Main Content

The ESP32cam is a very nice processor and camera which should be useful in a wide range of robotics projects. But when you look on the web most ESP32cam projects are very similar: “here’s an ESP32cam, let’s connect it to a PC over Wi-Fi and use the PC to recognise a face or record video”.

The ESP32cam is acting as not much more than a wireless webcam. It is simply a peripheral to a PC. It should be capable of more than that. It ought to be very useful in robots that are not tethered to a PC through Wi-Fi.

I’m interested in assembly-robotics so I started to investigate how useful an ESP32cam would be. Can the robot use vision to put things together?

This project is the first part of that robotics project. I was surprised at how hard it is to get the popular AI-Thinker ESP32cam to do anything standalone. The more I searched the web, the more people I found running up against the same problems - there just aren’t enough pins exposed. One commentator suggested that we ahould think of the ESP32cam as a single purpose device - it’s a Wi-Fi camera that can also save images to an SD card.

If that’s true, it’s rather disappointing. It’s certainly the case that if you ignore any project that uses Wi-Fi, there are not many others left.One can think of lots of projects where you want a small camera module but don’t want a PC running all the time.

What I want is an ESP32cam with a small display for debugging and lots of I/O for sensors and effectors. This Instructable isn’t really a finished project. It’s meant to be a set of tools that I hope you’ll find useful in your own robot vision projects. I’ve provided a simple example of a robot-arm project but it’s not meant to be the finished project. What I hope you’ll do is work through each of the following Steps and at some point say “I now know enough to do the project that I personally want to do”.”

Link to article