littleBits Projects: Robots that React

This is part of an on-going series of posts about littleBits projects. littleBits is available in the Adafruit store – Starter Kit, Extended Kit, Deluxe Kit, and Synth Kit.

We are very excited about some of the new projects that we’ve been working on as well as the projects that the littleBits community members are coming up with. In this post, we will showcase robots that react to their environments in a variety of ways and rely on no programming whatsoever. The following robots are able to navigate a space and each depends on a different set of sensors to do so.

Creepy Crawly Cockroach

Through a combination of LEGO and littleBits, we were able to create a super smart cockroach that reacts to its environment just like a real one would. It is able to navigate tricky spaces and it scurries when it is exposed to light. When it finds a dark place to hide, it lays low and stays put.

How it works:

Navigation – The two bend sensors act as sensing antennas to help the cockroach navigate its surroundings. When the cockroach approaches a wall, the closest bend sensor will be activated. This will cause the opposite wheel to stop spinning due to the inverter before the dc motor, steering the cockroach away from the wall.

Shadow Seeking – The cockroach has two light triggers. The light trigger is set on light mode, so when each of the sensors sees light, the wheels spin. When a light trigger sees darkness, it’s corresponding wheel stops spinning, making it so the cockroach turns toward the darkness. If both light sensors are in the darkness, the cockroach stops moving completely.


Robot Butler

This smart little creature roams the table on a central wheel that is connected to a dc motor. Little plastic arms activate three roller switches on the side as they bump into cups and bowls, causing the robot to turn and try elsewhere. This happens because there is an inverter in between the first dc motor and a second dc motor positioned on the edge. More info about the circuit here.


The Simple Line Follower

This project, submitted by one of our community members, is a vehicle that is able to follow the twists and turns of a line made from black tape. It has two bright LEDs, two light sensors, and two dc motors. It works by illuminating the floor’s surface with the bright LEDs. The light sensors then pick up the reflected light from the floor. Lighter-colored surfaces (the floor) reflect more light than dark surfaces (the black tape). When one of the light sensors senses the lower reflectivity of the black tape, its corresponding dc motor slows down, thus turning the vehicle and keeping it on track.


Make a robot friend with Adafruit’s CRICKIT – A Creative Robotics & Interactive Construction Kit. It’s an add-on to our popular Circuit Playground Express, FEATHER and other platforms to make and program robots with CircuitPython, MakeCode, and Arduino. Start controlling motors, servos, solenoids. You also get signal pins, capacitive touch sensors, a NeoPixel driver and amplified speaker output. It complements & extends your boards so you can still use all the goodies on the microcontroller, now you have a robotics playground as well.

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