Pi Wars 3.0

Here’s a guest post from our old friends Mike Horne and Tim Richardson. Come and join the fun at the next Pi Wars!

Pi Wars is a challenge-based robotics competition in which every robot must be controlled by a Raspberry Pi. It’s great fun, and it will all be kicking off once again on 1st-2nd April 2017. For the first time, we are extending the event to run over two days, as we have been overwhelmed with interested applicants.

2015obstacle

Another victim succumbs to the obstacle course and its turntable of doom

We have always tried to encourage young robot builders to get involved in CamJam and in Pi Wars. Previously we have held Pi Wars in September and December, but this did not allow school teams enough time to build, program, test, and otherwise prepare their robot around their schoolwork. We therefore decided to move the event date to later in the academic year: we think April is late enough for schools to have run enough robot club sessions, but early enough not to clash with exams.

People of all ages take part. Here's Amy, aided by Heffalump and friends, showing Eben her robot.

People of all ages take part. Here’s Amy, aided by Heffalump and friends, showing Eben her robot.

This time around, we have a celebrity judge: Dr Lucy Rogers from the BBC’s Robot Wars will be putting your robots through their paces.

lucyrogers

Dr Lucy Rogers in conversation with an old friend

In previous years, we have categorised robots by cost (in 2014) and size (in 2015). This time, we are going to group teams into the following categories:

  • Schools and other clubs

  • Families and groups of friends

  • Amateur/beginner/intermediate hobbyists(s)

  • Professional or expert hobbyist(s)

This means that robot teams will be competing against their peers, rather than against those with different skill levels – so, it will be, for instance, school vs school and family vs family (in a non-Mafia kind of way).

This is the kind of thing you see at Pi Wars: Liz commandeers a gigantic Big Trak.

This is the kind of thing you see at Pi Wars: your friendly Director of Communications commandeers a gigantic Big Trak.

This year’s list of challenges is available on the Pi Wars website. As well as winning points for their performance in a range of challenges, this year’s robots are also being given points for artistic and technical merit. There’s even a prize for the funniest robot (the competition does start on April Fool’s Day, after all!) and a pre-event blogging competition which encourages teams write about themselves, and their journey from a collection of parts to a working robot.

We’ve come up with a list of general rules and also rules for each challenge. Perhaps the most important one this year is a requirement that your robot must be sub-A4 in size. This still leaves quite a lot of room for flexibility in design, whilst at the same time levelling the playing field. It also means that those teams who are using kits are in with a better chance of competing against those who make their robot from scratch.

Entry into Pi Wars is on an application basis, rather than first-come, first served. With the number of teams we’re expecting to apply, the quality of your application is important. You can read more about the application and selection process here.

To apply to enter the competition, please fill in the application form. Feel free to take as much time over your application, and provide as much information as possible.

If you’re interested in robotics and technology, but you don’t want to build your own robot this time, you are still very welcome to come and watch the competition. Spectator tickets will go on sale later in the year. We only charge for adults, so it’s great for those on limited incomes. Join our mailing list to be notified when tickets are available, or keep an eye on piwars.org.

The game is afoot! Competitors at Pi Wars 2015

The game is afoot! Competitors at Pi Wars 2015

If you’re an altruistic type, you may be wondering if there’s some way you can help with Pi Wars. As with all big events, we need a team of volunteers to make the day go smoothly. Rather than having just a few marshals who spend the entire day helping, we aim to have as many people as possible so that everyone can spend most of the day watching the robots take on the challenges. Depending on the number of people who volunteer, helpers spend approximately two hours doing marshalling activities. Judges generally spend slightly more time judging, but we aim to give everyone a chance to experience the event as a spectator as well as helping us out! If you’d like to help out, please do contact us. We’ll be delighted to hear from you! We are also very happy to hear from potential sponsors: you can check out our website for more information on sponsorship, and on what we can offer in return.

To whet your appetite for the upcoming competition, or if you have never been to Pi Wars and want to know what it’s like on the day, we’d like to leave you with Matt Manning’s video of last year’s event…

Pi Wars 2015

Uploaded by RaspberryPiIVBeginners on 2015-12-05.

…and Spencer Organ’s video of the 2014 wars:

Pi Wars December 2014

What can you do with a Raspberry Pi? Build robots! Check out this video of Pi Wars held on Saturday 6th December 2014.

Tickets will be available for observers as well as competitors; it promises to be another great weekend. We’re looking forward to seeing you there!