The Dalek Robot – Exterminate, annihilate, destroy!

This Dalek Robot goes out to all the Doctor Who fans. Perhaps the Doctor’s most iconic enemy, the alien mutants in robotic shells known as Daleks are simultaneously terrifying and hilarious.

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Who fan Andy Grove set out to build one, smartly combining the Raspberry Pi and Arduino:

I have used an Arduino Uno to monitor two ultrasonic sensors in the base of the Dalek and send the results over the USB serial interface to a Raspberry Pi which then plays an MP3 clip. I used a separate Arduino board to provide sound to light functionality to drive the dome lights.
I could have achieved the results I needed using just the Arduino or the Raspberry Pi but it seems to me that the Arduino is better suited to low-level functions interacting directly with sensors and motors and so on, whereas the power of the Raspberry Pi is that it is a fully functional Linux computer for tasks requiring more computational power, and where I can easily use existing skills to leverage the Internet later on. Eventually I plan to put motors in the dome and a webcam in the eye so that the Dalek can look directly at people that approach. I also want to have a Web interface to be able to control behavior.

Putting together the electronics was faster than building the bulk of the robot, made mostly of plywood, cardboard, and papier-mâché. Grove got the Dalek ready for this past Halloween, saying “[t]he construction took five months, with some time spent working on it almost every weekend.”


The finished Dalek Robot was absolutely worth the effort. Not only does it look like a Dalek, it’s also able to utter the evil robot species’ evil catch phrase:

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