8 months ago

Raptor self-driving robots at Formula Pi 2018

The new Formula Pi 2018 Summer 2018 series is open for entries, and sees a new robot class – the much faster “Raptor”.

The latest season of Formula Pi has come to a glorious – if slightly chaotic – end, with team lambda.p.racing the clear winner.

For those that haven’t seen a live-streamed Formula Pi race, it’s an autonomous racing challenge where entrants submit code to run on standardised MonsterBorg robots.

As Formula Pi race director Timothy Freeburn explains, this means competitors “do not require a large budget or their own robot to compete, with the cost of entry being just over $50 (£37).” Formula Pi even provides basic example code to get you started – see formulapi.com.

Formula Pi: Autonomous Racing

This season of Formula Pi saw some big changes. “We added challenge races,” says Timothy, “where two competitors raced head-to-head whilst having to avoid stationary robots on the track.”

While these “had a mixed reception,” Timothy adds that “the intention was to make sure competitors thought about adding avoidance code to their entry.”

This seemed to pay off, as the final race – which you can see at magpi.cc/cwmmPt – featured a huge crash. Timothy tells us “lambda.p had a bespoke avoidance algorithm which worked quite well… there was probably a small amount of luck involved as well.”

Formula Pi Raptor

The new Raptor Class robot. You can paint your Raptor’s shell, as well as write its controlling code

Formula Pi 2018 and Raptor robots

Registration for the Summer 2018 series is already open, and there’s a new category of robot for experienced Formula Pi racers. The new Raptor class is by invitation only “for the moment,” Timothy reveals, because Raptors are “much faster than the MonsterBorgs and have a Pozyx localised GPS, inertial measurement unit (IMU), and a wheel speed encoder on board.”

The current MonsterBorg category will continue as a parallel formula; entry is open until 31 May and you can sign up here.

If you like the sound of Formula Pi and want to give it more support, there is an opening for a major sponsor. Head over to Formula Pi for more details.