I have discovered a new love in life, robotics. My desk is currently covered with robotic guts all over. I blame this new era on a cool magazine I came across called Makers Magazine. Its tracks this group of semi artist semi computer nerds who make stuff out of other stuff.
A sub culture of it uses the Arduino mini controller boards to automate computer human interfaces. In simple terms, these little controllers, can be used to control servos, or sensors like Sonic Range Finding, Inferred (flames), digital Temps, humidity, and a range of other choices.
In fact, one of the first things you do, once you get one of these little units, the current starter model is called the Uno. Its for sale at a Radio Shit for about $32 or you can order one online and get it for about $12 or so. Ya, the retail market is that high on these. The units are open source, and multi companies are now selling their own identically performing units, or close to the same.
They have smaller versions than the Uno, and larger more powerful Mega versions that retail for $60 or so, but can be bought for less than $20 if you shop around. This is all background, for the adventure of making your own bot.
I started off by walking into a Radio Shit, buying a RC car and an Uno plus some wires, bread board and some LEDs lights. The software to program and change the Uno is also open source and is easy to learn. It uses a form of C language, with uploads handled with the push of a single button.
It took a week or so before I had a crashing bot, and another week or so before I had a bot that tried to actually dodge walls vs aiming for them. It seems you can code bots into wall seeking darts, but that is another story.