A line follower is a common project for anyone wishing to make a start in robotics, a small wheeled device usually with some kind of optical sensor which allows it to follow a line drawn on the surface over which it runs. In most cases they incorporate a small microcontroller or perhaps an analogue computer which supplies power and steering control, but as the Crayon Car from [Greg Zumwalt] demonstrates, it’s possible to make a line follower without any brains at all.
This seemingly impossible feat is achieved thanks to the line and road surface, it runs on a piece of paper over which the line is drawn with a crayon. The robot has a single straight-line drive wheel at one end and a pair of driven rollers at 90 degrees to each other at the other end, with the magic happening due to the difference in friction between paper and crayon. The robot follows a circular track with no problem, and while we can see it’s not without flaws we doubt it would be possible to make a simpler follower.
Sharp-eyed readers will have noticed that this is not the first line follower we’ve shown you which claims to have no brains, but we’d claim that since the previous machine had an analogue circuit, this one is a more worthy contender to the crown.