I'd like to build a robot. Specifically, I'd like to build a semi-autonomous miniature look-a-like of Johnny 5 (from the Short Circuit movie). My background is in medicine (I'm a Radiologist) but I'm very competent at writing software and have some (limited) experience with AI / path-finding, etc (from writing games).
My issue is that I have very little experience on the hardware side of things. I currently own an Arduino UNO, a servo, some LEDs and basic components and have an ultrasonic range sensor on order. I have spent the last week or so getting a library up and running to control pins, etc on the Arduino from my Mac using my favourite programming environment (Real Studio) and that's coming along nicely.
Ultimately, I'd like the robot to be about 1-2 foot tall, have its motors/sensors/servos, etc controlled by Arduino and it's AI controlled by a custom programme written by my running on an inboard mini-PC (perhaps a pico-ITX board running Windows XP/7).
My question is a little vague but I really don't know where to start. I know I can't just go out and buy a prebuilt Johnny 5 kit for $1000 because my wife would definitely leave me! I need to start small and build up to my goal.
I thought about maybe prototyping a small version of the bot using Lego for the chassis/body?? Is that a stupid idea?
I have a couple of really basic questions, primarily related to the bewildering number of different components which mean nothing to somebody with limited electronics knowledge:
The robot is going to need at least a couple of motors to drive the tracks (or wheels in the prototype). What would be suitable to use with my UNO? I assume the motors have a small axel protruding from them - what would be the best size to get, etc?
I have a single servo on order (to tinker with to make sure my programming language can set specific degrees of rotation on it). Are there any good tutorials for beginners out there on how to physically connect servos to rods, levers etc so they can actually do something? It's all well and good being able to rotate a small plastic lever by 72 degrees but I don't even know where to begin when it comes to do something useful with them).
Apologies for sounding like a complete doofus but there seems to be soooo much basic ground to cover...