Fun project idea: laser-guided robot

In summary: Of course, this is a very basic design, and there are many ways to improve it. You could add a microcontroller to control the motors, or add a directional sensor to the robot so that it can turn based on which way the laser is pointing.
  • #1
I know this has been done on a larger scale but I was thinking of playing around with something simpler. My idea was to try to build a simple little robot that follows the point of a laser. It doesn't have to be elaborate: even if it just follows the laser around a few inches in front of it, it'd be a neat little thing.

In doing some initial googling, I unfortunately only found a ton of hits on laser-guided military weapons which isn't what I'm looking for and is of no use to me.

Any ideas on a good starting point, resources, etc? I found some projects a while back that involved a robot that would walk in a path and change course if it contacted an obstacle. I'm not sure if I can relatively easily adapt something like that to work with lights/lasers.

Any guidance would be appreciated. :)
Engineering news on
  • #2
You might be able t get a LegoBot line follower to do it, and let me _again_ plug
the Mark III robot which has some line following sensors included:
and a programmed PIC chip to run it.

The trouble is staying in front of the 'bot if you are thinking of shining the laser on the ground.
  • #3
Actually, military laser-guidance system, when simplified to the basics, is not that complex, and you can build a robot that follows a laser dot without a use of MCU. Purely analogue design. All you need are a few parts you could even buy at radio shack and something to use for your bot.

First, consider a very simple light-following bot. Simplest design would use a platform with tracks, so that it's very easy to turn, but you can expand this design to a steering version. On the front of the bot place two photo-transistor "eyes". You want each one to have a slightly-overlapping FOV, but mostly to have one pick up light from one side, and the other from the other. Usually, with photo-transistors that have rounded caps, you can just point them at slightly different angles. Feed voltage from photo-transistors to a differential amplifier, and output of differential amplifier to the amplifiers driving the two motors. With the right bias on motor amps, it should be easy to make the bot turn towards the light.

Now the trouble with laser-guidance is that you can't make the laser dot so bright that it outshines all ambient light. But you can do another clever thing. You can modulate the light of the laser. Simply power the laser diode with AC at a fixed frequency. A simple low-high square wave should be sufficient. Now add an LC filter tunned to the same frequency after each photo-transistor. You might end up having to add a pre-amplifier before and/or after the filters to make it work, but ultimately, you do the same thing. Feed this to differential amplifier, and from there to motors.

With this setup, as long as the laser dot is in bot's field of view, and sufficient light intensity makes it to the bot's "eyes", it should be able to follow your laser's dot, and only your laser's dot.

The individual components you need here are fairly easy to find. If you look up LC filters, amplifiers, and differential amplifiers on-line, you should be able to find good schematics. All you'd have to do is put it all together.

What is a laser-guided robot?

A laser-guided robot is a type of robot that uses a laser beam to navigate and make precise movements. The laser is usually directed by sensors, allowing the robot to follow a specific path or target.

What are the applications of a laser-guided robot?

A laser-guided robot has many applications, including industrial manufacturing, military operations, and even entertainment. They can be used for tasks that require high precision, such as welding, cutting, and painting.

How does a laser-guided robot work?

A laser-guided robot works by using sensors to detect the laser beam and determine its position and orientation. This information is then used to control the robot's movements and ensure that it follows the desired path or target.

What are the benefits of using a laser-guided robot?

The use of a laser-guided robot offers several benefits, including increased accuracy, efficiency, and safety. These robots can perform tasks with higher precision and speed, reducing the risk of errors and accidents.

Are there any limitations to using a laser-guided robot?

While laser-guided robots have many advantages, they also have some limitations. They require a clear and consistent line of sight for the laser beam to function properly, and they may not be suitable for use in environments with a lot of dust or smoke.

Suggested for: Fun project idea: laser-guided robot