Is Autonomy Possible?

I learned about your company today. Is it possible to use your products to build an autonomous robot, one that does not have to be controlled by a smartphone app? If so, is there an overview document of how this may be accomplished? I would rather not be told to refer to a few dozen different documents, each with low-level instructions for a small piece of the problem, and then be told that it is my job to figure out how everything is supposed to work together.





this is a great question!

Yes, our products can be used for building autonomous robots.

In fact, our RoboBoard X4 control board is designed specifically for that. It’s a compact Arduino IDE programmable ESP32 board with integrated motor drivers and bunch of other features.
Functionality can be expanded using TotemBUS modules, third-party Qwiic modules, or 4 GPIO pins.

We have RoboCar Chassis kit to use as a base for robot projects. Also, parts for building a robot (construction, motors, wheels) can be bought separately.

All information regarding programming can be found in webpage There is a documentation of using high-level functions for X4 motor and other feature control.
There are some code examples for using each functionality of the board.

What we currently lack is some more broad code examples (like complete working robot with all the sensors) and some more advanced input (like camera).
We are constantly working on our software and hardware improvements so feature set is always growing.


Tbis is something im looking into to, with the X4 board and the Black Spider kit.
Im going down the route of mounting a raspberry Pi (looking for a Pi Zero 2 for the final build), and using the Pi to communicate with the X4 via serial.

While Im working on a wevbserver for the Pi to allow web based control it is possible to use all kinds to control the thing. Its amazing.


One autonomous robot based on Totem is currently under construction :blush:


Thats looking really cool already, Dex!
Whats the plan for autonomy? Using the additional sensors modules and code on the X4 or something more exotic?

Im deaperate to tie my spiders into my Home Assistant setup using MQTT ha ha ha

We have a Robotic Day in Prague on Sunday and this construction is for example of how to build a simple autonomous robot from Totem. It will travel among visitors as an “advertisement”. And since two is more than one, I already have a Spider with the same sensor for the same purpose :grin:

One of my more sophisticated plans is to make a robot for Ketchup House

I love Lego, but Totem is much more invented for this and similar purposes.

As something more sophisticated for future, I plan to use X4 for all real-time tasks and some Raspberry Pi for camera experiments, etc.

Here is the latest photo from today:


@Dex, great looking robot! I like it already.

Also, this tournament got my attention. Nice to see Totem in the list of Approved Construction Kits!
Interesting to see, that mostly simple sensors and mechanics is enough to participate in competition. It quite heavily relies on programming and each category has it’s own challenge.

Seems like Totem electronics has a potential here. We have put some thoughts in new design, features and additional modules. Seeing Totem products out in the wild helps a lot! Adding camera and good integration with Raspberry Pi is one of the main goals. Also better software, documentation and examples will follow. It’s a huge work ahead of us, but maybe a robot made of Totem will be able to participate next year!


Thanks for the compliment! :slight_smile:
One of the reasons we added Ketchup House to Robot Day years ago was that beginners could build a simple robot from the cheapest Arduino or PICAXE. A “line follow” sensor can be used for orientation on the field, and two distance sensors at different heights are sufficient to detect ketchup cans and another robot. That’s all it takes to get a minimalist solution :slight_smile: And like you said, good code is the key, but no one needs the money for code :wink:
Of course, if there is a camera with an OpenCV capable for the robot, it can move faster and smarter, but it is not necessary and I have seen many times that less is more.
I think Totem with X4 are enough good today for Ketchup House, but of course all upgrades are welcome :grin:


That is looking fantastic! I love the larger wheel on there, and the frame looks robust too.
Im very tempted to order the motors/wheels and a new X4 to build one.

Thanks :slight_smile:

It runs well on the sidewalk outside and is robust enough. Stiffness can be easily increased by adding additional spacers to the base platform or by using metal strip.

I’ll probably disappoint you a little, but the wheels aren’t from Totem. I used standard wheels for RC cars (diameter around 110 mm) with a 17 mm hexagonal hub. The adapter between the motor and the wheel is “homemade solution” and I don’t know where to buy a similar one. I have been using this solution for many years, so it is proven.

Totem has little bit smaller wheels with motor adapter and it can it be enough too I think :wink:

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Im not disappointed ha ha, thank you for the information!
I’ll definitely have a look into picking up some Totem wheels for a similar build.

While im thinking aboht these things, Im sure I have a dfrobot Devastator platform that is currently lacking brains and batteries.
It’s a great looking platform and has lots of space for mounting modules, so I may look at digging it out and creating a frame to mount an X4 and battery components. Mounting everything to a tray-like frame will make accessing the internals a dream!

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Hey, that’s my idea! :smiley: I have Devastator in the box for a few weeks because I have a weakness for crawlers. I plan to try 12V motors and X4 etc. on it. And the Totem works very well as a mounting frame.

But when I compare the ability to cross the terrain, the 4WD chassis is better. Bigger wheels with more powerful engines are just more :wink:


Ha ha, yeah i get you on that one. Ive always wanted a really solid tank chassis to play with. The dfrobot chassis has so much promise, but I want something bigger and faster ha ha.
Still, it’ll be fun to mess arohnd with the devastator until then!

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