Thinking about building a robot to drive my trash can to the curb, and then drive it back home.

The can in question can be quite massive. It has big, beefy hard plastic wheels. Here’s what I’ve discerned so far:
I think I want a wedge shaped sled that can steer itself in between the wheels of the trash can (henceforth “TC”).
I want it to tilt the TC back to a rigid “leaning arm” and then do basic line following to the drop-off point.
Then, I want it to back off and, realistically, hide until the trash is collected by the big mechanical truck (It grabs the TC by the sides, elevates it, and dumps the contents into the hopper).
Then I want it to line-follow to where the TC should be and scan for a place to slide in, tilt it back, and bring it back home (my driveway is more than 80 feet long–this is non-trivial).
Currently, I’m thinking about an aluminum or steel base, some beefy batteries, and some modestly messed-up reflective tape around the base of the can (at robot’s eye view). When the tape gives a good optical return, the robot can be fairly certain it’s lined up relatively appropriately. —
Move half a meter closer, do a TC orbit, and see if it can find the “bright spot.”
When it does, it slides forward, until either a microswitch or an echo-locating distance sensor says, “Yeah, you’re there.”
Then, power a nut through which a threaded rod is threaded to tilt the can back into its cruising mode.
Then, line follow back home, deposit the can, and move to a nearby outlet (I don’t need it to plug itself in, though that would be really cool).

I have no idea about motors, encoders, or anything like that. I was thinking of using high-torque steppers and some gears. It doesn’t bother me if the TC moves up the driveway at less than a mile an hour.

Am I overthinking this?

Any advice would be appreciated.

submitted by /u/rasfert
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