How to Build a Simple Wi-Fi IoT Robot With an ESP32 and Raspberry Pi That Nobody Else Knows About

I have been fascinated with building robots from a young age. Recently, I discovered a way to build a simple Wi-Fi enabled robot using just a few components that most hobbyists likely already have on hand - an ESP32 microcontroller and a Raspberry Pi. This combination allows you to control a small robot remotely using Wi-Fi, opening up many cool project possibilities.

Selecting the Right Hardware Components

The key components I used for this project are:

This combination of readily available components enabled building a Wi-Fi controlled robot on the cheap!

Hooking up the Electronics

With the main components selected, I first wired up the ESP32 and the motor driver:

Next, I added connections between the ESP32 and Raspberry Pi:

Finally, provide power:

With the basic electronics hooked up, it was time to program each device.

Programming the ESP32 and Raspberry Pi

To program the ESP32, I used the Arduino IDE with the ESP32 add-on. This allows programming the ESP32 using familiar Arduino functions.

The code loaded on the ESP32 accomplished a few key tasks:

For the Raspberry Pi, I wrote a simple Python script:

With these programs loaded on each device, I now had bi-directional communication between the ESP32 and Pi!

Controlling the Robot Remotely

To wirelessly control the robot, I simply needed to send HTTP requests to the web server running on the ESP32.

For basic manual control, I used a simple web interface on my laptop with buttons to:

By clicking a button, it would send a request like to the ESP32 to drive the motors.

I could also control the robot by curling URLs from the command line. This enabled scripting more complex movements.

Finally, for voice control I made a Python script that uses Speech Recognition to listen for commands and then curl the appropriate URL to the ESP32. Now I could simply say "Move forward" and the robot would spring to life!

Wrapping Up

Building this simple Wi-Fi robot ended up being a fun weekend project using components I already had on hand. With an ESP32, Raspberry Pi, and a few other electronics, I was able to create a robot that can be controlled from anywhere!

While basic, this project provides a foundation for building more advanced Wi-Fi robots. Some ideas for enhancements include:

I learned a ton about interfacing microcontrollers and single board computers on this robot project. Let me know if you end up building your own ESP32 Wi-Fi robot!