The Off-Road Roomba

Sure, your Roomba picks up dust, but can it climb rocks and avoid obstacles? It will if you follow the example of Dean Segovis and dissect your Roomba robotic vacuum to build this killer makeshift Earth rover.

Segovis used the motors, controller and battery pack from your basic robotic vacuum cleaner and combined those with with an upgraded ultrasonic sensor for terrain detection, and tied it all together using the maker community's favorite microprocessor, the Arduino. Take all that nerdware and toss it into a simple, box-shaped frame with Rocker-bogie suspension (same thing the Mars rovers use) and off it goes to tackle the California terrain. It's a first effort and performs like one, getting stuck because of too-small wheels, flipping over from a weird center-of-gravity, and avoiding easily scaled obstacles. Dean's got plans to build one about twice this size and remedy some of these first-effort foibles, but still it's a pretty cool little project. [HackADay]