Seeking Guidance on Selecting Microcontrollers for a Robotics Project

Hello Community,

I am currently working on a robotics project and need guidance on selecting the right microcontroller. The project involves controlling multiple actuators, sensors, and communication modules. Could anyone recommend microcontrollers that offer robust performance, sufficient I/O pins, and compatibility with various sensors and actuators?

Additionally, I’d appreciate advice on integrating wireless communication capabilities.

Furthermore, I am curious about industry trends in microcontroller development and any emerging technologies that could enhance my project’s capabilities.

I gone through this Education - Electronic Component and Engineering Solution Forum - TechForum │ DigiKey Info but didn’t get any help.

Thank you in advance for your insights and suggestions!

With best regards,


There is no “right microcontroller,” only options to choose from that come with different balances of capability and benefit.

To evaluate those options critically, you’d need to do a few things:

  • Translate “robust performance” into a precise specification encompassing things like number of calculations per second, power consumption, and environmental tolerance parameters.

  • Translate “sufficient” into an integer or two and “I/O pins” into a type specification (e.g. digital, analog, and specifications for each)

  • Enumerate what sensors and actuators are to be used and the interface requirements for each. This is usually a prerequisite step for the one above.

Alternatively, one can pick something that looks good, work with it until a sufficient understanding is gained to either solve the problem at hand with it or recognize the need for something different, rinsing, repeating, and reincorporating knowledge gained until the goal is met.

These days, a lot of folks are starting out with the arduino ecosystem because it abstracts away a lot of messy details, makes it easy to leverage other people’s work for one’s own purposes, and reduces the cost of changing the underlying hardware. It’s a reasonable option for many purposes, but there’s always a measure of risk in blindly building on foundations laid by others.

As for “wireless communication” the same need to clarify applies; it could conceivably mean anything from a wireless one-button remote control to wi-fi to DXing on the 20-meter ham band. That said, there are a lot of options for such things within the arduino ecosystem. If you choose to start there, you might as well start there…

Hello jamesbolt,

Please allow me second @rick_1976 comments about microcontrollers.

You asked about trends, that’s a challenging question as the options are simultaneously expanding in all directions. Many people focus on the top of the line 32-bit devices with multiple cores and the ability to run Zephyr or even Linux.

Fair enough.

Yet at the same time the performance of even the most miniscule microcontroller is improving. For application that low cost and battery powered it’s hard to beat an 8-bit micro. Personally, I don’t see these devices going away in my lifetime.

Abstraction to save time and reduce complexity is an important part of this movement.

You mentioned the education location in the DigiKey forum. By chance did you see this article regarding PID control using a servomotor. While the featured device does not directly fall into the “robotics” bin, it is close. The article and supporting pieces lay the ground word for an Arduino microcontroller, real time operating system considerations, and motor control.

Finally, you mentioned sensors and actuators. I’m wondering if your project may be better suited using industrial and automation components. A Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) may be a better fit as it was designed to operate as part of a larger ecosystem of sensors and actuators. You could think of the PLC as a hardened microcontroller where all of the protection and electrical interfaces are prebuilt.

Kindly tell us more about your project so that we can provide improved alternatives.