A total of 17 rats were trained to drive in rectangular arenas. Rats who passed their driver’s education were rewarded with Froot Loops.” Incredibly, the study actually found that rats enjoyed learning how to drive!

Now I don’t particularly like driving but who am I to deprive my pet rats of that experience? In my senior year of high school, I set out on a quest to recreate the rat car using only the limited information and photos in the scientific article, my nonexistent knowledge of electronics and coding, and a lot of help from my teacher.

Now, this was over a year ago and I don’t remember everything I did or how I did most of it. Hopefully the info I’ve compiled here is enough of a guideline for you to improve on my trial and error project and make your very own rat car.

- Arduino software
- Arduino Code
- 1-gallon clear plastic Container
- Car Chassis Kit
- Extra pivoting wheel
- Hard plastic or board similar in size to the chassis base
- AA batteries x 4
- 9 volt battery
- 9 volt battery connector
- Electrical wire
- Soldering iron
- Hot knife
- Needlenose pliers
- Breadboard jumper wires
- Thin but sturdy copper wire
- Adafruit Motor Shield v2.3
- Arduino Uno
- Capacitive Touch Sensor”

Link to article