Straight-line speed test

Time limit

5 minutes

Control method

Remote-controlled or autonomous

Aim of the challenge

The straight line speed course is a shallow trough of painted hardboard approximately 7.3m (24 feet) long with walls 67mm high and set 522mm apart. From a starting marker, the aim of the challenge is to drive in a straight line and cross a finish line. The course will be laser-timed for accuracy. A padded barrier will be placed at the end of the course (approx 50cm - 1m from the end of the trough) to stop the robots but it is to your benefit to work out some kind of 'emergency shut off' to avoid damaging your robot.

Speed Test


The course will be driven 3 times and the times added together to make a final time. The competing robot must cross the finish line for the time to be recorded. Ideally, your robot should drive itself autonomously (we think this would result in a faster run), but remote control is allowed.

There are additional points available on this challenge for autonomous operation. A "start" and a "stop" button are permitted (whether on the robot or on the controller). To be eligible for the 'three consecutive runs' points, you must complete all three runs autonomously. You will, however, be permitted to manually retrieve your robot from the end of the course and return it to the start without penalty.

Ranking and points

Competitors will be ranked according to the total amount of time taken to drive the course, the robot with the shortest time will take first place. Only those robots that have completed three runs will be eligible for ranking.

Points will be awarded to the top ranked robots like so:

  • 1st: 40 points
  • 2nd: 32 points
  • 3rd : 25 points
  • 4th : 18 points
  • 5th : 15 points
  • 6th : 12 points
  • 7th : 10 points
  • 8th : 8 points
  • 9th : 6 points
  • 10th : 4 points
  • 11th : 2 points
  • 12th : 1 point

Additional points

  • 5 points will be awarded for each completed run.
  • 10 points will be awarded for completely autonomous operation across all three runs.
  • 5 points will be awarded for each run where a remote-controlled robot does not touch the sides of the course.
  • 10 points will be awarded for each run where an autonomous robot does not touch the sides of the course.
  • The robot with the fastest single run will be awarded 10 additional points.


  • It is permitted to rescue the robot and place it back on the course at the place where things went wrong once per run without penalty but the clock will not be stopped.
  • An additional rescue is permitted, incurring a 15 second penalty.
  • A third rescue is not permitted, instead the run must be abandoned.
  • Abandoned or non-completed runs will be penalised by 1 minute.


5 thoughts on “Straight-line speed test

  1. What will the surface of the track be? Bare/painted playwood? Metal?
    Will there be a ‘run off’ area before the padded barrier? How long?

    1. Surface will be painted hardboard.
      There is a short run-off area before the padded barrier. I guess it’s about 50cm, something like that? It’s short enough that we don’t need to put sides up.

  2. What exactly counts as autonomous for this test? Does having a “start” and “stop” button count? What about “completely autonomous operation across all three runs?” Does this mean the robot has to drive itself back to the starting line?

    1. Hi.
      Having a start and a stop button is fine. It’s basically autonomous between the start and stop line.
      The robot does NOT have to drive itself back to the starting line. You’ll be able to retrieve it. 🙂


    2. Oh, thank you for the questions by the way. I’ve updated the rules accordingly with some additional clarifications.

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