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Robotics expedition

Mission 8 of 8

Rover Sensor Steering


1 hour

Ages 8+

Learn to use sensors as a variable input to steer the Robotic Rover.

Piperbot is too scared to look! Instead of using code to steer our Rover, you will use the Ultrasonic Range Finder as a distance measurement tool to drive the robot.

View student interface at



Adult Zomar

Computer with USB port and Chrome or Edge browser
Piper Make Base Station or Starter Kit
Piper Make Rover


Learning Goals

  1. Students will apply their understanding of variables by using them as inputs.  
  2. Students will strengthen their knowledge of how to manipulate a robot with wheels to turn accurately.  
  3. Students will create conditionals that execute commands based on a sensor input, also known as a variable input.  
  4. Students will learn to map the values from a sensor to an output like the servo. 
  5. Students will combine hardware and software components to collect and exchange data.

Career Connections

Robotics Engineer: Salary $104,600/yr
Automotive Engineer: Salary $95,300/yr
Civil Engineer: Salary $88,050/yr
Electro-Mechanical and Mechtronics Technicians : Salary $60,570/yr

Hardware Diagram

Code Diagram

Tutorial Steps



Troubleshooting Tips

  • Verify all your electrical connections, including that your Pico is connected to your computer. The servos may start turning. If so, then adjust the screw on the back by tiny amounts until they stop moving. 
  • DO NOT assemble the Rover until AFTER you have calibrated the servos. 
  • You may have fewer wires of the same color than is presented in the diagram. All other colored wires can replace the one(s) needed as long as the student remembers which color wire they replaced from the diagram in their design.  
  • It is common for students to be off by 1 or 2 holes when they make their connections. We recommend going through each build and making sure students have them connected correctly. 
  • If the Rover moves backward compared to the desired outcome, the wires plugged into GP0 and GP1 are swapped. 
  • To set the distance reading Ultrasonic Range Finder pin to 22, first click on 10, then click on the drop-down menu again, and you will see 15. Click once more, and 22 will show up. 

Our customer support specialists are on hand to ensure your implementation of Piper runs seamlessly.
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Material Library

A servo, which is short for servomotor, is a special kind of motor that is used to control something by moving it. A simple motor moved by spinning continuously. A servo turns to a specific position and it uses gears to transform the high speed of the motor into more force so it can move things more easily.

The servo is connected using three wires: one for ground, one for power, and one for a signal that tells the servo motor what position to turn to. The Pico tells the servo what position to turn to by changing the width of the pulse that it is sending out. A pulse with a shorter "ON" time will turn to one side, and a pulse with a longer "ON" time will turn to the opposite side.

The motor inside of the servo turns very fast, but it is also weak - it cannot apply very much force. The gears inside the servo convert the motor's high speed and low force into a slower speed with more force.

Standards Alignment