Simulated Time

In the simulated environment, time advances only at the pace that the simulator is run and in cooperation with the controller code (such as the code controlling your robot). As a result, using time.time to know how long your robot has been running for or time.sleep to wait for some duration may be unreliable.


Existing projects: the Robot class

For existing projects the default Robot class will automatically advance the simulator all the time. This can make programming your robot slightly easier as you don’t need to worry about the progress of time and (just like a real robot) you can assume that time passing will just happen.

However this has a drawback – because the simulator advances time in small chunks (rather than the smooth progression we’re used to in reality) it can mean that your robots actions sometimes run for slightly more or less time than you expect. While the time difference will be small (a few tens of milliseconds), it is likely to impact attempts at more precise movement more than larger actions due to their shorter time.

This may mean for example that turning by a small angle to line up with a token will sometimes work and sometimes point the robot in not quite the right direction.

If your robot code is impacted by these unpredictability issues we recommend that you change over to using the ManualTimestepRobot class instead. For guidance on doing this, see the upgrade guide below.

This class is maintained for compatibility with earlier releases of the simulator, though its use is discouraged (especially for new projects).

New projects: the ManualTimestepRobot class

For new projects, or existing projects that want to be sure of getting precise robot behaviour, the recommended approach is to use the ManualTimestepRobot class.

This approach relies upon your code advancing the simulation explicitly by calling its sleep method (documented below) in order for the simulation to actually run. This should not be an issue for most robot code however as you will likely be doing this anyway in order to wait for things to happen.

If you find that the simulator freezes then this indicates that your code is busy doing something without giving the simulator a chance to run. This usually indicates that you have a loop somewhere which is expecting time to advance on its own and which should be modified to call R.sleep occasionally (even a very small value will allow the simulator to progress).


If you want to wait for something to happen within the simulation, and you can be reasonably confident that it will take a given amount of time, you can use sleep method on your robot to pause your code for a given duration.

Internally this uses the simulation’s own clock and so is suitable for use in place of time.sleep. Note that, just as with time.sleep, while your code is sleeping your robot will continue any actions it was doing.

# Blink the output
R.ruggeduinos[0].digital_write(A_PIN, 1)
R.sleep(1.5)  # Sleep for a second and a half of simulation time
R.ruggeduinos[0].digital_write(A_PIN, 0)

Getting the current time

If you need to measure the time since some previous moment within the simulator, your robot has a time method which can be used in place of time.time to get a number (in seconds) that increases in line with simulation time.

Time zero as returned by this method is the point at which the simulation began, however you should not rely on that being a useful reference point as it may not be the moment at which the match began.

then = R.time()

# .. do some other things ..

now = R.time()

duration = now - then

Changing from Robot to ManualTimestepRobot

The changes needed to move from using Robot to ManualTimestepRobot are fairly small since both classes have the same interface. This means that anywhere in the docs a Robot is used, you can also use a ManualTimestepRobot.

  1. Anywhere that your code mentions Robot, change it to ManualTimestepRobot, for example:

     from sr.robot import Robot  # change this
     R = Robot()  # change this
     R.motors[0].m1.power = 20  # this stays the same

    should be changed to:

     from sr.robot import ManualTimestepRobot
     R = ManualTimestepRobot()
     R.motors[0].m1.power = 20
  2. Remove any usages of either time.time or time.sleep and replace them with the equivalent robot methods (documented above). For example:

     import time  # remove this everywhere
     start = time.time()
     print("I slept for {} seconds".format(time.time() - start))

    should be changed to:

     start = R.time()
     print("I slept for {} seconds".format(R.time() - start))
  3. Check for any places where you have code which expect that R.time() will increase on its own and ensure that they sleep for at least a very small amount of time on each iteration. For example:

     end = R.time() + 5
     while R.time() < end:
         if has_touched_something(R):

    should be changed to:

     end = R.time() + 5
     while R.time() < end:
         R.sleep(0.01)  # note addition of this line
         if has_touched_something(R):