Building An Inexpensive Remote Controlled Robot


The micro:bit is an inexpensive, easy to program computer with a slew of built-in hardware capabilities:

  • A 5x5 LED Matrix

  • Two programmable push buttons.

  • An on-board motion detector.

  • A built-in compass.

  • A radio module to communicate with other micro:bit computers.

These items can be programmed easily using Python, JavaScript or C++.

Upon acquiring a micro:bit, I experimented with writing programs for the on-board actuators and sensors using Python. The micro:bit Python API is easy to understand and all the devices are simple to monitor and control. Having the "basics" under my belt, I started looking for a more challenging micro:bit project. So I wondered, how easy would it be to create a micro:bit robot vehicle with remote control using the micro:bit radio interface? This would give me the opportunity to experience connecting the micro:bit to additional external hardware and see how flexible the micro:bit really is.

And so, this project was born. Here is my list of what I wanted the vehicle to be capable of doing:

  • Be inexpesensive and easily assembled from a set of off the shelf parts.

  • Basic mobility capabilities:

    • Drive forward

    • Drive in reverse

    • Turn left

    • Turn right

    • Spin left

    • Spin right

    • Brake.

  • Additionally:

    • The robot must have the ability to autonomously perform obstacle avoidance maneuvers (we don't want to hit the furniture).

    • The robot must have the ability to be controlled remotely using the micro:bit radio interface.

    • The following types of remote control interfaces must be provided without the need to re-flash the robot vehicle when changing remote types:

In the following sections of this document, we will discuss:

  • Building and coding the robot vehicle.

  • Coding and using the remote controllers.

The source code for this project is available on GitHub.