Sparkfun Autonomous Vehicle Competition

Arduino Fun & Games Robotics
Sparkfun Autonomous Vehicle Competition

Sixteen teams gathered today to determine whose autonomously-navigating vehicle would be the fastest around the Sparkfun headquarters in Boulder, CO.


Four-wheeled rovers (typically built on RC car platforms) dominated the entries, but there were three flying UAVs, and one spheroid (Nathan, with “labrat”, pictured at right). One team had been designed a tethered model rocket to fly the course, but, unfortunately, didn’t compete.

The race was structured as 3 heats. Each vehicle got 5 minutes to attempt a run; best time overall won the competition.

The first heat got off to a rough start. Only about half of the robots made it to the first corner of the building, and only the Mookie Mobile Death Pod 3000 made it around the whole course.

A slight wind from the West seemed to be affecting the DIY Drones‘s ability to precisely line up with the course route. It completed many test runs very well, but its first two official runs were disqualified for slightly cutting the corner of the course. The plane also found itself in multiple trees. The Boulder Fire Department was kind enough to help out with one, and other was low enough to get by hand.


The ground-based vehicles had other obstacles to deal with, including curbs, and people who foolishly think that curbs are a safe place to stand.

After nearly hitting its creator, Ohcraptheresalake! (who later went on to discover the creek) goes after innocent bystanders:


Entrants used the time between heats to tweak their robots according to the lessons learned from the previous run. Death Pod 3000, the only robot to complete the course in the first heat, solidified its lead in the second by lowering its time to 1:28.


In the end, though, the DIY Drones team scored a stunning success with their final try, with Chris Anderson’s UAV completing the course in 36 seconds to win the tile!

The competition is over! Diy drones is 1st, with deathpod3000 taking the Engineers Choice award. Thanks for following!!! See you next year!

Jordi launches the DIY Drones UAV:


This robot used sparklers to avoid collisions with pedestrians:


All set on the starting line:



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