Building your own robot vacuum is a fun and rewarding project that can save you hundreds of dollars compared to buying a name brand model. With just a few cheap parts and some basic electronics and programming knowledge, you can make a DIY robot vaccum that cleans just as well, if not better, than the expensive models on the market.

Parts Needed

The most important part of the robot vacuum is the brain - this is a small microcontroller board that controls the motors, sensors and programming. The best option is the Arduino Uno or a compatible clone, which can be purchased for around $10.

You'll also need motors to drive the wheels - small geared DC motors work perfectly and cost just a couple dollars each. The robot needs 2 motors, one for each wheel.

The vacuum mechanism itself uses a cheap 12V vacuum motor and fan. These can be found in car vacuum cleaners and cost $10-15 on their own.

Finally, you need various mounting hardware, wheels, batteries and chassis parts to build the frame. Basic materials like MDF, plexiglass and plywood work well for this.

Here is a full parts list:

Total cost: Around $50

Physical Construction

The physical construction of the robot vacuum is straightforward. The most important consideration is mounting all components securely while allowing the vacuum motor and wheels to operate properly.

Some key steps for construction:

The chassis needs to protect the electronics while still allowing airflow for suction. Keeping a low profile helps clearance.

Arduino Programming

The Arduino board allows custom programming to have the robot vacuum navigate, clean and charge itself automatically.

Some key abilities our program needs:

While complex, open source Arduino libraries are available for things like mapping and navigation. The program can start simple and abilities can be added over time.

I started with basic movement and suction, then added bump sensing and an automatic stopping and return function. Experimenting with different algorithms is part of the fun and helps increase cleaning efficiency.

Thoroughly test all functions after programming to ensure the vacuum operates safely.

Improving Cleaning Performance

A key advantage of a DIY robot vacuum is the ability to customize and add upgrades that improve cleaning effectiveness. Commercial models are not designed for modification.

Some possible upgrades include:

Small tweaks like these can significantly boost how well the robot collects dust, dirt and pet hair from carpeted and hard floors. Some trial and error is required to find the best configuration.


Building your own vacuum cleaning robot is a fun electronics project that also results in a highly useful tool for keeping your floors tidy. By using low cost parts creatively, it can match or exceed expensive commercial models at a fraction of the price. Custom programming and upgrades also allow for maximum efficiency when cleaning. With a DIY design, you can create exactly the features you want.