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Interface for controlling simple tread robot (with Raspberry Pi as brain). Robot can be controlled via CLI based commands or web application. Web application uses REST API, which can be used to make other apps.


Robot uses Raspberry Pi with Picoborg board to controll pair of treads. Motors are powered by two AA batteries, Raspberry Pi is powered via USB by a small powerbank. Robot is also equipped with camera.

** Somewhat important note about vertical flip: ** This project can be used with any generic robot controlled via Raspberry Pi (since all you need is two pins connected to motors and a camera).

However due to construction of the robot I used to implement and test this project, camera input is vertically fliped by default (when capturing images or streaming video).

If you want to alternate this behavior, you have to set appropriate parameters (when capturing still images via cli application or REST API) and/or set vflip flag in config.ini (for streaming video).


  • Python3.5 *
  • click
  • Flask
  • RPi.GPIO
  • picamera

These are requirements that can be installed via pip package manager. Web application also uses mjpg streamer, which is used to stream video from Pi's camera to the browser.

Streamer is a standalone program, and path to it has to be specified in config.ini file (more here).

Alternatively you can run web app without video stream.

(* Note that Python 3.5 is not in Raspbian repository, so you probably have to build it from source.)


You can get this package directly from github:

$ git clone
$ cd pytrobot
$ sudo python3.5 install

If you want to use application with mjpg streamer, you have to compile it, and then create config.ini file specifying its location.

Default location of the config.ini is /etc/xdg/pytrobot/config.ini.

#create default directory for config
$ sudo mkdir -p /etc/xdg/pytrobot/
#copy example config in place
$ sudo cp config.ini.example /etc/xdg/pytrobot/config.ini

config.ini should look like this:

path = /path/to/mjpg-streamer
fps = 25
resx = 640
resy = 480
vflip = 1

path should be pointg to the folder with mjpg_streamer executable. For example if you cloned mjpg streamer from Github to your default home directory, it will be /home/pi/mjpg-streamer/mjpg-streamer-experimental. Note there is no trailing /.

Streamer is used only in web application, so you don't need it for cli mode. If you don't want to install it at all, you can run web application with --no-stream option. In this case you don't need a config file.


Application works in CLI or WEB mode. Both modes provide simple interface for controlling the robot.

Since both modes require access to GPIO pins (for obvious reasons), you'll probably have to run them as root.

CLI Application

CLI app allows to send simple commands to controll the robot when connecting to Raspberry Pi via SSH.

# turn to the left
$ sudo pytrobot turn left
# take a shot with the camera
$ sudo pytrobot capture img.jpg

Web Application

Web application is written using Flask. It's main purpose is to provide simple interface for controlling robot and to display video feed from the camera. It also displays data from various sensors as well as Raspberry Pi status (IP address etc...). Other important role of web application is to provide REST API.

#run web app with default config.ini
$ sudo pytrobot web
#run web app without stream (no mjpg-streamer required)
$ sudo pytrobot web --no-stream

Web application will then be available at raspberrypi.local:5000.

Note that this application is not really meant to be used at public networks, since everything (including video stream) is available to anyone connected.

API is described in package documentation.


Package comes with a set of basic unit tests. You can run tests with following commands (you have to run them as root due to GPIO modules):

sudo python3.5 test
#or if you have already installed pytest
sudo pytest tests #note this is the only way to pass arguments to tests

These tests do not require config.ini in place and mjpg streamer installed.

Test requirements

Only requirement is pytest module. It will be collected automaticly when running sudo python3.5 test.

If you want to run tests with pytest command, you have to install pytest module with sudo python3.5 -m pip install pytest.


You can generate project documentation with Sphinx. First make sure it is installed:

#this only install Sphinx, since it is the only dependency
$ sudo pip install -r docs/requirements.txt

Then you can run make to generate html docs:

#this will create html documentation in docs/_build/html
$ cd docs
$ make html

To make sure Sphinx generate all documentation from docstrings correctly, you have to install the package (e.g. sudo python3.5 install) first.


Interface for controlling simple tread robot (via Raspberry Pi).




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