Let's Make a Robot!

In this guide, we'll walk you through the steps on how to make a robot before building and programming it. Whether experimental, educational, proof of concept, or building a robot product, this guide is the place to begin!

Throughout the next steps of this guide, plan your robot out on paper. Sketch ideas and write out goals you want your robot to accomplish. In the next few steps, we will provide hardware and software options to allow your robot to achieve desired goals, even if it merely experimental for fun. Drawing the robot to visualize the components is very important before attempting to build it. Plus, it creates historical documents that are fun to reflect back on in the future when you have accomplished your robot build.

Not only the physical features of the robot should be documented. Also document the things/tasks you want your robot to accomplish. Write those down because if you miss anything now during the planning stage, it'll be difficult to add later on when the physical robot is completed. Remember, you don't really need to complete every feature on your task list - because that is why in our next step we will break the tasks down into smaller tasks. See this example sketch of how to make a robot.

Breaking Features Down Into Smaller Goals

When learning how to make a robot, ARC makes it very easy to start programming. Before we dive into ARC programming, consider the tasks for your robot. Like any large task, the feature goals should be split into smaller tasks. Let's take the task list of making a peanut butter sandwich, for example...

  1. Know where peanut butter jar is
  2. Move to where the peanut butter jar is
  3. Is the peanut butter jar behind a cupboard door? Open door
  4. Locate peanut butter jar on shelves (Is it visible?)
  5. Move items out of the way (if applicable), and reach up and grab peanut butter jar
  6. Know where the work area will be for placing the peanut butter jar
  7. Navigate to work area
  8. Place peanut butter jar and known coordinate on work area
  9. ...
  10. ...
  11. ...

You see, the number of tasks to break down just to get the peanut butter jar out of the cupboard is already a hefty challenge. So the challenge in your desired robot feature will determine how many smaller tasks it includes. Write down your desired feature and begin breaking it down into smaller tasks, as if you were to accomplish it as a human. Then, consider what additional steps are necessary for a robot to accomplish the feature, based on the fact that humans make a lot of generalizations (world knowledge) that robots do not have.

The Physical Build

With your pencil and paper ready, let us begin choosing options on how to make a robot in these next steps...

1. Computer & I/O Controller

ARC requires a computer running the Windows operating system connected to an I/O controller (EZB). The computer can be embedded within the robot or can be used remotely over WiFi away from the robot.

2. Movement Style

A robot requires a movement type to interact with the physical world. Movement type is closely related to the locomotion style, for example walking with servos, driving with wheels or flying. 

3. Vision

A robot requires a camera to support vision tracking capabilities. As sight is the most important sense for humans, a camera is an extremely versatile sensor for robots.

4. Audio

A robot requires audio hardware to receive verbal commands and have the ability to audibly speak.

5. Power

Just as we need food to survive, a robot requires a power source to provide energy to all subsystems.

6. Remote Control

Remote control of the robot with a joystick, keyboard, WiiMote, etc. will allow you to test and ensure it is correctly operating.