Indoor Challenge Rules

PARTS Indoor Challenge


DRAFT Rules v0.3, 4/28/2010

Purpose – The PIC consists of indoor autonomous navigation events that give robots an excuse for their humans to stay inside where it is comfy, warm, and DRY.  The 4 events are staged in increasing order of difficulty.  All events are friendly to newbots but challenging even to sentients.  The format will generally be low-key and flexible, adjusting for number of entries and whatever else is significant on the day of “competition.”  The PIC shall be easy to plan and execute, so the club will hold several per year.

Challenge Event #1 – Out and Back

Drive from the origin to a point at least 30 feet away and back to the origin and stop. Distance is then measured from the stopping place to the origin.  Shortest distance wins. Robots that turn around prematurely, without crossing the 30 ft mark before returning to the origin, will be penalized by the distance it did not travel. For example, turning around and coming back 9′ early (21′ out) should have a penalty of 18′ since that is how much round-trip distance was skipped.

Challenge Event #2 – Out and Back With Obstacles

Identical to event #1 but this time there are obstacles in the way. Obstacles will be at least 1′ tall and at least 6″ in diameter, and will be IR opaque.

Challenge Event #3 – Square

Drive from the origin around a square (typically 10 to 20 feet on each side) clockwise or counter-clockwise as instructed by the judge, and stop at the origin.  Distance is then measured from the stopping place to the origin.  Shortest distance wins.

It is legal to cut the corners, pivot 90 degrees, execute a 3-pt turn or whatever it takes to transition from one leg to the next.   Robots that miss a corner (turn too soon) will be penalized by the distance of its closest approach(es) to the missed corner(s). In other words, it is better to go out further and around each corner than to fall short of each one.

It is likely that there will be people on the course and they may constitute unplanned obstacles.  Normally this should be taken in stride but in a severe case, the judges may allow a re-run or make a distance adjustment, at their discretion.

Challenge Event #4 – Dog-Leg or Horseshoe with Obstacles

This event challenges the robot to travel several hundred feet in an office building setting toward an unseen finish point around at least one 90 degree corner, from one hall to another.  There is a time limit of 10 minutes and the course will be laid out such that the expected path around all the obstacles will be 200 feet (TBD), so a robot averaging 1.5 feet per second along a reasonably smart path will have plenty of time.  Robots can travel at whatever speed they prefer of course, as long as they are safe.

Scoring is based on distance from the finish point when the robot stops or at the time limit, whichever is earlier.

The course is defined by the start and finish points, which will be made available a few minutes before the start of the event.  An offical PSU building map with marked start and stop locations will serve as a reference; however distance & bearing will be provided as well.

It is likely that there will be people on the course and they may constitute unplanned obstacles.  Normally this should be taken in stride but in a severe case, the judges may allow a re-run or make a distance adjustment, at their discretion.

Robots must halt at the time limit, either automatically or be halted by their operators.

Robots are expected to be fully autonomous.   There are no limits on instrumentation, size, weight or mode of power other than the safe/sane rule.  Note that remote computers are allowed, although not likely practical due to distances and obstacles.  Flying and swimming are not allowed.

Venue – The venue for a PIC event is the Portland State University 4th Avenue Engineering Building (SW 4th Ave & College St.), first floor, in the hallway outside of room 103, our regular meeting room.  Hopefully, several PIC’s will be held each year.

Safety – Robots must be fundamentally safe and sane.  The head judge has the right to scratch at any time before or during the event any robot deemed risky, unsafe or hazardous.  Robots may have a system that allows the operator and/or judge to halt, disable or change the course of the robot if it is about to get in trouble, but this is not currently required.

Autonomy – All robots must be autonomous while on the course.

Attempts – There is only one attempt or trial allowed per event, with the rare exception noted for events #3 and #4.

Scoring and Awards – Scoring will be determined for each event and overall by robot.  Awards will not likely be $1 million checks, but you can always dream.  At a minimum, scores and rankings will be posted on the club website.  Great achievements will be duely noted in monthly meetings and great achievers will receive public adulation (but will also be required to pontificate at monthly meetings and publish in scholarly journals).  Honorary Certificates of Artificial Achievement will be liberally bestowed on robots that make the effort to show up.

The robot’s score for each event is simply the distance from the robot’s stopping place times the fractional bonus if applicable.  The overall score is simply the sum of points for all events.  For the purpose of overall score, a robot will receive points for each event not entered equal to the worst score by any robot for that event.

Abuse – No robots will be tortured, humiliated, insulted or stigmatized in the PIC.  They will be followed, closely watched and applauded however.

Liability – Each contestant is fully responsible for any damage to person or property caused directly or indirectly by his or her robot.  The Portland Area Robotics Society, the event organizers, judges and other entrants are not responsible for damage caused by any competing robots.

Whining – Robots are permitted to whine and complain, since after all, they are doing the work.  People are not.  Please keep the event fun and light-hearted for all, including the organizers and humans.

Judges – One or more judges will officiate the contest. Their prime responsibilities will be to determine that a robot has successfully completed the requirements of a specific challenge, to provide measurements of the robot’s stopping position for scoring, and to close their ears to whining.  The decisions of the judges are final.


Pete Skeggs 3/29/2010, based on PARTS Outdoor Challenge Rules by Robert F. Scheer 5/20/2008

Modified 3/29/2010 based on feedback from Jeff S.

Modified again 4/28/2010 based on more feedback from Paul B. and Jeff S. Changes are in bold italic.