NimbRo-OP2X Humanoid Soccer Robot at RoboCup 2018 in Montreal
NimbRo-OP2X[1] Humanoid Soccer Robot at RoboCup 2018 in Montreal

A robot competition is an event where the abilities and characteristics of robots may be tested and assessed. Usually they have to outperform other robots in order to win the competition. Many competitions are for schools but several competitions with professional and hobbyist participants also exist.


Robotic competitions have been organized since the 1970s and 1980s. In 1979 a Micromouse competition was organized by the IEEE as shown in the Spectrum magazine.[2]

Although it is hard to pinpoint the first robotic competition, two events are well known nowadays for their longevity: the All Japan Sumo in Japan, and the Trinity College International Fire Fighting Robot Contest.[3]

Two contemporary events are Robocup and Robo One. Companies like Lego and VEX have also developed branded events, which they call leagues, although they function more like individual cups in regional qualifiers with finals.

There is some controversy about whether university-specific challenges should be considered competitions or workshops. The general trend is to open competitions to the public, to prevent nepotism and improve the quality of the competing robots.

Some organizations have tried to standardize robotics competition through the introduction of full-fledged leagues with a standard calendar, but the model has worked only in some countries, such as Spain, where the National League was founded in 2008 and still functioning.[4]

Types of competitions

There are many types of robot competitions, making it hard to compare them or establish standards for them. For example:


Major competitions and organizations

All these competitions are indoors, itinerant in their location and showcase different categories. The competitions in this listing have a yearly recurrent major impact in their locations with a huge national impact or an international significant reach. Map in reference [5]

Competition Branded Students / Pros Founded Short description
FIRST Yes (Lego) Students 1992 US-based international organization
BEST Robotics No Students 1993[citation needed] American student competition
FIRA No Both 1997 Asian organization competing with Robocup
Robocup No Both 1997 Organization similar to FIRA but with more expansion
Battlebots No Pros 2000 American TV Program
ABU Robocon No Students 2002 Asian organization similar to FIRST
Robo One No Both 2002 Asian humanoid reference event
RoboGames (aka Robolympics) No Both 2004 American well known competition
World Robot Olympiad Yes (Lego) Students 2004 Similar to Lego and Vex with less branding
VEX Robotics Competition Yes (VEX) Students 2007 International robotics competition in multiple grade levels.
Technoxian No Both 2014 India-based international Robotics competition
RoboMaster Yes (DJI) Students 2015 China-based international team shooting competition
RoboCap League Yes Students 2021 RoboCap League is the world's best Robotics Competition designed by experts to test the Robotics Skills of kids

Historically relevant competitions

ANA Avatar XPRIZE Competition Finals[6]

These competitions had an important impact on the evolution of technology, public awareness or other robotic competitions in the world.

Competition In / Out Branded / Open Students / Pros Location Movement Short description Year first run Still active
IEEE Micromouse competition Indoors Open Both Itinerant Wheeled Mouse labyrinth navigation done in several locations: APEC, Taiwan and Japan 1979 [7] Yes
International Aerial Robotics Competition (IARC) Both Open University only 2 Venues Aerial Fully autonomous aerial robots; multi-year missions; 2 simultaneous venues (USA and Asia) 1991[8] Yes
AUVSI Foundation's Intelligent Ground Vehicle Competition (IGVC) Outdoors Open Students Fixed Wheeled Students customize autonomous buggies at Oakland University 1993 Yes
Trinity Fire Fighting Robot Competition Indoors Open Both Fixed Wheeled Fire fighting historical event at Trinity College (Connecticut) 1994[9] Yes
RoboCup Indoors Open Both Itinerant Wheeled/Legged Several league (Football, Rescue, @home, @work, Junior) 1997 Yes
RoboSub and Roboboat Outdoors Open Both Fixed Underwater AUVs innovation in San Diego 1997 Yes
Eurobot Indoors Open Students Itinerant Wheeled Changing normative student event originated in France 1998[10] Yes
Centennial Challenges Outdoors Open Pros Itinerant Several NASA's contests for non-government achievements (not strictly a robotics event)[11] 2003 No
DARPA Grand Challenge Outdoors Open Pros Fixed Wheeled Autonomous street cars in the USA (in 2019 focus changing to "spectrum collaboration")[12] 2004 No
European Land-Robot Trial Outdoors Open Pros Itinerant Wheeled Military R&D in Europe ("not organised as a competition but as a trial,")[13] 2006 Yes
UAV Outback Challenge Outdoors Open Both Fixed Aerial UAVs innovation in Australia 2007 Yes
Roborace Outdoors Branded Pros Itinerant Wheeled Autonomous Formula E cars TBD ?
ANA Avatar XPRIZE Indoors Open Pros Long Beach, CA Wheeled Telepresence Systems 2018-2022 No

Local active competitions with Wikipedia pages

Location for these competitions is fixed, usually linked to a venue or institution.

Competition In / Out Branded / Open Students / Pros Movement Short description Last edition
National Engineering Robotics Contest Indoors Open Students Several A student competition at NUST Active
Pioneers in Engineering Indoors Open Students Wheeled Student competition Active
Botball Indoors Open Students Wheeled Student competition Active
Student Robotics Indoors Open Students Several Student competition at the University of Southampton Active
DEF CON Indoors Open Students Several Hacker event with a competition Active

Unsourced or discontinued minor competitions

The following events appear to be inactive or have no reference that show them to be active.

OFF Road Robotics Competition

The competition is organized by the Robot Association of Finland.

The goal is to build a robot which is able to move without human help off-road. The competition is held annually at the mid-summer Jämi Fly In air show in Finland.[14][15] The competition track is randomly selected 10 minutes before competition by the judge, marked with four wooden sticks to make a 200-meter track. The track consists of sand roads and fields containing bushes and rocks. The robots must run outside the sticks from start to finish without human assistance as fast as possible. YouTube movies and pictures from the 2007 and 2008 competitions are available.[16]

International Autonomous Robot Racing Challenge (IARRC)

Student teams from around the world compete in an outdoor racing competition, where small-scale robots race against other robots to the finish line, without any human guidance or control. Their skills are put to the test in a static judging event, a drag race and a circuit race event, where the vehicles navigate around obstacles and obey the traffic rules. These robots are finding their way into applications such as space exploration, mining, search and rescue, remote sensing and automotive inspection.

Robot Racing is an effort to promote research in autonomous mobile robotics technology. The competition provides students with engineering design challenges, including components of mechanical, computer, control software, and system integration. Students work together to design and build robotic vehicles that can navigate twisting, obstacle-filled courses without any human guidance or control.

Mobile Autonomous Systems Laboratory competition (Maslab)

The Mobile Autonomous Systems Laboratory, or Maslab, is a university-level vision-based autonomous robotics competition. The competition is open to students of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and requires multithreaded applications of image processing, robotic movements, and target ball deposition. The robots are run with Ubuntu Linux and run on an independent OrcBoard platform that facilitates sensor-hardware additions and recognition.

Flying Donkey Challenge

The Flying Donkey Challenge is an escalating series of sub-challenges held annually in Africa with a focus on lifting cargo. The initial challenge was scheduled to take place in Kenya in November 2014 with four enabling technology and design sub-challenges and three non-technical challenges.[17][18]

Micro Air Vehicle Events

A series of micro air vehicle (MAV) events have been sponsored by organizations including the University of Florida, the U.S. Army, French DGA, Indian Ministry of Defense, and others. For example, the International Micro Air Vehicle conferences (IMAVs) always include competitions in which capabilities are demonstrated and missions are performed. The goal of most competitions is to stimulate research on full autonomy of the micro air vehicles. Prizes range up to an aggregate value of $600,000 in 2008.

UBBOTS competition

UBBOTS is an annual robot exhibition taking place at Babes-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca, Romania.[19] The teams have to create a robot that helps humans and simplify their life.

Duke Annual Robo-Climb Competition (DARC)

Main article: Duke Annual Robo-Climb Competition

Hosted by Duke University, the Duke Annual Robo-Climb Competition (DARC) challenges students to create wall-climbing robots. The competition is discontinued.


Sakarya University Robotics Competition (SAURO) is a robotics competition hosted by Sakarya University since 2009. The organization is open to undergraduates, graduates and high school students. The competition is discontinued.

First Robot Olympics

Main article: First Robot Olympics

The first Robot Olympics took place in Glasgow Scotland on September 27–28, 1990. The event was run by The Turing Institute at the Sports Centre at the University of Strathclyde. It featured 68 robots competing in a range of sporting events. The robots were from 12 different countries and involved over 2,500 visitors over the two-day period. The competition is discontinued.

See also


  1. ^ Ficht, Grzegorz; Farazi, Hafez; Brandenburger, Andre; Rodriguez, Diego; Pavlichenko, Dmytro; Allgeuer, Philipp; Hosseini, Mojtaba; Behnke, Sven (November 2018). "NimbRo-OP2X: Adult-Sized Open-Source 3D Printed Humanoid Robot". 2018 IEEE-RAS 18th International Conference on Humanoid Robots (Humanoids). Beijing, China: IEEE. pp. 1–9. arXiv:1810.08395. doi:10.1109/HUMANOIDS.2018.8625038. ISBN 978-1-5386-7283-9. S2CID 53044123.
  2. ^ "Maze Runner Archives". May 8, 2010. Retrieved September 29, 2018.
  3. ^ "Trinity College Int'L Firefighting Home Robot Contest". Retrieved September 29, 2018.
  4. ^ "Liga nacional de robotica de competicion". Retrieved September 29, 2018.
  5. ^ "Robotics Competitions".
  6. ^ Behnke, Sven; Adams, Julie A.; Locke, David (2023). "The $10 Million ANA Avatar XPRIZE Competition Advanced Immersive Telepresence Systems". arXiv:2308.07878 [cs.RO].
  7. ^ "Maze Runner Archives". May 8, 2010. Retrieved September 29, 2018.
  8. ^ "International Aerial Robotics Competition home page". Retrieved October 5, 2018.
  9. ^ "Trinity Fire Fighting Robot Competition". Retrieved October 5, 2018.
  10. ^ "EUROBOT: International Students Robotic Contest". Retrieved October 5, 2018.
  11. ^ "STMD: Centennial Challenges". September 3, 2015. Retrieved October 5, 2018.
  12. ^ "New DARPA Grand Challenge to Focus on Spectrum Collaboration". Retrieved October 5, 2018.
  13. ^ "ELROB – The European Land Robot Trial". Retrieved October 5, 2018.
  14. ^ "Jami Fly In". Retrieved August 31, 2008.
  15. ^ "Off-road Robot Car Competition 2007". Archived from the original on April 25, 2008. Retrieved August 31, 2008.
  16. ^ "Off Road 2007 videos". Retrieved August 31, 2008.
  17. ^ "The Flying Donkey Challenge". Archived from the original on April 24, 2014.
  18. ^ Munford, Monty (February 13, 2014). "Forget Amazon, drone delivery will take off in Africa". Wired UK.
  19. ^ "UBBots". Archived from the original on March 4, 2015.