Contest Rules

This document contains the official rules for the 2020 Rambotics Contest. Rambotics is a robotics competition hosted by the IEEE Student Branch at VCU.

Last update: January 18, 2020

Basic Information

VCU Engineering East Hall Atrium
401 West Main Street
Richmond, VA 23284

Date / Time
April 11, 2020
10 am – 3:30 pm

Andy Fabian


Rambotics is a robotics competition that challenges participants to build the fastest robot that can complete different challenges. Contests run time trials on three courses: a drag race track, a line-following track, and a maze / obstacle course. The robot with the fastest completion time, with some opportunities for bonus points.

Equipment and strategy are deliberately left as open as possible, with some concessions for safety and comfort.

These rules are subject to change. The judges try to provide the best possible rules and competition experience. Sometimes errors are made and situations change. The judges reserve the right to make changes at any time to the rules, point allocations, and prizes.

Contest Schedule

10 am: Opening Remarks, Posting of Time Trial Order

10:15 am – Noon: Open Practice (Tracks will be open but not controlled. Multiple teams may be on a track at once. Judges may observe for rule infractions / unprofessional behavior / safety, but will not otherwise participate.

Noon – 1 pm: Lunch Break. Pizzas and Soda are being delivered for participants. Several restaurants are also within easy walking distance.

1:15 pm – 2:45 pm: Time Trials. Teams will be called in the order posted. Teams not available when called will be skipped. The order will be repeated as many times as permitted by the schedule.

3:00 pm – 3:30 pm: Awards and Closing Remarks

Score Calculation

Final Score = Drag Race + Line-Following Score + Maze Score Deductions

Drag Race Score: Get to the end as fast as possible, but stay in a straight line! 1 point for every tenth of a second it takes to get to the end, then the total score will be 600 – (total time taken).

Line-Following Score: For each checkpoint that the robot hits, the team earns 300 base points plus up to 100 time points. Time points are given for the number of seconds below 100 that the robot takes to move from the last checkpoint to the current one.

Maze Score: 2000 points for finishing the maze – 1 point for every tenth of a second it takes to navigate.


  • Avoid hitting the competing robot in the drag racing. With every instance of hitting the competing robot, 10 points will be deducted.
  • Touching the robot during a line-following run: 200 points per checkpoint (note that catching / stopping a robot to terminate its run or prevent a fall off the track does not incur a deduction)
  • Unprofessional Behavior: 1000 or 3000 points (Unprofessional Behavior includes, but is not limited to: damaging other teams’ equipment, damaging the contest equipment, disruptive behavior, attacks on the scoring system)
  • Accidentally damaging contest equipment: 200 points
  • Using prohibited equipment: 3000 points

Robot Parameters

  1. Robots must be self-powered and self-contained (no umbilical cords)
  2. The robot is allowed to transmit wireless telemetry to a receive-only monitoring station. The robot may not be remote-controlled in any way during competition runs. Note that this will be a crowded environment, and RF frequency management is not provided. If used, the monitoring station must be placed next to the track start point during runs.
  3. Internal combustion engines and rockets are not allowed. Fuel, ignition sources, and explosives are not allowed under any circumstances.
  4. Robots must be substantially developed by the team. As this is a college-level engineering competition, teams are expected to be deeply involved in the design and operation of their robot.
  5. Robots cannot deliberately take flight. Robots cannot have any form of flight control system engaged.
  6. There is no size, weight, or energy restrictions placed upon the robots. However the robots must compete on the courses provided, so practical maximum values can be found from the following descriptions of the Line-Following and Maze/Obstacle courses.

Line-Following Course

The line-following course is as pictured above and below. It has a white line, created with white gaff tape, on a black wooden surface. Black, low-sheen paint and OSB wood sheets are used to create the track surface. The track has inclined and declined ramps, and a sideways-leaning section in the middle.

The track starts on the left side. Contestants may use the black and white calibrations areas if so desired, and then they must place the robot on the white line, prior to the start gate. After confirming their identity with the judge and obtaining permission to start the run, the team should activate the robot. When it passes through the starting gate, the track’s scoring system will automatically begin. Live time and score will be displayed on a nearby monitor. The run ends with the robot crosses the finish line or fails to complete the run.

Critical Details:

  • Maximum incline: 15 degrees
  • Maximum decline: 15 degrees
  • Maximum roll angle: 15 degrees
  • Minimum track width: 11 inches
  • Minimum vertical clearance: 7.5 inches
  • Automatic scoring gates: 5 (Start, Checkpoint 1, Checkpoint 2, Checkpoint 3, Checkpoint 4 / Finish Line)
  • Line Width: Typical 0.5 inches, some parts wider (see images below)

Additional Images:

Maze Course

The maze track rewards creative thinking over brute force solutions. There are multiple solutions, but only one finish line.

Critical details:

  • Maze is made on a 13.5″ square grid. Columns are 1″ square dowels. Walls are 1/4″ plywood. Note that this means that the wall contour is not flat.
  • Clearance between parallel walls is only guaranteed to be a minimum of 12 inches.
  • Vertical clearance is unlimited.

Note: Maze layout in above photos is for illustration only. The final maze layout will be unveiled on the competition date


Best Overall Scores:

1st Prize: $400

2nd Prize: $300

3rd Prize: $200

Best Score on Each Track, Not in Overall Top 3:

Maze Track: $50

Line-Following Track: $50

Drag Race: $50