The oldest entry on my portfolio. Check out the robot that kickstarted my passion for robotics!

This was my very first functional robot, and to this day, I’m still super stoked about it. I was only in 8th grade when I put it together, and it served as the ultimate testing ground for all the cutting-edge tech (fumbling around with Arduino and Processing) I was learning back then.

With basic speech and face recognition capabilities, this robot was definitely a game-changer in my journey towards mastering the art of robotics, at that age. 🙂

I could drive the robot using my computer keyboard, check the temperature of my room on the software dashboard. It even had a security guard mode where an alarm would trigger if the sensor detected any intruder.

To take things up a notch, I even rigged up a webcam to a servo motor that allowed the robot to track my face (and turn the webcam towards whichever direction I was moving at).

Trust me, it was epic.

Technical details

The hardware part basically consisted of:

  • Arduino Uno, as the brain.
  • L293D Motor Driver, to control the motors.
  • SG-90 Micro Servo, to pan the webcam.
  • HC-SR04 Ultrasonic Sensor, for obstacle avoiding+security guard mode.
  • Thermistor, to measure the temperature of the surrounding.
  • Buzzer, as the alarm.

Both the Arduino and the webcam was connected to my computer, where a software (written in Processing, a Java-based language) handled all the speech and face recognition. As far as I remember (I’m writing this in 2023!), I used the OpenCV library for the face recognition and Google’s Speech-to-Text API for the speech recognition.

As for the structure, I made it by hand using plastic sheets and random parts from my broken toys. Fun fact, the orange webcam holder actually came from a model train set.

Things I wish I did better

  • Installing a Raspberry PI inside the body instead of connecting the Arduino to my computer – greatly restricting its mobility.
  • Using Lithium ion or Lithium Polymer battery packs instead of the heavy 8.4V lead acid batteries I swore by at that time. Little did I know, they had terrible energy density and dragged the robot down heavily (pun intended) with their weight.

That being said, I believe I did pretty good nevertheless – considering this was my first robotics project.