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RobotShop Grand Tutorial: How to Make a Robot - Lesson 1

Lessons Menu:

Getting Started

Welcome to the first installment of the Grand RobotShop Tutorial, a series of 10 lessons that will teach you how to make your own robot. This tutorial is aimed at anybody willing to get started in robotics and have a basic understanding of terms such as “voltage”, “current”, “motor”, and “sensors”. Although this might seem pretty basic, even people with previous robot building experience might find useful information regarding the general method of building a robot.

What is a robot?

There are many definitions of robot and no real consensus has been attained so far. We loosely define a robot as follows:

Robot: An electromechanical device which is capable of reacting in some way to its environment, and take autonomous decisions or actions in order to achieve a specific task.

This means that a toaster, a lamp, or a car  would not be considered as robots since they have no way of perceiving their environment. On the other hand, a vacuum cleaner that can navigate around a room, or a solar panel that seeks the sun, can be considered as a robotic system.

It is also important to note that the  “robots” featured in Robot Wars for instance or any solely remote controlled device would not fall under this definition and would be closer to a more complex remote controlled car.

Although this definition is quite general, it might need to evolve in the future in order to keep up with the latest advancement in the field. In order to get a sens of how robotics is rapidly growing, we suggest you take a look at the RobotShop History of Robotics.

Let’s get started

This series of tutorials is intended to guide you through the steps of building a complete mobile robot.

There are 10 lessons that will be released in the following 10 weeks.  Each lesson guides you through one step of making a general-purpose mobile robot.  This will enable you to build your very own mobile robot in order to perform a task of your choice. Each lesson will be illustrated with an example from RobotShop experience in producing the RobotShop Rover. The lessons are intended to be read one after the other and build upon the information gained.

STEP 1

The first step is to determine what your robot should do (i.e. what is its purpose in life). Robots can be used in almost any situation and are primarily intended to help humans in some way. If you are unsure of what you want your robot to do or simply want to concentrate your efforts on specific tasks, here are some ideas:

Knowledge & Learning

LEGO Mindstorms NXTIn order to build increasingly complex robots, most professionals and hobbyists use knowledge they have acquired when building previous robots. Instead of building one robot, you can learn how to use individual components with the objective of building your own “knowledge library” to use to undertake a larger, more complex design in the future.

Amusement & Companionship

Teddy Bear Companion RobotBuilding a robot is in and of itself is fun and exciting. Robotics incorporates aspects of many disciplines including engineering (mechanical, electrical, computer), sciences (mathematics and physics) and arts (aesthetics) and users are free to use their imagination. Amusing others with your creations (especially if they are user-friendly and interactive) helps others to become interested in the field.

Competitions & Contests

Robot SoccerCompetitions give the project design guidelines and a due date. They also put your robot against others in the same class and test your design and construction skills. Although many competitions are specifically for students (elementary to university), there also exist open competitions where adults and professionals alike can compete.

Autonomous life form

Alice Micro Robot SwarmHumans are natural creators and innovators. The next great innovation will be to develop a fully autonomous life form that rivals or surpasses ourselves in ability and perhaps creativity. This goal is still being accomplished in small steps by individuals, research organizations and professionals.

Domestic or Professional tasks

Neato Cleaning Tile EdgeDomestic robots help liberate people from unpleasant or dangerous tasks and give them more liberty and security. Professional and Service Robots are used in a variety of applications at work, in public, in hazardous environments, in locations such as deep-sea, battlefields and space, just to name a few. In addition to the service areas such as cleaning, surveillance, inspection and maintenance, we utilize these robots where manual task execution is dangerous, impossible or unacceptable.  Professional and Service Robots are more capable, rugged and often more expensive than domestic robots and are ideally suited for professional and/or commercial use.

Security and Surveillance

SuperDroid HD2 SWAT / EOD Tactical Treaded Robot w / 5DOF ArmMost mobile robots are used to venture into areas where humans either should not or cannot go. Robots of various sizes (either remote controlled, semi-autonomous or fully autonomous) are an ideal choice for these tasks.

 

 

Practical Example

We anticipate that most of you following this guide have the objective of building a robot for learning and knowledge, but also for sheer fun; though many will have a specific idea or project they want to materialize.

The last major consideration is budget. It is difficult to know exactly what people have in mind when they build their first robot; one might already want to build an autonomous snow removal robot, while another simply wants to make an intelligent clock. A simple programmable mobile robot might cost about $100 while a more complex can be several thousands of dollars.

In this exercise, we have chosen to make a mobile platform in order to get an understanding of motors, sensors, microcontrollers and programming, and to include a variety of sensors. We’ll keep the budget to about $200 to $300 since we want it to be fairly complete.

Simple Mobile Robot CAD

RobotShop - Robotics at your serviceFor further information on learning how to make a robot, please visit the RobotShop Learning Center. Visit the RobotShop Community Forum in order to seek assistance in building robots, showcase your projects or simply hang-out with other fellow roboticists.

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225 Responses to “How to Make a Robot – Lesson 1: Getting Started”

  1. shreejith raj, mysore, karnataka

    this is very usefull…….
    nice job……
    thanks for the information

  2. venkatachalam

    i liked it …………………………………………………….
    but no information from Lesson 4 toLesson 10

  3. Dozie

    thanks so much.this is the closest ive come to making my first robot. i hope i learn enough to make one.

  4. keyvan

    this is very use full and nice.plz continue to release the other lessons ( 4-10)
    thanks !

  5. alajmi

    PLZ..Continue as soon as u can
    where is the other lessons?? (5-10) ??

  6. Gokull Subramanian

    wow!!!!! its interesting but how to assemble the parts of a robot and what are they.

  7. Carlos

    Hi Everybody.

    Thank you for the great feedback, we really appreciate it. In order to get help with making robots, we suggest you visit our forum: RobotShop Community Forum

    There you will be able to find help from the RobotShop technical team and from other roboticists.

  8. Carlos

    For all those wanting to get started with robotics and seeking simple instructions on assembling your first robot, we recommend using the DFRobotShop Rover. In its page you will find all the required information to get this nifty robot running in no time.

    This robot is aimed at beginners and advanced users as well, Beginners will be able to get the robot to move and perform preprogrammed action in no time, while learning about programming and robotics in general. On the other hand, more advanced users will appreciate the fact they the platform is Arduino based and thus can be easily expanded with Arduino Shields .

  9. Demarch

    this is really cool and I have
    to check out your upcoming
    dynamic lessons!…

  10. charu

    how can i make a robot using home junk not technical things with an easy method

  11. Carlos

    It is certainly possible to hack household appliances and other everyday objects and make them into a robot. This can mainly be done once you have a sense of what are the requirements for a robot and how the different components in an appliance for instance could help you do that. Also, if people is able to make robots form household materials, it is because household materials can sometimes be packed with motors, circuits and other useful things.

    The first step for hacking junk into useful things would be to take them apart and be familiar with the components and how they work together. Usually toys and small appliances are a good and almost natural start.

  12. Sarath Remalli

    Can you give me more details about the voice recognition robots?

  13. Devendra

    i wanna make a robot,but i don’t have any idea about robot tell me and describe with audio how to make robot and plz.. sent me the cost of tht robot.

  14. dkoster

    why the heck does every robot-making thing that i look up cost money? I don’t have $100! I WOULD LIKE A FREE ROBOT THANK YOU VERY MUCH

  15. Carlos

    @dkoster, There is no free lunch.

    In order to accomplish the robot you describe it would require knowledge, robot making experience besides ingenuity and creativity. It takes a lot of experimenting and know-how in order to create a robot out of old junk.

    Also, these lessons are simple in the sense that they summarize the knowledge currently required to make a robot using off-the-shelf (and maybe some custom) parts. By no means this is a comprehensive repository of the knowledge related to make a robot.

  16. sam

    great website. very useful for anyone like myself wanting to get into robotics

  17. Horeb

    i’m horeb doing my mechanical engineering final year,i’m interested in robotics.I’m planning for a project on robot so please can any one guide me through my project?

  18. sri

    can u say about the manufacture of a robot,i means the equipment needed for doing the parts of a robot.hope u will definitely help me.thank u very much

  19. praneeth

    until now i was searching for a good web site to know about robotics now i got and opportunity to know about them i am very thank full to the publisher.

  20. akshat

    i am very thankful to the publisher now i can know more about robotics

  21. Sushil

    How to make a simple robot which are used generally
    what is the simple procidure to make a robot

  22. jaswitha

    till now i never got the information about robotics and know i can learn more & more. I am very thankful to the publishers <3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3

  23. jaswitha

    till now i never got the information about robotics and know i can learn more & more. I am very thankful to the publishers

  24. sonam

    i was able to learn more about robots……i am thankful to the publisher….

  25. prasath

    we r a gang of frnds waiting to make a mark in robotics field.
    can any one help us????????

  26. Nathan Gibson

    I’m trying to find someone to help to build a Robot idea called: Eggobot

  27. dibyanshu shekher

    the lessons to understand the robot is not clear.use figures and exmples to be clear

  28. P.Raju

    thank you for your given information,but
    i want more information about ROBO programs please

  29. I love robot

    Woow . This is soo great .
    Wooww . I love itt .
    good . fantasic

  30. I love robot

    <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3
    Robots are my life <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3

  31. Carlos

    For robot programming you will need to wait until lesson 10. In the meantime, you can read all the completed lessons.

  32. THE H. S. INDIA

    CAN I UNDERSTAND ROBOTICS WIDOUT ANY TECHNICAL SENSE ………..AS I AM A JUST A STUDENT OF class 8th …………..and could u plz advice me wid some useful ideas for making a home made (probably, junk made) working robot………………..plzzzzzz

  33. Carlos

    We invite you to follow the lessons and let us know if you have any specific questions., we believe the lessons have enough information to get you started making robots very fast.

  34. elayaraja a

    this type of information will be very useful for the beginners in robotics….keep it going on

  35. Por Soksan

    I’m Soksan student of BBU . Would you please give me the video of the sample of robot that you made.

  36. steves gilbuena

    nice..were i can buy some some parts to make a robot?

  37. karatikey tiwari

    robotics is a tremendous topic and i have great in it.robot is a good artificial
    social worker .it can be used to survive the human being at the time of specific & natural hazards & for many more.
    thanks

  38. karatikey tiwari

    robotics is a tremendous topic and i have great interest in it.robot is a good artificial
    social worker .it can be used to survive the human being at the time of specific & natural hazards & for many more.
    thanks

  39. mohan

    where i can buy some parts to make a robot. where i find the electronic tools.

  40. shailendra kumar verma

    how to make robot firstly start plse say complete information plse.

  41. sachin gangwar

    hi this is sachin i want to make project on robot i know its difficult but i can do it so plz help me

  42. sandesh kumar

    hwey my self sandesh kumar…i want 2 make robots as i m very much interested in robotic world ..so plz help me…i just want 2 change dis world…help me…

  43. Ganesh kotiye

    hi this is Ganesh; i want 2 give a interview for “Robocon international event” so help me……..
    Thank you.

  44. Micheal Heins

    Okay you are true, YouTube is most excellent video sharing web site, because YouTube is a lightly no much streaming time rather than other websites.

  45. Nitish Sahu

    I Love Robots ♥♥♥! im going to ROBOTICS workshop in 16th December in Jamshedpur!

  46. Divyansh

    I want to make a robot.Tell me about material required give me some tips also.

  47. cbenson

    This type of question is the main reason we have started the Grand Tutorial Series.

  48. ahonsu david

    thanks a lot for such useful information made available to people like me.
    when will lesson ten be made available?

  49. cbenson

    It’s coming.. we have had some more important priorities in the meantime. We apologize for the delay.

  50. pranjali

    i lv robotics n wanna make my career in it .. n wanna learn it practically ..
    plz suggest wt 2 do.

  51. cbenson

    If you want to design and build robots, you should choose a main field (Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Computer Engineering, Robotics, Programming etc) and then try to learn about the other fields by either taking extra classes or learning on your own. If you don’t have the opportunity to go to college / university, then start by taking apart electronics, save money to buy a microcontroller / computer and work your way up from there.

  52. KARAN KUMAR SHARMA

    I AWANT TO KNOW HOW MAKE A ROBO WITH HOME MADE MATERIAL

  53. cbenson

    This is not easy… you first need to understand a lot about every part of a robot, and also build up a selection of “donor” parts you can disassemble in order to make what you want. We hope to come out with even less expensive platforms in the near future.

  54. vishavjeet

    interesting but not more clearify clear each nd every small point about how to make a robo

  55. akshay asnani

    can i be able to make a robot as i m a student /// i love making robots n more amazing things which r related to it

  56. amit sharan

    Hi, I am amit sharan.I am student of b.tech final year nd i have to make a robotics project but i don’t know about robotics.plz gave me some idea.

  57. Aminu Sufi

    I’m a civil engineering student, but I want to switches to Mechatronics just to create Android-Humanoid Robots. But I only needs a sample of Neural Schema.

  58. YOGENDRA

    can i learn robotics and make my own robots and grow to a big robotic scientist and made a advanced robots without much pressure on studies and technichal background

  59. cbenson

    We don’t quite have that… that’s some pretty high end code.

  60. cbenson

    Some people learn a lot outside of school. You will need to give yourself objectives and find the right materials to help you. When learning about robotics, you cannot rely on the user community to teach you everything; you will need to read user manuals, books etc.

  61. rishav

    Please show some videos – without it u can hardly understand anything..

  62. Sarvil

    I wanna make an autonomous flying robot ,which programming language I should prefer ????

  63. cbenson

    If you are new to programming and want fast results, try Arduino. If you have more patience, try C#.

  64. Gowtham

    I’m interest for to make a robot but I don’t no for anything this so please help to me

  65. Tyler7676

    hey im 12 and i have somethings that can be in a robot but i don’t how to get started.

  66. honey

    I am interested in making robots. so, please learn me. how to make robots.thank you

  67. himanshi

    i want to know about the parts that are used to make a robot and procedure also

  68. kavita ahuja

    thanks i was searching for such site…….. i want to know the same parts required for autonomous robot … my project is object recognition which is based on matlab .. i want my software i.e. object recognition should be the s/w used in autonomous robot for object recognition eg recognizing a specific ball etc… but i will use Matlab image processing toolbox for coding is it possible to make s/w and emulate with h/w robot. easily?

  69. Yash Thakkar

    nice site for robotics….

    i want to make a robocar which have a camera on front of it & that take picture ahead of some distance…
    if there is any disturbunce, robocar automatically take turn….

    for this car, which material, which programming lenguage i needed..??
    plzz help me…

  70. Malia

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  71. KittyTurnoverZ

    Thanks for these helpful lessons for how to make a robot. I have been wanting to make a security defense robot for about ehhh 6 months now. I have finally exceeded in making my design on it and these tips will get me outta town! Again thx,

    Love, Kitty TurnoverZ

  72. MALLIKA

    ROBOT IS BEAUTIFUL BY SEEING THIS SITE I MADE A ROBOT IT IS WORKING

    THANKU FOR THIS SITE

  73. Jawid Ahmad Baktash

    Hello to all really i have so interest for this section also i have some CS background but i don’t know how to start and from where i can start ?? any one who has idea plz help me
    many thanks

  74. RAJ ROBIN

    I HAVE MADE A ROBOT THROUGH THIS WEBSITE.THIS WEBSITE IS SO USEFUL TO ME.

  75. cbenson

    Well, the “food” would be the battery (or the oxygen in the blood vessels), so the “heart” might be the motor controller(s).

  76. ibtihaj

    hello gyzs i want to create a simple reboot for my term project kindly help me gyzs please?i am good in programming in simple c.but i have no idea about rebotic system.

  77. wahid

    i would like to make a robot by using microcontroller,stepper motor,motion sensor, remote control system. how can i get the detail about those instruments. please give me the faithfull address please. and thank for the lession.bye

  78. cbenson

    If you have any suggestions as to how we can improve the series, we welcome your feedback.

  79. Nikhil

    thank you……..
    This web side is very very….helphful to make the robot at home…
    Thank you..once again.

  80. archana

    thnx for this site….bt i need more help.is there any site where i can meet few robo frends.

  81. archana

    hey .@cbenson …..i wnts to be ur frend becoz i need a frend who guide me in every steps in my robot formation

  82. cbenson

    Appreciated. What we are trying to do is provide the entire community with information on how to build robots (rather than one robot specifically). If you have any information you would like to know, feel free to add it in the comments section here.

  83. cbenson

    It’s difficult to get too specific without excluding a lot of information which might be relevant to other people. What type of information would you like to know?

  84. mohan kumar

    Its..simply superb but U have to…inserting clearly instructions wise images shld bring its mostly understand Ing easy in our mind….

  85. Trig moler

    Hi. My name is Trig and I would like some more tips and walk throughs please. I’m only ten and nobody in my family knows anything about robotics.( :

  86. Kaylak

    I’m only 10 and know NOTHING about robotics, but one thing I know is I don’t have that type of money to spend on robots

    • Coleman Benson

      Robotics does not necessarily need to be expensive – the more you learn, the more “fundamental” you can get; purchasing components rather than completed boards. You can also scavenge parts from old or “junk” electronics, toys etc, including sensors, motors and more. A lot of information can be learned online, and you can start learning to code for free. If you’re really interested, start saving any money you get for more expensive parts.

  87. Tony

    Hi.It’s really happy can found this high quality website today.
    I’m 18 years old and I’m studying in a Computer Technology University.
    I really love to build a robot by myself but I don’t know the field at all yet.
    My course is nearly begin and i don’t know what professional to choose in order for further into automaton field in the future.(These are those professional)
    (√)1:Information Technology(including:[Syestems Security],[Intelligent Systems],[Mobile Technology])
    (√)2:Software Engineering.
    (√)3.Computer Games Development.
    (√)4.Multimedia Technology.
    (X)5.Engineering(Including:[Electrical&Electronic Engineering],[Mechatronic Engineering])
    There is a problem here I can’t choose Engineering professional because i don’t have my physics transcript from high school and I can’t get that anymore.
    So if i cant choose Engineering how can I learn robotic knowledge in the mean while I study my professional?
    Where to start it?
    I hope can give me some suggestion from here. Thanks.

    • Coleman Benson

      Physics is certainly very important if you want to proceed with mechanical / electrical / robotic engineering. However, a very marketable field which you may be able to study in would be programming / software / computer science. The focus would likely not be on physical robots, but with a bit of learning on your own, your robotic creations would be far more capable / intelligent.

  88. Waist barns

    I really enjoyed the lesson bot the problem is I really want to know how it is really made, like the software of it and the most important components of it. Thanks a lot for the lesson sir

    • Coleman Benson

      That will be one of the objectives of the series. Software should be covered in lesson 4 (along with with flight controller), and all the parts needed to build the copter in lessons 2 to the end.

  89. Tony

    So I start to learn physics!!
    but what kind of physics I choose to learn?
    And when is the end?

    • Coleman Benson

      You would need to cover physics up to the high school level (concepts such as Torque and basic material properties and designs). Once you get to the university / college level, the courses become more specific, such as mechanisms, thermodynamics etc.

  90. Jeffrey

    im intrested in building robots im wondering if there is a app where you can build it in 3d on your computer please tell me if there is

    • Coleman Benson

      There are many 3D CAD programs which you can use to build a robot. Most manufacturers do not release 3D CAD models of their products, meaning you will need to draw them yourself. Try a program like Google Sketcup (free).

  91. sathwik

    I AM JUST 15, BECOMING AN EXPERT IN ROBOTIC ENGINEERING IS MY CHILDHOOD DREAM.
    SO,PLEASE SUGGEST ME A PATHWAY TO MY FUTURE.

    • Coleman Benson

      Robotics is becoming its own field of study, so you can try robotics. If you want something more general, consider an engineering field: mechanical, electrical, computer, or programming / software. A university degree is best if possible.

  92. Eric

    Hi I am looking to make my home made robot with just some thing around the house. What I have Is a motor with a solar panel and it works. I was seeing if you could tell me some tips or give me a website that can help me with ,this it would really help me. If you don’t it is okay but please help because I have made my first invitation, Witch is a solar powered fan. I would like to start this so later I could make some cool robot that could help people in there home’s.( I’m only 11 and I can do this stuff at this age.)

  93. doug

    hey what would i need to make my own robot for home and how much would the stuff cost

    • Coleman Benson

      @doug, It depends on what you want the robot to do. This series of lessons gives you an overview to help you figure out which components you would need.

  94. ZACK

    Thanks for the informations, but i’m wondering what language of programming to use

    • Coleman Benson

      If you’re new to robotics, Arduino is becoming wildly popular. They make both the free software, and a variety of open source software.

  95. Amy

    I have never made a robot before but I know something’s about it do you still think I am able to make one.
    Thx for listening
    :)

  96. Logan

    I am 14 and i just joined my school’s robotics club and we r going to get a software that uses Java to programing our Vex EDR robot. Just the problem is that i don’t know that much about Java, and i espesially don’t know anything about programming robots. So can you tell me what i can do to learn Java and but mainly how to program robots?

    • Coleman Benson

      If you’re getting VEXEDR, why not start with RobotC? It’s a much easier language to learn and the community around it is quite big. If you’re stuck with whatever software they select, ideally it should have some tutorials or examples. If not, any book on Java would be a start, and there are a variety of online (free) resources on how to learn to program.

  97. pankaj

    I want to know how to make a robot without any mechanical back ground

    • Coleman Benson

      @pankaj you don’t necessarily need a mechanical background, but if you plan to design the frame, or make something rather complex (mechanically), then you might consider purchasing a kit.

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