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Pi Wars 2024 – General Rules

Please read these rules thoroughly – some are for safety reasons, but mostly they exist to ensure that everyone is treated equally and fairly.

Please note the additional height restriction for robots that has been added under “Size”.

Please also note the recently-introduced rule expansion to allow any board with Raspberry Pi silicon to be used as the central driver for your robot.

Team Rules

  1. Each team must build and code a single robot that handles all of the challenges.
  2. This single robot may have attachments, and parts can be exchanged, but must remain fundamentally the ‘same’ robot.
  3. Teams will be asked at the time of application into which category they should be entered. The categories are as follows:
    1. Young Teams – Novices.
    2. Young Teams – Experienced.
    3. Beginner teams.
    4. Intermediate teams.
    5. Advanced/Professional teams.
  4. The final decision on categorisation rests with Pi Wars in consultation with the robot team.
  5. Robots will compete and be ranked against other robots in the same category.
  6. All teams must be able to send at least one participant to the physical event in Cambridge.
  7. There is no maximum size of team, however we have found that teams of more than 10 members can be difficult to co-ordinate. We will confirm how many people are in your team later when final preparations for the event are in progress. This will help us to assign you an on-site workroom suitable for the size of your team.
  8. All robots must remain powered down or ‘on blocks’ in the workrooms. This is to ensure that any remote control conflicts or remote control/autonomous mistakes do not result in your robot zooming off the table and being damaged!


  1. Any team with members under 18 years of age must have a responsible adult (18 years or older) who is willing to be copied into communications and have overall responsibility for the team. However, that person does not have to play an active role in the team.
  2. Any competitor under 18 years of age must be accompanied by a responsible adult to the event. We are very strict about this!

Smoke! Flames!

  1. Regardless of the theme for the current competition, the robot must not intentionally emit smoke or flames. This will set the fire/smoke alarms off and be generally alarming and embarrassing. Remember Rule Zero: “Do not be on fire!”
  2. No soldering is permitted within the building. However, if you wish to bring a battery-powered soldering iron with you and solder outside, this is acceptable, as long as no smoke enters the building. (There are smoke detectors in the building).

Robot Rules

Raspberry Pi at the Core

  1. You are permitted to enter one, single robot to the competition. You are not permitted to “swap out” the entire robot at any time, although you are permitted to exchange parts of your robot to compete in different challenges, such as motors and wheels, for example.
  2. A board containing Raspberry Pi silicon must be in overall/central control of your robot as the primary/core processor. These include:
    1. Official models of the Raspberry Pi single board computer such as the original Raspberry Pi and Pi 2, 3, 4, 5, Zero/Zero W/Zero 2 W or any of the Compute Modules. Any new official Raspberry Pi board released during the run-up to the competition is also permitted.
    2. The Raspberry Pi Pico family of microcontrollers.
    3. Any other board containing the RP2040 chip (or any other silicon released by Raspberry Pi). This includes custom PCBs containing a “bare” Raspberry Pi chip. (This changed 14th December 2023).
  3. You may use multiple Raspberry Pi-powered boards on your robot to perform control and computation.
  4. Other boards, such as Arduinos, micro:bits or other microcontrollers may be used on the robot but the Raspberry Pi-powered board must be in overall control.
  5. Non-official RP2040-derived boards may be used but only as part of any supporting hardware. These can be user-created designs or purchased boards. However, these additional boards must be under the control of the core official Raspberry Pi hardware listed above at all times. (Rule to allow any RP2040-powered board was introduced 14th December 2023).
  6. Additional pieces of equipment e.g. a games controller, a laptop, mobile phone or tablet may be used to control the robot, but must not be physically attached when competing on the courses.


  1. All robots must be powered by batteries and must operate without being tethered to a static mains electricity power source.
  2. Mains power may be used for recharging battery packs.
  3. If LiPo batteries are used, any charging must be done inside a fire-proof bag or box, available from many places that stock the batteries, such as HobbyKing. This is to ensure that no charging incidents occur. Any charging of LiPo batteries must be supervised – no charging should be left unattended at any time.

Robot Types

  1. No airborne robots are permitted, e.g. drones.
  2. Walking and self-balancing robots are permitted.
  3. Hovercraft-style robots are allowed provided that any fans are enclosed safely.


  1. The main chassis (including wheels and any protrusions that form part of the main robot) of competing robots must fit within a 225mm x 300mm x 370mm footprint, as pictured in the purple area in the diagram above:
    • The maximum width must be no more than 225mm.
    • The maximum length must be no more than 300mm.
    • The maximum height must be no more than 370mm.
  2. Attachments may be added to the robot for specific challenges. Any attachment can add additional length of 100mm and height of 80mm (as in the green area in the diagram above) such that, when the attachment is at rest:
    • The maximum width must be no more than 225mm (i.e. no additional width).
    • The maximum length must be no more than 400mm.
    • The maximum height must be no more than 450mm.
  3. An attachment may be animated in some way such that it extends beyond the boundaries above into the “extension area”. However, the attachment must stay within a box 325mm wide by 500mm length (this is shown as the pink area above).
  4. When adding attachments, the basic chassis, Raspberry Pi and controller arrangement must remain the same.
  5. The maximum weight allowed for the robot is 5kg. This is to ensure that our courses survive the weekend and we don’t have any… crushing problems! 🙂


  1. There will be a number of different challenges into which you may enter your robot, the results of which will contribute to an overall score.
  2. There may be some physical requirements for specific challenges – please consult the individual challenge pages for more information.
  3. Points structures will be published by the Pi Wars organisers to ensure that teams are aware of how many points each challenge is potentially worth.
  4. None of the challenges are mandatory but no points can be earned from challenges not entered.