How to Build a Collision Avoiding Robot for Less Than Ten Pounds

Alasdair Allan
2 min readApr 4, 2019


How cheaply can you build, rather than buy, a robot? Les Pounder recently set himself the task of building a robot for less than £10. That’s probably between $13 and $15 depending how the exchange rate is doing today, and it isn’t a whole lot of money to build a robot. However Pounder succeeded, managing to squeeze building an obstacle avoiding robot into his £10 budget, in the end spending just £9.30 on his new robot.

“Build a cheap robot using the ATtiny85 microcontroller.” (📹: Les Pounder)

Built around an Microchip ATtiny85 and a L9110S motor controller, the robot makes use of a cheap off-the-shelf infrared obstacle sensor module and a couple of DC motors, along with some really rather simple Arduino code to autonomously avoid obstacles in its path.

Documenting the iterative process he went through to try and squeeze the cost of his robot under the £10 budget, Pounder has fully documented the build on his site, and in the project’s Github repo.

Fritzing diagram of the robot’s wiring. (📷: Les Pounder)

The final build is still being tweaked, and might even have a few more pence shaved off the final cost. But I still can’t decide whether I’m surprised or not that Pounder has managed to get under budget. While our computing is now practically free, things like motors and batteries aren’t.

The final build. (📷: Les Pounder)

So I’m going to set you all a challenge. You have ten British pounds, or fifteen American dollars, what’s the best robot you can build with it? You can build a line following robot, one that avoids obstacles, or well, whatever you like, but it has to be cheap, it has autonomous, and it has to be on or under budget.

Ok, go! Tweet me when you’re done..?



Alasdair Allan

Scientist, Author, Hacker, Maker, and Journalist.