robotics equipment


Botball is an annual Robotics competitions for middle and high school students. Botball was started in 1997 by the KISS Institute for Practical Robotics (KIPR).

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.


Botball was first started in 1997 by the KISS Institute for Robotics.

Technical components

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.

Robot controllers used in Botball

Sensors and motors


In Botball, servos motors are generally used to power an arm or attachment on the robot, as the motors supplied in the kit have a limited range of motion.

  • Electric DC motors

In Botball, the electric DC motors are generally used for powering wheels.


  • Passive sensors

* Touch sensor
A touch sensor detects when the sensor is hit.
*Light sensor
A light sensor detects light. Light sensors are used in the beginning of the round when a bulb lights up to signal the beginning of a round.
* Color camera
In Botball, the camera is used to keep track of moving objects. The camera can track areas (or "blobs") of color (this is called the "blob tracker").

  • Active sensors

* Infrared emitter/receivers
* Sonar sensor
This sensor is used to tell the distance between the robot and an object.

Programming language

The official programming language used in Botball is Interactive C.


Robot construction

Robots can only be constructed of the parts included in the kit.

  • A maximum of 36 square inches of paper/foil (which can weigh up to 20 pounds) may be used. The paper used must be black or white.
  • String may be used in the construction of the robot; up to 49 inches may be used.
  • Five #19 rubber bands can be used.
  • The metal parts included in the kit cannot be broken into smaller pieces.
  • The only removable parts on the iRobot Create are the rear wheel, the drive wheel clips, and the rear cargo bay wall. Any other parts cannot be removed or disassembled.
  • The area the robots start in is 15 by 24 by 15 inches (5400 in3)

*The robot must be under 15 inches in height at start.
*The only part of the robot that is allowed out of the start box is the light sensor that tells the robot to start.
*The light sensor can stick out 3 inches at maximum.

  • A team may have four different objects on the field.

*All the objects must fit into the starting box.

  • No wireless communications are allowed during the tournament.

Game play

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.


The initial score of a team is 0.
Side 1 ("your side") Solarium Shelter Space Side 2 ("other team's side")
Satellite -4 -6 -6 0 N/A
Solar sail -3 -3 -3 0 N/A
Plant 1 6 0 0 N/A
Crew 1 0 6 0 N/A
Garden 5 15 3 0 N/A
Botguy 5 3 15 0 N/A
Team 1's robot 0 0 0 0 15 on their side and 30 in shelter

The Botball season

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.

Regions and international competitions

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.


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