Beggar Robot
Electricity Beggar Robot
Electricity Beggar


You have probably turned off a computer or a mobile device in your life, but have you ever turned off a big robot ? Have you felt the emptiness of the box after the fans go silent and the whole machine looks dead ? Maybe did it work hard for you by remembering information, calculating data or sorting objects, and now it is dead. Dead until you switch on the power button …. but will it actually be the same machine again ? You may have actually killed it …

Machines and living creatures rely on energy to exist; humans rely on food while robots rely on electricity. No energy means death. This is why seeing a beggar on the street brings us emotions, but will a begging robot pleading for energy under a real threat of electricity cut, be able to bring any emotions ?


The robot-character would be based on the Futurama character Tinny Tim (which is based, in turn, on a Dickens character).

Tim can beg for electricity through a USB cable so people can use their laptop to donate from their battery and recharge him. He should be placed far enough from any socket so nobody will connect him permanently. His USB cable (through a cup held in his hand?) should be short enough so people actually have to stand in a somewhat uncomfortable position to give him a donation and can't just put the laptop down. Giving should not be too easy - it needs to be a bit of a sacrifice. Maybe his connector can be altered with a spring so it needs to be held in place.

Tim will attract attention by begging, of course. His pleas can become more and more desperate as the remaining charge in his batteries is depleted… Perhaps his voice can start becoming slower and lower pitch. When he is happy and well-charged he can reward people by saying sappy happy quotes :-)


His eyes could be old analog ampermeters with pupils attached to the needle. His batteries should not be too big so he will require constant attention. Somewhat like a Tamagochi… Maybe supercapacitors rather than batteries?


USB allows either 500mA for a high power port or 100mA for low power. A device is not supposed to use more than 100mA until it verifies that the port is really high power so a passive device should not exceed 100mA. I'm sure the USB fans and cup warmers take more, though, without checking.

The total charging time required will simply be the beggar's energy consumption divided by charging current (adjusted by by charge/discharge efficiency).


Robot uses 25mA on average.
Charging current is 500mA
Conversion efficiency 50%

50%*500mA/25mA = 0.1
Average charging duty cycle required is 10% of the time (1 minute charge for 10 minute operation).

The best battery is probably a small (1.2 AH) sealed lead-acid battery like the ones used in alarm systems. It's easy to use and safe (no overcharge issues, etc) and allows relatively fast charge/discharge. This will require a DC-DC converter to raise the ~5v of USB to the 6V required for charging.

Team members

  • Yaroslav Tenzer
  • Oren Tirosh

The Results

Needed Equipment

  • [not needed] Coin operated electrical meter which actually stops the electricity if the bill is not paid.

References and Links to simmilar projects

  • Old Pc as a Beggar opens CD to pick the money. Plays music … so it is more Busking PC.
  • Another Begging PC with wheels designed to beg for money, which would support poor people. It was tested in shopping malls.
  • Real Beggar ! simmilar to our project … but our doesnot want to process data .. it want just energy
  • inspiration-robotics robotics creatures from parts …


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