Straight-line speed test


Time limit

5 minutes

Control method


Aim of the challenge

The straight line speed course is a shallow trough of painted hardboard approximately 7.3m (24 feet) long with walls 64mm high and set 534mm 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 barrier will be placed at the end of the course (approx 50cm – 1m from the end of the course) 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.

The robot must be autonomous. A “start” and a “stop” button are permitted (whether on the robot or on the controller). You will, however, be permitted to manually retrieve your robot from the end of the course and return it to the start without penalty.

The runs will be laser-timed for accuracy. For more information on the laser-timing rig, take a look here.

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.
  • 5 points will be awarded for each run where the robot does not touch the sides of the course.
  • The robot with the fastest single run will be awarded 10 additional points.


  • Each touch of the walls incurs a 10 second penalty up to a maximum of 30 seconds. Robots scraping along the wall(s) will be penalised to the maximum of 30 seconds.
  • 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 60 seconds.

17 thoughts on “Straight-line speed test

  1. Hey there, the description says that the walls are set 522mm apart but the image shows 61cm between the walls. What is the reason for the difference? Is one the outer measurement and the other the inner measurement? Thanks.

    1. Hi Wes. Yes, the narrower of the measurements (522mm) is to the inner wall. Then it is 610mm between the outer limits of the walls. You should be able to determine the wall thickness, for instance, based on (610-522)/2. Hope that clears it up 🙂

  2. Are there any restrictions on using something like a flywheel and getting it spinning before the actual run begins? Or does the robot need to be in absolute state of rest before “Start”? Thanks.

  3. We are interested in the colours of the track, will it be black and red and how many sections will there be? Also will there be high contrast of colours at the end eg. Will the end section of the track be black and outside of the track the crash barrier white?

    1. Hi Tom,
      We haven’t decided fully yet, but it’ll be something along the lines of what you suggested. Sorry we can’t be any more specific at the moment.

  4. Hi,

    We were hoping to use a camera to do the guiding on this; would the rules allow us to use a bright LED as a target for the robot to aim for? (Positioned just beyond the end of the track)
    If not, what will the end of the run look like?


  5. would feelers be allowed to touch the sides if they were only thin bits of wire connected to a switch / pot?
    thanks in advance

    1. Hi Tom. We’ve discussed this at length. Unfortunately, that would have to incur a penalty as a wall touch for each touch up to a max of 3 touches, 10 seconds each. We’d rather not change the rules at this late stage. We appreciate this is a bit of a pain. 🙁

  6. Can a start / stop button on a controller count as SSH connecting to your robot and just running a script?

    1. Yes, that’s fine. Basically, anything you do before crossing the start line is fine – we just want to stop people actually driving it down the course by R/C.

  7. I can’t remember from last year, sorry, does the bot start inside the track or off the end? I’m getting some odd results and false starts if my bot is *not* surrounded by walls atm! (Fairly certain this is just a sensor issue & I’ll hopefully be able to sort before Sunday)



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