Botball revolves around using autonomous robots to complete a series of tasks (such as gathering and collecting objects) within two minutes. Sensors and cameras give input to the robots, which help to identify scoring objects. Beforehand, competitors program the robots using the programming language Interactive C. Botball competitors also must complete an online documentation of their daily progress and goals to score points.
A similar competition for adults, called Beyond Botball, was started in 2001.
At the start of each Botball season, every team is given a kit of components with enough material to build two completely autonomous robots.
The mechanical components used in Botball are Lego Technic bricks. The electrical components have included a variety of robot controllers, of which each team's kit contains two (enabling them to build two fully autonomous robots out of each kit), as well as a number of different sensors and motors.
The 2008 theme is outer space based, with the robots on board a space station. The robots must get ready for a solar flare by collecting "food" (green balls), rescuing "crew members" (orange balls), and deploying "satellites" (blue cups) and "solar sails" (cocktail umbrellas). The robots must also collect Botguy (a plush robot) and a garden (a large green ball) and place them on their side. The board is made up of two eight foot by four foot boards connected by a two foot by four foot ditch. The ditch has two bridges on either side which the robots must knock down to get to the other side.
The field is 8 ft by 4 ft large and surrounded by 1/2 inch PVC pipe. When two teams compete against each other, they start on opposite ends of the playing surface and have 120 seconds to move around objects and score points. At the end of a game, the robots must stop themselves, at which time a judge scores the game to determine which teams' robots won.
|Side 1 ("your side")||Solarium||Shelter||Space||Side 2 ("other team's side")|
|Team 1's robot||0||0||0||0||15 on their side and 30 in shelter|
Regional Botball competitions are held between January and May of each year (the "Botball season") depending on the region. Each Botball season starts with a two-day workshop, typically held on a Saturday and Sunday, where each several members of each team are provided hands on instruction on how to use that year's robotics equipment. At the end of this workshop, the game rules for that year are announced and the teams are then given anywhere from six to eight weeks to build and program their robots. At the end of the building period, all the teams gather to compete in a head-to-head double elimination tournament. Tournaments are generally held on a Saturday. In the morning all teams are given three chances to play unopposed at the official game tables. The best two of the three unopposed rounds are used to determine the initial seed rank for every team going into the head-to-head double elimination tournament.
There are competitions in 14 different regions in the United States of America:
Botball also has 4 tournaments in the Middle East:
Starting in 2001, KIPR began holding a national competition and in 2003 the first international team participated. The international competition is held during the summer after all of the regional competitions have completed. Every team that participates in a regional competition is eligible to participate in the international competition. The game rules at the international competition are generally identical to that year's regional game.