One problem with the old 1981 Star Wars Kenner AT-AT Walker toy is that the thing’s size and general construction made it a pain in the butt to actually play with in any real capacity. Good luck letting kids play with one without them getting frustrated with its clunky movement. That’s why software engineer Dave Stein took it upon himself to create an AT-AT Walker—an All Terrain Armored Transport vehicle—that’s a little easier to move thanks to some clever Arduino work and an Xbox 360 controller.
Specifically, Stein used an Arduino Uno microcontroller board, an Adafruit Servo Shield as well as several servos, a whole bunch of general hardware store-type parts like spacers and screws, and the base frame of the AT-AT Walker to build the toy of his childhood dreams. It’s not finished just yet, but it can already move slowly—in true AT-AT fashion—and shift the head/cockpit area back and forth. Stein would eventually like to add several more features like wireless control and a head-mounted camera.
The Xbox 360 controller doesn’t seem to work like one might expect. The analog sticks are for the head, but it looks like the shoulder buttons are what move the actual feet. This is merely a case of what actions Stein’s programmed for the various buttons to send to the Arduino and therefore the modified toy. Anyone capable of building their own version should be able to reassign the buttons.
Though there's no detailed guide available just yet, Stein intends to eventually post a tutorial for how to modify one of the toys. For now, there's several different videos available that showcase Stein's version in various states of completion. There's also the website—aptly titled "At-At Walker Project"—which has a more detailed breakdown of parts and software required.