Four students at the Olin College of Engineering in Massachusetts were given $250 and three months to build something for a class project. The result of their efforts: the Confectionery Cannon.
Built mostly from acrylic, PVC, and scrap aluminum, the Confectionery Cannon is essentially a face-tracking, marshmallow turret. Using custom-fabricated components and two nano servos, the cannon can auto-reload for a firing speed of approximately six large Jet-Puffed marshmallows every 10 seconds. And the pneumatic firing system employs a compressor that’s capable of producing up to 135 PSI to get the shots off.
While the hardware is certainly fun, perhaps the more interesting component here is the face-tracking capability that underlies the device. Thanks to the employed Python API of OpenCV, the Confectionery Cannon, with its connected webcam, can detect and calculate distance to a target based on face size. In addition, the cannon is outfitted with the appropriate gears and servos to allow for approximately 200 degrees of horizontal and 60 degrees of vertical motion for aiming.
With the creativity these students have already shown in their Principles of Engineering class, perhaps it’s only a matter of time before we see some of these technologies integrated into commercially available toys and other devices.