Build your own robot car with the Raspberry Pi!

Build your own robot car with the Raspberry Pi!

Chapter 1 – Introduction:


Everything started with the search for grade and nice toys for my niece and nephew. In the popular Toy Stores you can only buy toys made of plastic. The quality, functionality and the material of the toys are cheap. It is difficult to find good toys which are durable and can be repaired by yourself. All the toys I have seen in the stores I didn’t like. This gave me the idea of the do it yourself toy car.

Let us build your own toys!

You do not need a high tech workshop. With all the tools you can buy today as a private person it is no problem. For the advanced of us they can own a 3D printer, a free CAD software and cheap electronics. With all the tools the only problem is the idea and the time.

Each chapter of my HowTo describes step by step the making of the Raspberry Pi WIFI radio controlled rc vehicle. For me it is important that all used software is for free and everybody should be able to build the car by his own. Of course the HowTo papers are also for free.

I would like to thank also my wife who supports me and always endures the transformation of the living room in a small workshop.

Raspberry Pi - Cardboard Car

Raspberry Pi – Cardboard Car


The Raspberry Pi is exactly the right computer for small technical craft projects for a few bucks. There are many books describing the Raspberry Pi and parts of the operation system linux but common to all books is the fact they are very superficial. The books never describing a project like building your own rc car with a Raspberry Pi. You will also find many posts and blogs describing parts of the steps you have to know to build a Wi-Fi controlled car but never the whole project. This gap closes my building instructions and at the end you will have a functional model of a Wi-Fi radio controlled rc vehicle.

Build your own robot car with the Raspberry Pi!

Build your own robot car with the Raspberry Pi!

Step by step to your own robot car
This book guides you in two parts through the project phases with the aim of building an individual, autonomously driving robot car. In the first part of the book you will learn the basics of robotics and the interaction of hardware, electricity and software. You build the chassis and wire the individual components - details can be found in the appropriate, richly illustrated chapters. An introduction to software installation and programming with Scratch and Python completes the first part. You do not need any previous knowledge in robotics and programming. In the second part of the book, you will familiarize yourself with the sensors required for autonomous driving. With the acquired knowledge you can individualize and further develop your robot car as you wish. The knowledge you acquire in this book will enable you to implement your own projects with the Raspberry Pi.

This book offers you that:
  • Simply get into robotics with the Rasperberry Pi without prior knowledge
  • Numerous illustrations, tables, circuit diagrams
  • Information boxes with useful tips also for other Raspberry Pi projects
  • Project code with syntax highlighting
  • Two car projects: remote-controlled robot car via WLAN and self-driving car
  • Hardware tips and recommendations for suitable accessories - Extensive project material as download: Raspbian image, parts list, chassis artwork and code
  • Special features: Easy and robust cabling, use of high-precision time-of-flight laser distance measurement sensors, introduction to servo motors and suitable servo controllers, control via gamepad, use of an OLED display
Your Rasbperry Pi driving instructor
Ingmar Stapel studied computer engineering and is currently working internationally as IT project manager and enterprise technical architect; in addition, he has been intensively involved with Raspberry Pi and robotics for years. He likes to share this knowledge with interested people from the tinkering scene at meet-ups on robotics. On his private blogs he also writes about many current technology trends.

With the latest version of the Raspberry Pi B+ lets nothing to be desired in making your own rc car. With the B+ model it is possible to build this car and to add additional functions like a camera on the top of a servo. The knowledge you need to build this car and to add new functions will you learn with my HowTo papers. At the end you can start with new projects like:

  • garage door opener with a Web-Interface
  • a rc controlled boote
  • upgrading your model trains with a live video stream
  • etc.

Why the Raspberry Pi

The Raspberry Pi is build from low power components like an ARM Processor. This makes it possible to power the Raspberry Pi with a 5v USB Power Bank for several hours with out a problem. I selected all the components with the goal to build the car with as little trouble as possible and with the greatest success. The conflict I had to solve was to pay as less as possible by the best functionality for the RC car. I hope I made the right selections.

Another reason was the big community which is available for the Raspberry Pi world wide to answer questions and to support the RaPi. A bunch of online shops offering extensions like the NoIR Camera modul or ultrasonic modules for robots. The driver and software support is hughe and easy to install. This little car is also possible with the Arduino but the Raspberry Pi is more like a personal computer.

The latest pictures and Videos:

For the first impression I uploaded a few pictures of my car.

You see the Raspberry Pi NoIR Camera and the WIFI antenna.

Cardboard robot front view

Cardboard robot front view

This is a picture from the back.

Cardboard robot rear view

Cardboard robot rear view


This video shows ma car and the test how good I drives around corners.


I wish you all much fun with the project and don’t hesitate to ask questions.


Chapter 1: Raspberry Pi WIFI radio controlled rc vehicle – introduction
Chapter 2: Raspberry Pi WIFI radio controlled rc vehicle – component list
Chapter 3: Raspberry Pi WIFI radio controlled rc vehicle – chassis
Chapter 4: Raspberry Pi WIFI radio controlled rc vehicle – wiring
Chapter 5: Raspberry Pi WIFI radio controlled rc vehicle – software installation
Chapter 6: Raspberry Pi WIFI radio controlled rc vehicle – power supply
Chapter 7: Raspberry Pi WIFI radio controlled rc vehicle – programing
Chapter 8: Raspberry Pi WIFI radio controlled rc vehicle – live video streaming
Chapter 9: Raspberry Pi WIFI radio controlled rc vehicle – web-interface and smartphone
Chapter 10: Raspberry Pi WIFI radio controlled rc vehicle – cooling with passive heat sinks
Chapter 11: Raspberry Pi WIFI radio controlled rc vehicle – startup scripts
Chapter 12: Raspberry Pi WIFI radio controlled rc vehicle – cardboard car model
Chapter 13: Raspberry Pi WIFI radio controlled rc vehicle – power consumption
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