The lofty goal (for me, anyway) was to make a mobile autonomous robot that could sense its surroundings, learn the layout of the home, respond to verbal instructions, and recognize/identify images. And more as time goes on.
Also included would be the usual - a remote-controlled robot with a camera.
There are many different directions one can take with this project, but it all begins with either building a platform from scratch, where you have to decide the materials, the structure, the motors, and so on,
- or -
selecting a robot platform where a lot of that work and thought has already been done successfully.
There are various mobile robot designs. For example, I could have chosen more of a Mars-rover type with the six motorized wheels and independent movement. I chose instead the low-lying, wide base because I want to add to it. I want to add very tall attachments, such as sensors, that can interact with the environment and “see” over items such as furniture. All that without tipping over.
Some observations:
First, there are some truths to robot projects, and they can tend to be trade-offs: time, money, ability, personal inclination, circumstances.
In my case, I do not have the time, nor the space, nor the inclination, to go scrounging and hunting for parts that I can tear off some other equipment and hope that it might be useful at some point. I also do not want to have days, and weeks (months?) pass and not make progress on this robotics project. So given those constraints, this project will cost me some money. The time be spent researching what I need, where’s the best place to get it, and then just buy it. Hats off to those who do really do robots from scratch.
If you are serious about getting into robotics, my guess is that you will not stop at a single robot. And a key reason for this is that as soon as you decide what parts or what kit, and as you begin your assembly, you will be reading and researching a lot. And you will soon realize that you could have done this or that better, or chosen a different part.
For example, my first attempt at a robot was a video-camera car from Sunfounder.com. It is controlled via your wifi, and the main board is a Raspberry Pi. It was a fun first project but the first thing I noticed was the whole setup (motors, motor controller, etc) were too weak to really be of any use on my apartment’s carpet, and it was too low to the ground to be of much use for my end-goals.
However, if we constantly search for that “better” gizmo or way of doing something, then we’ll never make anything.”

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