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Spool Bot

Spool Bot is a wheeled robot capable of navigating complex indoor environments.  It is made with empty filament spools, caster wheels from an old office chair, and some custom parts made on a 3D printer. It senses the environment using a depth camera and moves around using 2 standard servos. The brains are provided by an Arduino microcontroller and a laptop. The power for the robot comes solely from the laptop eliminating the need for external batteries.

So it may seem strange that a project devoted to bipedal robots would create a wheeled robot, but spool bot was created as a way to try out sensor and computing platforms for future bipedal robot prototypes.  It has the advantage of being able to heft heavy computers without having to balance on spindly legs.  Once Spool bot has helped identify a suitable combination of sensors then the job of shrinking and lightening the computer will be undertaken.

  • Good platform for testing sensor and computing packages
  • Autonomous navigation via a depth camera
  • Inexpensive and built from spare parts
  • Powered completely from the laptop

Complete parts list (spreadsheet of every part including source and cost)

1. Get the parts, print the pieces, and assemble the Robot:

Spool Bot Instructions

Upload the motor control code onto the Arduino

3. Install the robot control application on the laptop.

Model Files
Creative Commons License

Spool Bot Model (blender file)

Software Files

Motor Control code for the Arduino (arduino pde file)
Robot Control Application for the laptop (Windows binary)
Robot Control Application for the laptop (source files)


 Microcontroller    Arduino Uno
 Actuation  2 DOF ( 55g servo)
 Sensors Xtion Pro depth camera
  $250* : $230 parts + $20 consumables

 Build Time 
 about 13 hours : 12 hours printing + 1 hour assembly

                                *excludes shipping costs