Self-balancing Arduino does it without an IMU


The miniscule size of this self-balancing robot makes it a cool project. It actually uses the motor and wheels from a small toy car. But when you look into how the balancing act is performed it gets way more interesting. The larger versions of this trick pretty much all use Inertial Measurement Units (IMUs) which are usually made up of an accelerometer and a gyroscopic sensor. This has neither.

The black PCB seen to the right of the robot is an IR reflectance sensor. It shines an IR led at the floor and picks up what reflects back. [Sean] added this hack because the gyro sensor he ordered hasn’t arrived yet. The board has a trimpot which is used to adjust the sensitivity. You have to tweak it until it stands on its own. See for yourself after the break.

Self balancing robot builds are a great way to teach yourself about Proportional-Integral-Derivate (PID) algorithms used in a lot of these projects.


  1. freelancer says:

    Well it’s not gonna work on unevenly colored floor, right? How about using a perpendicular and two light barriers? It might oscillate easly, but maybe this is an even better PID-training ;)

  2. Craig Turner says:

    Could an ultrasound sensor work like this? Anyone know?

  3. ejonesss says:

    have you thought of overnighting the gyro sensor?

  4. Chamb Onz says:

    Have seen this done with lego mindstorms several times using the light sensor.

  5. Arti says:

    I didi this once with a NXT Lego and a light sensor

  6. Bob says:

    Trim pot on the underside.

  7. Andre says:

    Hey, what kind of Motor is this??

  8. John U says:

    Could run dambusters-style converging light spots to detect height, a bit more tolerant of surface changes.

  9. austin says:

    how does it handle hills/inclined planes?

  10. Robot says:

    Adorable. I’m a big fan of the 555 based PID balancing “robot” (which HaD shared years ago.)

  11. foose says:

    That Steam notification in the video got me…

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