Slightly Deranged Golf

Sony's walking robot, Qrio plays golf in 2004
Photo by Junko Kimura/Getty Images

Time limit

5 minutes

Control method


Aim of the challenge

Robots will navigate a course, of unknown design, attempting to get a (real) golf ball into a hole. They will make two runs of the course.

Robots are permitted to push or hit the ball, but not to pick it up. The ball should remain in contact with the ground at all times unless a ‘chip shot’ is being attempted.

There will be a number of hazards on the course which must be avoided for a ‘clean’ round. Robots may not enter hazards to recover the ball. If the ball enters the hazard, it will be retrieved by the challenge judge, placed on a recovery spot and play will continue from that point.

“Out of Bounds” (i.e. outside of the course) will be treated as a hazard and the ball replaced to the nearest recovery spot.

Ranking and points

Robots will be timed on their runs and allocated rankings based on the total times, with the penalties below taken into account.

Points will be awarded to the top finishers 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:

  • 10 points will be awarded for getting the ball into the ‘cup’.
  • 5 bonus points will be awarded for the avoidance of all hazards.
  • 5 bonus points will be awarded for any ’round of golf’ completed in under 30 seconds.


  • A 20-second penalty will be added to the run time for each hazard encountered by the ball.
  • The robot itself is allowed to (accidentally) enter hazard areas without penalty.
  • A penalty of 150 seconds will be used instead of the run time should the robot fail to get the ball into the hole.

17 thoughts on “Slightly Deranged Golf

  1. Is the robot expected to strike the ball from the tee and any subsequent locations to get it into the hole (like golf)? Or, can the robot collect the ball from the tee, negotiate the course and drop it into the hole?
    Will you be able to tell us how far it will be from the tee to the hole? Will there be hazards that only the ball can go through and the robot needs to go around? – I’m thinking crazy golf windmills etc here!

    1. Hi Andy. I’ve cleaned up and expanded the rules a bit. In terms of golf windmills, we haven’t decided yet 🙂

  2. Could ones robot have a sort of U shaped contraption at the front that just holds the ball (almost like a caster wheel) and then rolls it to the hole?

    1. As long as the ball is not _lifted_, anything goes. A u-shaped contraption that holds the ball like a castor will be fine, as long as it doesn’t accidentally lift it as it moves. 🙂

        1. Not as such, apart from the kudos you’ll get from other makers, which is worth the weight in gold alone 🙂

      1. Drew and I was under the impression that we had to strike the ball see the picture at the top not push it round the circuit .

  3. As this is a golf challenge and we all know how much “real” golfers like a selection of clubs and the world of crazy golf sees players allowed a broad selection of specialist balls to handle different courses. The rules state the ball is fixed as a real golf ball. Will the robot be allowed to “change clubs” so to speak mid course?

    1. The short answer is: yes, that’s fine. Long answer: We don’t think you’ll need to and it will cost you time to change clubs as the clock won’t be stopped.

  4. Probably a dumb Q – but I’ll ask anyway. 😉 In the original version of this event the hole was more of a goal. From the description above, is the whole course basically raised and this time it’s a ‘real’ hole in the floor?



    1. It’ll be either slightly raised so that there’s a ‘hole’ that the ball drops into or a hole cut into whatever surface we’ve got so that the ball kinda rolls in and just sits there. 🙂

  5. Does the maximum dimensions of the robot, include additional attachments required for a specific challenge? e.g. if we build a robot with an attachment/gripper for the golf challenge that is only used for that challenge, do we include the gripper in the maximum robot dimensions?

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