IEEE-RAS and University of Maryland College Park Electrical and Computer Engineering

Robots Speedway


September 6, 2008

* Location: University of Maryland, College Park Campus


Robot competitions are entertaining and a means for evaluating the performance of mobile, autonomous robots for a given fitness evaluation. Ranging from mobile, autonomous wheeled vehicles such as the Grand DARPA Challenge to cooperative teams of humanoid robots that compete in soccer, such as RoboCup, the challenges are typically representative of the kind of engineering problems that extend the boundary in Artificial Intelligence, Computer Vision, and Automation. The fitness evaluation can be duration in time to complete a task, ability to complete a sequence of tasks to meet a goal, and ability of robots to handle uncertainty. This is the first annual small autonomous robot speedway race. For this race, the metrics are measuring endurance and speed for an autonomous robot around a circuit for a total of  1 mile = 1,609.344 meters.


At the beginning of each racing event, your robot will run a separate sprint of at least 100 m. During this sprint, officials will determine the safety and ability to compete with other robots while on the track. Anyone wearing clothing the shade of the traffic cones will not be permitted near the competition site.

People may not loiter near the track and field during competition, tryouts, or when robots are being tested. Spectators and miscellaneous team members must view from the stands.


The location is University of Maryland College Park's intraumural field nearby. The track is oval-shaped with 2-axis of symmetry comprised of a series of orange cones. The surface is pavement or grass. There will be only 1 lane available.


Please contact us by May 30, 2008 with a succinct statement of how you expect to benefit from your participation and why you should be selected (emphasize skills and experience with respect to the requirements of the competition) to To discuss rules and post updates or to share pages about your project, it is recommended to register for an account at

Google Groups
Autonomous Small Robot Speedway Competitions
Visit this group

If selected, you are expected to publish your robot's engineering design team online. Also you must attend seminars, tryouts to be held at the University of Maryland over the course of the summer.


The date for the competition is September 6th, 2008 and will be hosted at the University of Maryland College Park Campus by the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department.


1. This is a a test for distance, mobility and safety on the track-and-field. During tryout, each robot will be raced separately in the circuit.

2. The length of a robot is the distance from the back to the front of the robot. Any portion of the robot length that crosses over the finish-line. The length of the track will depend on the location of the competition. The robot that crosses the finish line over a 1 mile distance in the least amount of time and the least number of penalities (yellow flags) is the winner.

3. Robots will be raced separately.

4. Robots must be completely, and truly autonomous. Remote operators must start/stop their robots in their tracks by a single dedicated remote operator/driver. The remote operator must be designated at the start of the competition.

5. The robot must be wheeled. No tracked robots are allowed on the asphalt or grass surface.

6. Robots must begin the race when the flagman indicates it with a green flag. The robot does not have to detect flag settings. It is up to the remote operator to keep track of the flags.

7. The flagman has complete control of the race using green, yellow, and red flags. Green flag means start. Yellow flag is given when a penalty occurs. Three yellow flags during a race signals that the robot is out of the race. In the event of a red flag, the robots must stop as soon as safely possible. In an event of an emergency, the robot race will re-start in the place where they stopped. The robot does not have to automatically detect the flag color. The flags are meant for the remote operator and the audience.

8. Robots not running at competitive speed or do not maintain a reasonable position around the track will be given a yellow flag and penalized. A racing speed is 0.5 meters/s or higher.

9. The Officials have the right to call any aggressive or rough driving robot that results in a yellow flag condition. The penalty for this kind of erratic driving is that the robot will be sent to the rear, or if it is a severe case, will be sent to the pit area and disqualified.

10. Any competitor involved in three (3) yellow flag incidents during a feature event will be sent to the beginning of the track or disqualified. This includes but is not limited to, spin-outs, accidents, and stopping on the track causing the yellow flag to be displayed.

11. No work by the crew or driver may be performed on any robot at any time on the track surface.

12. No crewmembers are allowed on the track except as requested by track officials. Failure to comply will result in immediate disqualification.

13. In the interest of the competition, during caution periods, officials may assist all competitors with minor repairs. The official will decide whether the car needs to be sent to the pits for repairs.

14. The robot size must be in the range of 10x10x10 cm to 60x60x60 cm. This is a guideline and not a hard rule.

15. At the end of the competition, the top three winners must share their program-code, robot-design online!

16. The robot navigates the elliptical course by detecting orange traffic cones placed approximately 5-10 ft apart. The exact length, width, and circumference of the race will not be known until the day of the competition.

17. Robots cannot be tethered.

18. No aircraft is permitted.

19. The width between the inner cone and the outer cones will be 100 cm.

20. The robot must stay within the inner cone and the outer cones.

21. Robots that go outside the outer cones will receive a red flag. The race will be stopped at that point and the time and distance will be recorded.

22. There will be 3 rounds. The best round of 3 will be used.

23. The minimum turning and maximum turning radius could range between 5-20 meters.

24. A robot that knocks over or displaces a cone will receive a yellow flag meaning a penalty. A good rules of the thumb is to try to maintain a distance away from the cone.

25. Cooperative robot teams are permitted.

26. Robots that run on fuel or any alternative energy is permitted.

27. Competitors must not wear any shade of orange during tryouts or competition.

28. Do not pre-programming a model of the track in memory. Remember the robots must be truly autonomous (see rule 2).

29. The inner cones are orange, approximately 9 inches in height and has a base diameter of 5 inches. It has a 7/8 inch diameter tip.

30. Each team's RC transmitters frequency channel must be registered before competing. In the event that a team has the same channel as another team, your team will have to take turns testing your robots.

31. The FCC does not permit RC aircraft transmitters 72 MHz for use in surface vehicles. Aircraft RC transmitters will  not be allowed during the competition. Refer to a radio frequency charts for allowable surface RC frequency channels:

As an alternative your team might use the spread spectrum RC transmitters which have no interference.

31. Team members must wear protective shoes such as sneakers. Open toe shoes will not be allowed near the robots during competition or tryout.

32. The speedway race will now occur on pavement rather than the grass soccer field.

33. The distance between the inner and outer cones will be approximately 3-5 ft.


1. Spectators must remain in the bleachers and never approach the track-and-field at any time during a competition or tryout.

2. Spectators must not wear orange on tryout or dates of competitions.


First Prize: $500.00

Second Prize: Cash award or related-vendor products.

Third Prize: Cash award or related-vendor products.


Those interested in helping during this race event could contact us at with your interest and availability.