Robotics Project Ideas

As students master programming the sensors and motors they become ready to pursue independent robotics projects.  Students are free to devise their own project subject to approval of a realistic plan.  Following is a list of ideas for projects.

Sumo Bot

A classic.  Must fit in the sumo bot sizer box.  Detect and push your opponent off of the ring.  Sample program available.

Paper Airplane Launcher

We’ve built it before so have some lessons learned.

Security turret that shoots rubber bands

Last year we almost completed this.  We could launch the rubber bands but hadn’t completed the motion sensing aiming features.

Rube Goldberg Contraption

A crazy endlessly repeating awe-inspiring machine of no specific purpose

Useless Box

Another project that can express your creativity while doing very little but doing it well.  The useless box has a switch that resets itself.  It can exhibit other behavior to confuse and confound the user.

Gyro Boy

AKA the Segway robot.  Use the gyro sensor’s data to drive the two large motors to balance your robot upright and move around.  Instructions in the book Learning LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3 (online version available through the Seattle Public Library)

Vending machine

It accepts different colored “coins” to dispense different items


Use the motors to move a pen to draw designs your program generates.  Instructions in the book Hacking Your LEGO® Mindstorms® EV3 Kit (online version available through the Seattle Public Library)

Raspberry Pi and Arduino

I would love it if a few students want to try to build a robot or robotic device using a Raspberry Pi or Arduino.  An Arduino is a microcontroller ready to program to read sensors and drive motors.  A Raspberry Pi is a low-powered computer which can run a variety of operating systems and supports many programming languages, and also can read sensors and drive motors.  It can also communicate over WiFi and Bluetooth and supports cameras.

Both require student initiative and research into projects that would be interesting.  They are much more open, flexible, and complicated platforms for robotics than the Lego robots, and they are not nearly as easy to get started.  Students will need to demonstrate they have researched how the platform works and understand the risks of damaging the hardware if wires are connected incorrectly.