Here’s How to Make a Robot Out of a Piece of Pizza

If you’ve already read my completely free, totally awesome guide How to Make a Robot: the Ultimate Beginner’s Guide (2016 Edition), you should already know that robots can sense the world in ways that humans simply can’t.

The average homemade collision avoidance robot uses a cheap ultrasonic sound sensor to make its way around your house.

Blind, Squealing Bat Robots With Pizza For Skin

Ultrasonic sensors produce high frequency sounds that humans can’t hear.  If a collision avoidance robot “hears” an echo close by after it emits a high-pitched squeal, it stops and changes course.  If the way is all clear, it will keep on going in the same direction.

Believe it or not, good quality ultrasonic sensors are now cheaper than pizza.  It’s crazy how far robot technology has come in such a short time.

Pro Tip!  If you don’t already know how to make a collision avoidance bot, here’s a pretty good free plan for building an inexpensive one.

Installing Pizza “Skin”

If the idea of a bat-like robot screeching inaudible noises as it navigates your kitchen doesn’t freak you out enough already, how about a robot that can use a slice of pizza as its “skin”?

All you need to create a robot with pizza skin is a littleBits “MaKey MaKey” module.  The MaKey MaKey takes advantage of the fact that anything that contains water can conduct electricity.  Because there’s a small amount of water contained in pizza bread, it can easily be turned into a robotic sensory organ.

Click here to check the price of the MaKey MaKey on Amazon.

Once you convert your slice of pizza into a robot body part, you can program your robot to react in an unlimited number of ways to touch.  By default, the MaKey MaKey is programmed to activate various keyboard buttons.

how to make robot skin

For example: if you attach the end of some alligator clips to the “click” button and then attach the clips to a pizza, every time you touch the pizza MaKey MaKey will send a mouse click to your robot.

remap-makey-makey

If your robot can’t understand mouse clicks, no problemo.  Remapping the MaKeyMaKey is a pretty straightforward process.  Basically all you have to do is modify the MaKey MaKey’s settings.h file.  Modifying settings.h will cause the touch of a pizza to trigger any type of robot behavior you want.

Here are just a few ideas for ways you can make your robot to respond every time somebody touches its delicious, cheesy “skin”:

  • Blink its eyes.  To make a blinking robot, first you’ll need to create an animatronic eyeball out of servo motors and paper (or any other material you want).  Once you bring the robot eyes online, you could program the MaKey MaKey to move the eyelid motor every time someone touches the pizza.  Here’s an animatronic eyeball instructable you could mine for ideas.
  • Giggle (or scream).  First, you’d need to equip your robot with some type of speaker and the ability to play MP3s.  Then, you could program your bot to play a file (ex: giggle.mp3) everytime somebody touches the pizza.
  • Spin around in a circle.  Assuming that your robot has an Arduino microcontroller brain, you’d need to write an Arduino program that spins your robot around in a circle– or just download an Arduino program someone else has made.  Once you teach your robot how to spin, all you’d need to do is set up the MaKey MaKey so that it triggers the spin program every time someone touches the pizza.

Add some unpredictability

Robots that respond the same way every time are a bit boring.  In order to give your Pizza skin robot some personality, you could make it respond randomly to touch.  Creating a random robot would be pretty simple, because all you’d need to do is assign each possible action a number and then use the random function to determine how your robot will respond.

Random robots are more interesting than predictable ones.  But they are also kind of annoying.  If you wanted to take things one step further, you could program your robot to react differently depending on its current “mood.”

 

 

Stay tuned for robot project ideas and robot news!

Also, don’t forget to check us out on Facebook and on Twitter at @robotfanatics.  For more help building a robot, click here to read a comprehensive how-to guide.  For more info about the littleBits electronics learning platform, check out my detailed review.

About Alex Munkachy

Hello and thanks for visiting Robot Fanatics! The aim of this site is to introduce people to the fun and interesting world of robotics. Please like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @RobotFanatics.