SR2024 Kickstart Out Of This World

Student Robotics 2024 was Kickstarted on Saturday 21st October on our livestream. 30 teams from around the UK and Europe joined us as we introduced competitors to the competition, our Kits, and this year’s game! Teams will have six months to build, program, and test a fully autonomous robot, learning invaluable technical and soft skills along the way.

This year’s game, Final Frontier, plunges teams into an interstellar battle for dominance among four formidable civilizations, all vying for control of the cosmos. Teams must retrieve asteroids scattered throughout the asteroid field and transport them back to their home planet or, even better, their intergalactic spaceship currently under construction. However, the stakes are high, as within the confines of the asteroid belt lies The Egg, a cosmic time bomb that, if disturbed, could spell chaos. Teams must strategise, navigate the treacherous field, and decide whether to safeguard their own civilization or sabotage their rivals. With asteroids worth points, spaceships to manage, and The Egg lurking, the universe has never been this competitive. May the most ingenious civilization prevail in this high-stakes cosmic showdown! For complete details, including prizes up for grabs this year, you can consult our rulebook.

Over the next six months our teams will work to discover the best approach to designing and building their robots. With few constraints and help on hand, teams are free to tackle the problem at hand in any number of ways. Throughout the year teams will learn a wide variety of different technical skills, from programming for real world interactions, to building the hardware that makes up their robot. Competitors also gain invaluable practical experience working as part of a team, managing a real world engineering project, and producing their robot to a strict deadline.

Following on from last year’s success, we’re continuing to offer teams a set of Challenges to be completed throughout the competition year. These encourage teams to start work on their robots early and cover movement, mechanics, and vision. They may be approached in any order, and completing challenges before certain deadlines will earn the teams bonus league points. Full details are available in the rulebook and the deadlines are on our events page.

This year’s teams have already begun strategising their approaches, and we can’t wait to see their progress over the year!

If you weren’t able to attend Kickstart this year, or would like a recap, you can:

  • watch our livestream where we explain the game and how this year’s competition will work.
  • download the presentation in which we explain this year’s game and how the competition is running this year.
  • download the microgames which are small activities designed to let you become familiar with the kit.
  • If you’re a competitor, be sure to check out our Kickstarted, now what? guide for some next steps.
  • If you’re a team supervisor, be sure to check out our guide on running a team for suggestions on how best to support your team.

Robots 101 - The Code

Welcome to another blog post in our 101 series! Today, we’re going to delve into the brains of your robot - its code.

Teamwork Makes The Code Work

First and foremost, your robot’s code should never be a one-person show. Make sure more than one person has access to the codebase and understands it. This is crucial for two reasons: First, if the primary coder is unavailable for any reason, others can step in and keep things moving. Second, multiple perspectives can identify potential issues and generate creative solutions that a single mind might overlook. Think of it as having a built-in code review process!

The Pulse of Your Robot - The Control Loop

Your robot interacts with the environment in a continuous cycle of sensing and acting. It’s essential to have a solid control loop in your code where your robot senses its environment and then decides what to do next based on that information. This loop should be at the core of your robot’s operation, allowing it to adapt and react to its surroundings.

Backup Your Code: The Magic of Version Control Systems

Mistakes and accidents happen, files get lost, and computers crash. To protect your work from these unpredictable events, ensure you regularly back up your code. Better yet, use a Version Control System (VCS) like Git with GitHub. A VCS not only provides a backup of your code but also tracks changes, making it easy to identify when and where things might have gone wrong or right!

The Six T’s: Test, Test, Test, Test, Test, Test!

If there’s one golden rule in the world of coding, it’s this: test your code. Then, test it again, and keep testing! You can utilise our web interface to help you quickly iterate on your robot, by live streaming the logs and viewing the last captured image. You can also use the web interface to stop and restart the execution of your code. The more robust your testing, the more reliable your robot will be when it counts!

The Benefits of Friendly Competition

If you have a large enough team, consider developing competing implementations of certain features or systems. This can be an effective way to explore different solutions and spark innovation. You can then choose the best elements from each, or select the most efficient solution overall.

Embrace Imperfections: Sensor Noise

It’s crucial to remember that real-world data is often noisy and imperfect. Your sensors may pick up interference, or there could be slight variations in readings. Your code should be robust enough to handle this noise and still make effective decisions. Techniques such as sensor fusion or filtering (like taking an average of multiple readings) can be highly beneficial here.

The Power of Documentation

Our Docs are a goldmine of knowledge and should be your first port of call whenever you’re unsure about something. Much like a good textbook or reference guide, our Docs are designed to support you in understanding your robot better. From getting started with your robot kit, to understanding the APIs, to troubleshooting common issues; the Docs cover a broad spectrum of topics you may encounter.

Coding your robot can be a challenging yet rewarding experience. It’s where the magic happens, where the inert pieces of metal, wood, and circuitry come to life and engage with the world. We hope these tips and strategies will help you avoid common pitfalls and pave the way for your success in the Student Robotics competition. Remember, every stumble is an opportunity to learn and improve. Keep coding, keep testing, and most importantly, have fun!

Registration opens for Student Robotics 2024

All the teams from SR2023
All the teams from SR2023

We’re excited to announce that registration for the 2024 season of Student Robotics is now open!

Based in the UK, Student Robotics challenges teams of 16 to 19 year-olds to design, build and program fully autonomous robots to compete in our annual competition. Teams will have just six months to engineer their creations. As well as supplying teams with a kit, which they can use as a framework for their robot, we mentor the teams over this period. Thanks to the generosity of our sponsors, we provide all of this to our teams at no cost.

The competition cycle will start with a live streamed Kickstart event on our YouTube Channel. During the event the game and the structure of the competition will be announced and kits handed out to teams.

The competition year will culminate in an in-person competition over two days in around Easter 2024, which will see the robots compete through a league stage and a seeded knockout. As usual the prizes will recognise not only the teams which come top in the knockouts, but also those who excel in other ways.

Details of the game and prizes will be revealed at Kickstart. Details of the Kickstart and competition events will be published when they are available. We expect to confirm places towards the end of September.

If you would like a chance to compete in Student Robotics 2024, please fill in the entry form with the required information. Places are limited, so sign up soon to avoid disappointment.

We look forward to seeing your teams!