This weekend: Pi Wars 3.0!

Discovering Pi Wars 2017

Robotics competitions are some of the most exciting events around for Digital Makers, giving creators the chance to develop incredible machines, and to meet & compete against fellow makers from a huge range of areas.

With the launch of Raspberry Pi, robotics competitions became more accessible than ever, with the low-cost system hugely cutting down the cost of building a robot, while the wide range of available software and add-ons opened up a vast range of possibilities for creators.

Pi Wars was one of the first major events dedicated to competition between Raspberry Pi-based robots, bringing together dozens of teams from across the UK for two great days of competition and challenges.

While the event’s name was inspired by Robot Wars, there’s a pretty major difference between the two. Unlike the show, Pi Wars is all about non-destructive challenges, with competitors designing robots tasked with solving real-world tasks - read on to find out more about these challenges!

This year’s Pi Wars takes place on the 1st and 2nd of April 2017, with hundreds of entrants and spectators set to head down to the University of Cambridge’s Computer Laboratory across the weekend.

Best of luck to all those taking part over the competition (particularly the team from our coding club) - we hope all those attending have a great weekend!

What’s happening at Pi Wars 2017?

This year’s Pi Wars looks set to be the most impressive to date, with seven great challenges for competitors covering a wide selection of different skill sets and designs. With four separate divisions (schools/ children, family/ friends, amateur hobbyists and professionals) at the competition, the event looks set to be a real spectacular for Digital Makers around the UK.

The competitions at Pi Wars 2017 are as follows:

Straight Line Speed Test: Autonomous robots are placed at the start of a 24-foot course, and have to reach the end as fast as possible, with winners being judged over the course of 3 runs.

Minimal Maze: Autonomous robots start off in a simple maze, and have to find the way out, using sensors and cameras to determine their location and figure out directions. All robots will be entered into the maze twice, with winners being determined based on total time and a few bonus factors.

Line Following: Autonomous robots are required to follow a line across a large board, with each entrant having 5 minutes to get around the course as many times as possible - victory goes to the fastest lap, but there’s a lot of bonus points for multiple course completions.

Pi Noon - Robot vs Robot: Remote-controlled robots are equipped with a large ballon and a pin, then placed in a large arena. With a large number of teams taking part, this event is tournament-based, with a whole lot of points available for the final winner.

Obstacle Course: Remote-controlled robots are placed at the start of an obstacle course, with operators competing to complete all the obstacles in the course as quickly as possible, racking up bonus points as they get through obstacles.

Skittles: Remote-controlled robots are required to collect a small ball and use this to knock down three sets of pins. Robots get two rolls per set of pins, and can pick up bonus points for picking up strikes and spares.

Slightly Deranged Golf: Remote-controlled robots have to navigate a course twice, bringing a golf ball with them and pushing it into a hole, avoiding various hazards along the way to pick up bonus points.

Exa Networks at Pi Wars

We’ve sponsored Pi Wars for the last few years - this time round, we’re very proud to be entering a team into the competition! Three members from Exa’s coding club are heading down for the weekend, with a completely custom Pi-based robot built over the last few months.

The club’s been meeting at our office every month for years, developing an understanding of coding principles and practices, and they’re now ready to put those skills into practice at Pi Wars 2017!

Rather than use a pre-designed kit, the team’s built a robot and the software that controls it practically from scratch, working to develop electronics skills along with coding. The robot is designed to enter every one of the 7 events at this year’s Pi Wars, with its design allowing for both autonomous and remote controlling depending on the requirement of the particular competition.

Our team’s set to take part in PiWars on Saturday (the 1st of April), but we’ll be at the event all weekend. If you’re not able to attend Pi Wars, we’ll be tweeting through the weekend via our @ExaNetworks account - stay tuned for a blog looking through Pi Wars on Monday!