Heat Tracking Robot Arm/Head

Ok, I have been wondering if it would be possibly to build a robot head or arm that tracks thermal energy. You know how there are special thermal cameras that show areas of higher temperatures in different colors? I'm guessing those are pretty expensive, so would there be a simpler and cheaper way of building a thermal sensor? I was thinking of PIR sensors, but they can't really sense how hot something is, just if what its looking at is hotter than average.

My idea was to build a soldering iron tracking robot arm that would follow your soldering iron around with a fan, sucking away all the fumes. It would need a distance measuring sensor too, so it stays the right distance away. But simpler would just be a robot head that finds the hottest object in the room and then tracks it. Waddya think?

The cheapest and easiest way

The cheapest and easiest way I know of is to use the Thermal Array Sensor.


PIR has lots of disadvantages

The PIR is not meant to act as a camera. Maybe several of them in an array might do the trick. That would porbably be called a Thermal Array Sensor.

More info on PIR here.

You will need a thermopile

You will need a thermopile sensor for heat detecting. On my Asuro robot I’ve been using the Arexx Snake Vision module with 2 thermopile sensors (TPS334). It works really great and cost around 30€ as a kit here in Europe. Don’t know if you can get it in your country.


Maybe the Wii IR Camera can be used, too. But I'm not sure if this will work with such kind of IR sources.

actually, most cameras can

actually, most cameras can see IR, you need to remove the IR filter from the lens, and put on a filter that blocks visible light.

Thanks! Those are great. The

Thanks! Those are great. The thermal array sensor from robotshop.com is exactly what I was looking for.

I want to build one

Hi Caleborp,

The post is pretty old. Writing here anyway. I’m looking to build a robot head which can track body heat and rotate towards the heat source. Were you able to build one? Can you share.