How to Build a Simple Robot Vacuum That Won't Break the Bank


Building your own robot vacuum can be a fun and rewarding project. With the right parts and a bit of diy know-how, you can build an automated vacuum cleaner on a budget. Here's how to get started.

Hardware Components

The core hardware you'll need includes:


This is the tiny computer that controls the robot. Popular options are Arduino or Raspberry Pi. These are inexpensive but powerful boards that are easy to program.

I went with a basic Arduino Uno, which provides enough processing power for a simple bot. It's also very beginner friendly.


You'll need at least two motors to move the robot around. Small DC motors are a good choice. Make sure to get ones that can run at 6 volts or so, along with a motor driver board.

For the vacuum itself, you can mount a small DC fan motor. It doesn't need to be high powered - just enough to create suction through a tube.


Ultrasonic sensors are essential for obstacle detection. These use sound waves to measure distance to objects.

Infrared sensors in the bumper can detect cliffs and collisions. Encoder wheels on the motors provide feedback for navigation.


For the body, you can repurpose a toy truck or tank chassis. Make sure it's big enough to mount all the components.

Alternatively, build a chassis from scratch using materials like acrylic sheets or plywood. Just make sure it's sturdy.

Battery Pack

You'll need a portable power source. A simple option is 4 AA batteries in a holder, which provides 6 volts. Lithium batteries work too for longer run time.


Here are the key steps in putting everything together:

Mount Motors

Attach the drive motors to either side of the chassis using brackets. Install encoder wheels on the motor shafts.

Install Sensors

Ultrasonic sensors go on the front and back. IR sensors snap into the front bumper. Make sure they're positioned well to detect obstacles.

Wire the Electronics

Connect all the components to the Arduino board. Motors go through a motor driver. Provide a separate power source for the Arduino.

Build the Vacuum

Use ducting, tubes, and a DC fan to create the suction system. Seal connections with tape to maximize suction.

Program the Arduino

Upload code to drive the motors, run the vacuum, and use the sensors to navigate and avoid obstacles.

Programming the Robot

The magic happens when you program the Arduino to operate everything. Here are some key operations to code:

Motor Control

Write functions to spin the drive motors at set speeds. Slow down and stop when sensors detect something close.


Use the encoders to navigate rooms in a logical pattern. Turn when hitting walls. Use ultrasonic data to avoid collisions.


Turn on the vacuum fan whenever driving. Adjust power levels as needed.


Return to a home base when battery is low. Resume cleaning when charged.

Testing and Iterating

With the build complete, it's time to test it out! Run the bot and watch how it performs. Make adjustments and improvements as needed.

Check Sensors

Ensure the ultrasonic sensors accurately measure distance to walls and obstacles. Adjust code as needed.

Improve Navigation

If the navigation logic isn't working well, tweak the code to make the movement more efficient.

Optimize Suction

If certain areas aren't getting cleaned well, reposition the vacuum tubing or increase fan speed.

Improve Chassis

If the chassis is unstable, strengthen it and lower the center of gravity. Adjust motor mounting as well.

With some trial and error, you can get your DIY robot vacuum working nicely! It takes some effort, but it's a great project to learn robotics skills. The end result is an automated cleaner you can build on a budget.