Matchbox-sized line following robot

pocketbot_line_following_robot

While they are not nearly as complex as their self-navigating brethren, building line following robots is no simple task, especially when they are this small. The creation of [Ondřej Staněk], this matchbox-sized line following robot is quite impressive.

PocketBot’s 48mm x 32mm circuit board also acts as its frame, supporting the wheels, motors, microcontroller and more. The brains of the operation is an ATmega8 microcontroller mounted on the bottom of the bot. A pair of wheels are driven independently using a set of mobile phone vibration motors that power the bot at speeds of up to 0.35 meters per second. Line detection is achieved by using three different IR sensors paired with four IR emitters located at the front end of the bot.

PocketBot also has an IR receiver on its top side, which allows [Ondřej] to control the robot, tweak its parameters, or calibrate its sensors on the fly using an IR remote or his computer.

The PocketBot might not be the absolute smallest line following bot we’ve seen, but it’s pretty darn close!

Continue reading to see PocketBot in action.

28 thoughts on “Matchbox-sized line following robot

  1. Now that is just cool! I was wondering how you connected it for programming as I see a 4 pin arrangement near the edge of the board (usb?) Then I read that he does it with the IR, now that is pretty cool!

  2. This is sweet! I could have a lot of fun with my dogs with this thing. :) I love how he can control it with the ir remote arrow keys.

    How is he using the vibration motors for propulsion? Are the heads of the motors directly spinning on the surface of the wheel? I can’t really tell.

    I would love to build one of these.

    1. I read the build log in czech and he’s using neodymum magnet in the middle of wheel frame so the wheels are forced to stick to the motor axles. Very clever solution.

    1. Wow, that’s a little bit too similar for my taste… But then again the older project doesn’t provide the source so courtesy goes out the window.

      1. The Elm-chan’s project also implements P-I control and runs much faster and smoother. But I’m not saying that this one is not worth mentioning. What I don’t fully understand is why the author didn’t bother implementing I part of the PID.

      2. @svofski: He probably thought that it doesn’t matter if it gets a constant error, as long as it follows the line. Also, he programmed it in assembly, so I guess that he wanted to do it as simple as he could… assembly is not that fun :P

  3. Fascinating. An excellent miniaturization of a classic project, that Ir update feature would really make tunning a lot easier. Another good project.

  4. It would look good if you left it in the match box with some holes on the bottom for the wheels to pock thru and a hole for the sensor.
    Then invite a friend round and ask him if he can see where you left the matches, then turn the robot on when he’s not looking.

  5. Love the way they embedded the connector headers as part of the pcb. (cheap and small ICSP)

    Anyone out there with a compatible mini cable connector?

  6. I just love the amount of work he put into this project, everything is so well taken care of and the whole thing feels finished. My respect. Now make it available as a kit at toy stores, or Sparkfun.

  7. It is neat…but I wonder why the second version is still only two wheels. To me, the only point of something like this would be to stuff it into a matchbox car…and for that you need 4 wheels.

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