What is a Raspberry Pi Car?

A Raspberry Pi is a credit card sized computer that can run Linux (and other OS) to do almost anything your computer can do. It can be simply connected to a monitor/TV, keyboard and mouse and be used as a regular computer. Because of its low power consumption, it is used as a web-server, file storage system, home automation system, etc. It can also be connected to an Arduino to aid in robotics such as the PiCar.

Arduino board is another small but important processing unit which has similar but different functions compared with Raspberry Pi. It’s not a capable device for a full operating system like Raspberry Pi with Ubuntu or Raspbian OS. The functions of it are mainly interacting directly with external equipments such as camera, lidar, IMU (inertial measurement unit) and motor. Since Raspberry Pi need to process the messages through layers to pass them via ports to other devices, Arduino is more efficient and powerful in this specific requirement.

Because Arduino is an open-source hardware, software and content platform, it’s intended for anyone making interactive projects. The first Arduino board was introduced in 2005 to help design students — who had no previous experience in electronics or microcontroller programming — to create working prototypes connecting the physical world to the digital world.


With the big picture in mind, we chose to implement those basic functions on the PiCar, a Raspberry Pi powered and wheeled robotic car as a research project. By implementing the obstacle avoidance feature onto the car, improving the existing object tracking feature, and eventually incorporating them together, we aim to create a powerful and practical algorithm that enables the car to follow certain object wisely without crashing into any obstacles. 

Click here to see the mechanical design of our PiCars

Click here to see the electronic design