I'm going to convert a used Wall-E interactive toy into an autonomous robot. It comes with a remote control, so I plan to detach Wall-E's IR receiver, put it inside his body and have an IR transmitter send signals to trigger his mimics. That means less hacking around in Wall-E's guts. I will only need to add sensors and motors to his tank treads for smoother navigation.
I plan to add the usual sensors, like distance, acceleration and tilt (for when he falls over). I might also put a camera in one of his eyes (and a dummy lens in the other to match) and control his head movements from the microcontroller.
It would also be cool if the solar charge level display on his front would be an actual display showing the battery level. Even cooler if he had pop-up solar panels like in the movie and could charge himself. A laser pointer would also be fun. And I hope to one day be able to improve his head and arm movements, and maybe add those charming mechanical eye lids.
To drive his little tank treads
L293D Motor Driver
To drive the DC motors that drive his little tank treads
Ultrasonic front and back under his body + IR under his eyes?
To call for help when falling over
To sense when it's picked up or moved around
I just found out from looking at YouTube videos that the toy can only go forwards and turn left. No right turns and no reverse. I suppose that makes for an unpredicable and fun toy, but I have a feeling it's not going to work that well for a robot..
So I'm thinking of using DC motors to control his tank treads after all, and use the IR for his mimics only (voice + head and hand gestures). That gives me a lot more control over his movement, while still getting a wide range of typical Wall-E mimics "for free". Sounds good!
As for acquiring a Wall-E, I missed out on one that was sold on Ebay for just $35 this morning (by oversleeping). I'm now tracking two others in the same price range, hoping to get one within the next few days. So hopefully within two weeks time the fun begins :)