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The Canyons of Mars

The design of the Canyons of Mars maze course with alien positions for tracking. The numbers do not represent the zones mentioned below – they are just for construction purposes.

Aim of the Challenge

  • To drive the course as quickly as possible three times.

Control Method

  • Autonomous

Time Limit

  • 7 minutes


  • The course will require you to autonomously navigate a simple maze. The maze design can be seen above.
  • The total size of the course is 3.4m by 1.83m.
  • The walls will be 20cm high and painted red.
  • At certain points, green alien targets will be placed on the walls. You can use these, for example with a camera, to find your way round the maze. You do not need to touch them with your robot.
  • The distance between walls is just under 600mm at the start and the minimum distance between walls at the turns is approximately 550mm.
  • The floor will be painted grey and will be as flat as we can make it.
  • The course design is as pictured at the top of this page.
  • It is permissible to touch the walls in this challenge without penalty.

Ranking and Points

  • Competitors will be ranked according to the single shortest time taken to drive the course across the three attempts.  The robot with the shortest time will take first place. Robots that do not complete a run will not be ranked but will be entitled to additional points as detailed below.
  • 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

  • 50 additional points for each completed run.
  • 20 additional points for each run completed without touching the walls.
  • 15 points for each of the 7 zones entered. These zones correspond to areas covering each turn and will be marked out on the course walls for reference.


  • 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.


  • Use of ultrasonic distance sensors and time-of-flight sensors will enable you to detect the walls.
  • Use of a camera will enable you to spot the targets.

Ask Questions and Discuss

You can discuss this challenge and ask questions on the discussion forum or via Discord chat.