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!

Haberdashers' School wins Student Robotics Competition 2023!

All the teams from SR2023
All the teams from SR2023

That’s a wrap on Student Robotics 2023! Haberdashers’ School came 1st amongst all of our competitors, after coming up against Abingdon School, Gymnasium Markt Indersdorf, and Harris Westminster Sixth Form in the finals. Our teams worked incredibly hard on their robots this year, and it showed in their performance in each round.

The game: Greed

The 'Greed' arena
The 'Greed' arena

Greed required our team’s robots to capture tokens from their opponents and place them in their scoring zone. With Bronze, Silver, and Gold tokens, each worth a different number of game points, teams had to think carefully about their optimum strategy.

To help teams locate the tokens there were 2D barcode style markers attached that our computer vision library could detect. However, each of the markers identified themselves as exactly the same, so teams had to use other sensors to detect which type of token is which. Bronze and Silver tokens were the same size but the Silver tokens weighed 300g more, and Gold tokens were larger than both Bronze and Silver. Teams were scored at the end of the match for collecting the most points.

Virtual Competition

The first part of our league this year was a virtual competition, broadcast live from Southampton in March. Across twenty matches, teams competed in a simulated version of the main competition, testing their coding skills against one another. The day was handily won by Haberdashers’ College, coming 1st in all four of their matches.

League Matches

At the in person event, teams participated in a further 70 league matches, showcasing a diverse range of robot designs and strategies. The robots displayed impressive agility, precision, and ingenuity, as they navigated the arena to capture tokens and outmanoeuvre their opponents. Team’s had varying designs from suction systems, lifting mechanisms, and even a flywheel designed to launch tokens.


The knockout rounds saw teams from the league matches pitted against one another in intense, high-stakes battles. With each round, the competition grew fiercer, and the robots were pushed to their limits as they raced to collect tokens and secure their place in the finals.

The Final

Three competitors placing their robots into the arena with a crowd of onlookers watching
Beginning of the SR2023 Final

In the nail-biting final, Haberdashers’ School faced off against Abingdon School, Gymnasium Markt Indersdorf, and Harris Westminster Sixth Form. Harris Westminster Sixth Form managed to successfully grab Haberdashers’ gold token, but were not able to get it solely back to their own scoring zone. Whilst this was happening, Gymnasium Markt Indersdorf tried to grab a gold token with their arms, but missed slightly and instead grabbed the Abingdon School robot, slowly pulling on the robot and some of its wires for the rest of the match! At the same time, the Haberdashers’ robot slowly but steadily collected bronze and silver tokens and deposited them in their zone, before going back and getting more. The teams displayed exceptional skill and teamwork, and after a fierce battle, Haberdashers’ School emerged victorious, claiming the first-place title in Student Robotics 2023.


  • Winner: HAB – Haberdashers’ School
  • 2nd place: ABS – Abingdon School
  • 3rd place: MAI – Gymnasium Markt Indersdorf
  • Committee award: QMC – Queen Mary’s College (award sponsored by University of Southampton ECS)
  • Rookie award: SHB – Sherborne School (award sponsored by ITDev)
  • Robot and team image award: HAB – Haberdashers’ School
  • Online presence award: HAM – Hampton & Lady Eleanor Holles Schools (Instagram, TikTok)
  • Challenges award: QMC – Queen Mary’s College (award sponsored by Adventurous Machines)

After a close match in the final, Haberdashers’ School managed to beat their opponents and win the Student Robotics 2023 competition, closely followed by Abingdon School in second and Gymnasium Markt Indersdorf in third.

The Committee Award is given to the team that displays the most extraordinary ingenuity in the design of their robot. As engineers, we appreciate elegance, simplicity, and robust engineering. This year, the committee award was given to Queen Mary’s College for their consistent excellence in all their matches. Their robot reliably and repeatedly executed their strategy to great success.

We’re always delighted to welcome new teams to Student Robotics and understand how big a challenge it can be without prior experience. To recognise this additional challenge, we award the Rookie Award to the highest placed newcomer in the league, celebrating their incredible achievement. This year’s recipient was Sherborne School with their robot which drove over the tokens enclosing them within the robot before returning to their scoring zone.

           competitors from Haberdashers' School standing with their robot
Team Haberdashers' School with their “Knight Bus” theme

We award the Robot and Team Image Award to the team that presents themselves in the most outstanding way. This year, our teams rose to the challenge, and we saw some fantastic themes! We loved Gymnasium Markt Indersdorf’s Raspberry Pi theme, but we decided to give the Robot and Team Image award to Haberdashers’ School for their brilliant “Knight Bus” theme. All team members dressed as wizards and their robot sported a number plate and windows with images of the team members looking out.

Through social media, teams can share the problems they’re facing as well as their designs and successes. A few teams stood out to us this year with their regular uploads, but the winner (for the second year in a row!) of the Online Presence Award is Hampton School and Lady Eleanor Holles School for their consistent and high-quality posts.

Check out the rulebook for all the details on the awards we give.

Photos of the event have been added to our Google Photos Album.

Thank You

This year’s competition would not have been possible without all of our amazing sponsors. Their generous support allows us to make Student Robotics free to enter and help us continue in our mission to bring the excitement of engineering and the challenge of coding to young people through robotics.

Our SR2023 Sponsors

We’d also like to thank our volunteers, who make Student Robotics happen every year! Some have helped at the competition itself, while others have been in teams working throughout the year to organise the event. Our Competition Team designs, organises, and delivers Tech Days and the Competition weekend. Our Kit Team designs and supports the software and hardware our competitors use; the Infrastructure Team ensures that our website stays up and our internal teams can work collaboratively; the Fundraising Team ensures that we have the resources needed to run our events; and the Marketing Team makes sure our efforts are seen and heard by all. A huge thank you to everyone who contributed to the success of this year’s competition.

If you’re reading this and want to join us next year, sign up on our volunteering page.

Notes to editors

Student Robotics is an annual robotics competition for 16-19 year-olds in the UK and Europe. It was founded in 2006 by university students and is free to enter thanks to our sponsors and many volunteers. Since it was first run in 2008, the final competition has grown from one room at the University of Southampton1 to the UK’s biggest autonomous robotics competition.

At the start of the academic year, teams are given a kit containing custom-made electronics at a Kickstart event, where the game for the year is announced. They then have until the Easter holiday to build fully-autonomous robots, which will compete against each other in the final competition. They are supported by volunteer mentors, and software to assist them in programming their robots is provided.

If you would like to find out more, please get in touch.

The SR Team

  1. Student Robotics is independent from the University of Southampton.