Educational Outreach

Obstacle Avoidance

obstacle avoidance demo


Learning Outcomes 

  • Understand how proximity sensor using IR emitters and receivers are used for obstacle avoidance.
  • Understand the electronic devices used
  • Understand the Arduino environment and IDE.
  • Understand the importance of blueprinting and creating an efficient design
  • Understand how collaboration as a team and specialization of tasks are used in developing a functional prototype.


  • 1 Ardunio Unit
  • 1 Parallex Board
  • 3 IR Emitter and Sensors
  • 1 Ball
  • 1 paperclip
  • 20 popsicle sticks
  • 7 220 ohm resisteors
  • 3 2k Ohm Resistors
  • 10 jump cables
  • 2 dc motors
  • 1 5 AA Battery Housing

How It Works 

During this activity you’ll each be assign a role; Electrical and Computer Engineer (ECE), Mechanical Engineer (ME), or Computer Scientist (CS).  The group’s goal is to communicate with each team and work together to use the tools provided to create a vehicle capable of obstacle avoidance. Each team within the group have parts that have been specifically assigned to them, however those parts require information from the other team to complete. At the end the group will present their vehicle where it must successfully maneuver and avoid obstacles around it.


  1. What have you learned about the importance of working as a team? Do you think in larger projects a single person can complete the project on their own?
  2. Given your assigned team (ME, ECE, or CS), what was the most challenging part of you goal? Did having other teammates help you achieve your goal? Describe any disagreements that the team had.
  3. Did the following activities increase your interest of a STEM education? Do you feel that you would have perform best on anther team (ME, ECE, CS)?

Extensions or Additional Resources