Robot Maze

Here’s one way to build an inexpensive, reconfigurable maze for robot projects:

The goal was to build a reconfigurable maze or pen for small robots, like Lego Mindstorms or Scribbler. The constraints were

  • Maze walls must be heavy enough not to be displaced by robot collision.
  • We shouldn’t have to do any of our own wood- or machine-shop work.
  • We should be able to build and dismantle the maze quickly and easily.
  • We should be able to store the maze components in a small space.

Our solution was to build the maze walls from brick paving stones (“pavers”), around 7x2x4″ in size, and the floor from 2′ x4′ 1/4″ oak plywood paneling. The bricks cost around 50 cents apiece from construction/masonry supply stores like ConRock, and the plywood comes in 4×8′ sheets at around $24 each from hardware/lumber stores like Lowe’s or Home Depot. (If you’re not too worried about the smoothness or appearance of your floor, you can get 1/4″ plywood for less than half that price.) Lowe’s (and probably the other hardware/lumber stores) will cut the plywood down to 2×4′ pieces for a very modest fee (first few cuts are free), allowing it to be transported and stored easily.

The main problem with this solution is that bricks are sharp-edged and gritty, and they shed flakes and dust. Our solution was to dust each brick off and wrap it in duct tape. The images below show a quick and efficient way of doing this, using ordinary (1.88″) and extra-wide (2.82″) DuckTape. Here is a breakdown of the estimated cost:

Item Quantity Cost Each Total
Paving bricks 110 $0.50 $55
2′ x 4’x 1/4″ oak plywood 2 $24 $48
Duct Tape, 2.82″ x 60 yd 2 $10 $20
Duct Tape, 1.88″ x 55 yd 2 $7 $14
Grand Total $137

Here are some photos:

Materials for cleaning/wrapping brick Wrap edge with extra-wide duct tape Cut tape with single-edge blade
Stand brick on end Fold in edges Lay flat to fold in other side
4 normal-width pieces cover sides A finished brick The robot maze