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Rules outdoor delivery challenge

The fourth year of this autonomous outdoor robot contest will be held in park Lužánky, Brno. Besides the new location the novelty is simultaneous start of all robots from unknown positions. More space will be also dedicated to „free style” category. From previous years remains obstacle avoidance, payload delivery and the possibility of robot cooperation. Each team can again deploy up to 3 machines.

Contest history

The first year of the contest was organized in 2006, in occasion of celebration of 5th year of website Besides the effort to fill a gap in autonomous outdoor robot contest area, the goal was to unite robotics community, share know-how and also succeed on international level. Finally we wanted to have some potentially practical outcome. So far the unified theme of all years is robot's ability to autonomously navigate in outdoor environments and move payload from a place to another place.
First three years of the contest were held in cooperation with Planetárium Praha in Prague, park Stromovka. Since this year we would like to „tour” also the contest itself so the location was moved for year 2009 to city Brno.
The rules for each year slightly change and the contest is more and more challenging every year. On the other hand you can find information about existing solutions on the website so novices do not have to start from scratch.
The robots have to be fully autonomous, which means that after task entry they have to decide by themselves. Since the first year the basic requirement is to navigate on paved roads in the park without leaving them — similar to cars not leaving the streets. In the second year possibility of robot cooperation was introduced. Last year obstacles were added and robots had to successfully deal with them.

Similar contests

There are other contests of autonomous outdoor robots in the world. The first to mention is American Grand Challenge/Urban Challenge, where robots (typical autonomous cars) had to autonomously overcome non-trivial distances. In the last year contest they should also recognize signposts, navigate in city-like environment and respond to other robots.
Since 2005, Pennsylvania State University organizes Mini Grand Challenge. Mid-size robots, similar to Robotour, have to autonomously navigate in Abington park and avoid obstacles. The track is marked by traffic cones blocking other roads on junctions. Also a set of GPS waypoints is available. The contest is still active and you can even download some source code for the software framework.
There is also one contest held in Europe: Field Robotic Event. In contrast to other contests here the organizers just let the playground grow . The task is to navigate in a field plant with corn. In 2009 the contest will be held in Holland (6.-8. July 2009, Wageningen University and Research centre).

Motivation for year 2009

This year contest should be the next step towards smarter and more autonomous robots. Motto of this year is emphasis on fully autonomous robots and the ability to deal with obstacles. In comparison to previous years robot's will not know exactly their start position. Also the interaction with operator will be reduced to round-track entry and starting robot. Similar to previous years more robust machines able to carry payload are preferred as well as robot's cooperation in motion in convoy.


Task The task of the robots is to travel through the given circular route of the park (paved) passage ways. The route will be at most 1 km long and the time limit is 30 minutes. Robots must be fully autonomous, not leave the road, and correctly pick direction at intersections based on instructions given on start. The start position will be for each robot also finish position (note, that this position will be for each robot different, see below).
Route The route will be selected from the footpaths of park Lužánky in Brno as a sequence of connected segments. Each segment is assigned an unique letter and the route will be defined by its code (for example see code ABCORSTUO for year 2006, and code AEDCHIJLW for year 2007 contest in park Stromovka).
Robots Each team can deploy at most three robots designated HEAD, BODY and TAIL. The robots may not touch while en route and the distance HEAD-BODY and BODY-TAIL may not exceed 2m. All robots must be equipped with a PAUSE button that can temporarily suspend their movement. This button will be used to start the robot and to stop it when it leaves the road. Button has to be easily accessible, red and must be fixed par of the robot (Big Red Switch).
Leaving the road The robots are expected to stay “on the road” which means to stay on the paved passage ways. If any robot from the group leaves the road, the trial ends for this robot and all robots behind it. The team has to take care of their robots and remove them immediately.
Obstacles There could be obstacles on the road. Besides natural obstacles like benches there could be also artificial obstacles. A typical (artificial) obstacle is for example a figurant or a banana paper box. Robots may not touch an obstacle. The robotic convoy may stop in front of the obstacle and visually or acoustically give notice, that the obstacle was detected but no avoidance is planned. The obstacle (artificial) will be removed and robots may continue. Note, that robot has to detect, that obstacle is no longer present.
Beacon There will be __one__ dedicated area, where team can place its own beacon. This area will be shared by all teams. Each team has to announce during homologation process what frequencies are used (transmission will be allowed only on officially permitted radio bands). Organizers will not solve potential problems with interferences. They will only publish list of teams and their frequencies.
Score The team whose robots manage best to proceed along the route wins. The route will be divided into fragments 20m to 40m long. Each intersection is designated to be a fragment of its own including approx. 5m before and 5m after the intersection. The segments in between the intersections will be evenly split. For a completion of a fragment team gets one point (“point for the road”). If the team carries any payload it is awarded one point for each payload transported (“point for the payload”). Each robot can carry only one “payload”. If a robot leaves the road or touches an obstacle the trial ends for this robot and all robots behind it.
Homologation A team can participate in the contest if it is able to score at least one point. Necessary condition is the ability to travel one fragment without collision with an obstacle. The team must show that it is easy to manipulate with the robot — two people must be able to carry it several tens of meters. Usage of liquids, corrosive, pyrotechnic material and live beings is strictly prohibited. Every robot has to be accompanied by a team member, older 18 years, who is fully responsible for the robot behavior.
Technical documentation Every team has to provide basic technical documentation about their robot (for presentations, general public and journalists). Three winning teams will be asked for more detail description for website presentation and easier entry of novices in next year.
Organization The contest will consist of 4 trials for each team. The route will be different for every trail. The selected round code will be announced to all teams 10 minutes before the start. The starting position on the round will be random for every trial. All robots will start at the same time. In the cases where faster robot catch up previous one won't be explicitly solved (PAUSE button will not be used). Faster robot can handle slower robot as an obstacle, i.e. avoid it or wait until „obstacle” disappears. The speed of the robots is not important (actually it is limited to 2.5m/s). All points gained during all trials will be summed together. If a robot does not move for 60s or more it is stopped and its current trial ends. The time limit for a single trial is 30 minutes.
Free style After completion of the basic contest, there will be extra category „free style”. You have to register if you want to present your robot, but it is not necessary to participate in the basic contest. Here can robot demonstrate its original capabilities. It could be ability to dock, dance, automatic loading and unloading… there will not be other than safety restrictions. Evaluation of this exhibition will be independent on the main contest.

Basic differences between last and this year contests

  • Exact position of start will not be available for the robots and operator must not give it to robot. Only the round code will be entered. In case of problems robot will be started by jury.
  • All robots will start at the same time.
  • ERROR button is no longer permitted. Nobody will touch the robots during contest anymore! PAUSE button can be used only by jury in some dangerous cases. If anybody from the team stops the robot, it means termination of the trial.
  • No wireless STOP buttons are allowed - they confuse general public that robots are RC controlled.
  • No extra points for obstacle avoidance.
  • Robot has to recognize when obstacle was removed (there is no contact allowed not even using PAUSE button).
  • There is no restriction of obstacles size. There could be even cases, when the whole path is blocked and it is impossible to avoid it. In this case robot has to stop. After visual/acoustical signal obstacle will be removed.
  • Number of trials was reduced from 5 to 4.
  • Team can have a beacon (for example for DGPS corrections) on one place defined by organizers.
  • There is a chance that robot's will carry „system for on-line vehicle tracking” (in this case robots tracking).

Where and when?

For the general public the contest will be held on Saturday September 26th in Brno, 10-17h in park Lužánky. In the case of very bad weather the contest can be postponed to Sunday.
For the teams this will be three-day-event: there will be homologations on Friday, contest on Saturday and a small workshop on Sunday (theme “what is actually hidden in your unique machines”).


If you would like to participate in the contest, please let us know using contact form. The final dead-line for registration is 31st of July 2009.
If you would like to support this contest or you have something interesting to offer, let us know.