So you’re interested in building your very own robot? Well look no further. Making a robot can be a lot easier than you may think…
To make it easier to find the robot building guide right for you, we have split this page into two sections. The first provides detailed guides for building your first robot, this is ideal for the beginner. The second section is for the more advanced users who already have a knowledge of building electronic circuits.
Simple ‘non-intelligent’ Robots
Simple Robots are often refereed to as BEAM robots. BEAM robotics is the study and development of simple biologically inspired robots. The word ‘BEAM’ is an acronym for Biology, Electronics, Aesthetics, and Mechanics. BEAM robots generally use analogue circuits (instead of digital), replacing complex microprocessors with simple voltage comparators, which are used to interpret sensor readings and decide on the robots actions. There are many benefits and drawbacks associated with not using a microprocessor. The benefits are: speed of execution, reduced power consumption and ease of testing. The major drawback is: difficulty in making decisions.
Although there are many excellent guides to building robots on the web, we would encourage anyone who is interested in building a robot or learning more about the inner workings, to purchase one of the many brilliant robotics books available. For beginners we would recommend the books: ‘Robotics, Mechatronics, and Artificial Intelligence: Experimental Circuit Blocks for Designers’ (2001) by Newton C. Braga and ‘JunkBots, Bugbots, and Bots on Wheels: Building Simple Robots With BEAM Technology’ (2002) by David Hrynkiw & Mark Tilden. For more information, checkout our guide to the best robotics books.
Getting Started Guides
- A guide to building a number of simple Robots – Excellent beginners guide! [PDF]
- Easy to follow guide for building your very own sun-powered racing Robot [PDF]
- Light-seeking and obstacle-avoiding Robot guide [PDF]
- Night Light [PDF]
- Miller Solar-engine (Demonstrate many techniques needed to build solar powered circuits) [PDF]
Building ‘Intelligent’ Robots
In this context ‘intelligent’ robots are those that have the ability to sense the environment, make decisions and then perform actions based on those decisions. This control methodology is often referred to as Sense-Plan-Act.
Although there are many good guides to building robots on the web, we would encourage anyone who is interested in building a robot or learning more about the inner workings, to purchase one of the many brilliant robotics books available. For intermediate / advanced roboticists we would recommend the book: ‘Intermediate Robot Building’ (2010) By David Cook. For more information, checkout our guide to the best robotics books.
Getting Started Guides
- Lets make Robot’s ‘How to make your first Robot guide’ [PDF]
- Solarbotics’ Mini Sumo Robot [PDF]
- Society of Robots’ ‘Step-by-step Robot Tutorial’ [Website]
- Getting started with the Arduino Microcontroller [Website]
- Driving motors using an Arduino Microcontroller [Website]
Remember, if you are unable to buy a robot kit or the bits required to make your own, don’t worry! Our Robot Software page discusses a number of free software tools, which you can download and get started experimenting with robots today.
One of the best ways to learn about robotics is to be hands-on and build your own robot. Below you will find a list of robot kits that we have carefully selected and reviewed. For all those new to robotics, we would highly recommend starting with the Lego Mindstorms NXT. There is no other robot available, which is both easy to get started with for beginners and versatile enough, to allow more experienced Roboticist to adapt and expand the robots capabilities.