Pi Wars Challenge 3 – Escape Route

Pi Wars Challenge 3 – Escape Route

In this post we will focus on the third Pi Wars Challenge – Escape Route

We will first have a look at the rules as set out by the Pi Wars organisers, and then write our specific thoughts, actions, trials and errors underneath in date order. We hope to get our robot up and ready in time for this third challenge!

Aim of the challenge

To navigate from one side of a “blind maze” to the other without touching any of the coloured blocks or the walls, three times.

Control method

Remote control or Autonomous.

Time limit

5 minutes.


  • A maze, surrounded by walls, will be created from coloured blocks placed within the walls.
  • The robot will be placed at the start position of the maze, nearest the driver.
  • The driver will stand behind a set of screens so that they are unable to see the course.
  • There are three methods of competing in this challenge:
    1. Fully autonomous, based on wall following and colour identification. The autonomous function can be triggered by a button press and stopped by a button press. If running the course autonomously, the team is allowed up to a minute to calibrate their vision sensors (if used) against the coloured blocks.
    2. Blind remote control, via some sort of camera attached to the bot, with a screen on the controller mechanism.
    3. Call and response, with another person relaying instructions as to direction and distance to travel. The caller will tell the driver which direction to turn or move and the driver responds by moving the robot, trusting those instructions.
  • The coloured blocks will be placed in semi-random positions before the first run, ensuring that the driver has no way of knowing what configuration they have been placed in. They will be of one of six configurations.
  • The blocks will be Red, Green and Blue.
  • The robot will be deemed to have finished a run when any part of it crosses the yellow line on the floor at the far side.
  • The robot can drive the course up to three times.


  • The course can be driven up to three times. The quickest single attempt made will be ranked against the other competitors in that category and points awarded according to our Formula Scoring System.

Additional Points

  • 200 points will be awarded for each completed run.
  • 100 additional points will be awarded for each run completed without touching the blocks or the walls.
  • 350 points will be awarded to any robot taking on the challenge fully autonomously.
  • 250 points will be awarded to any robot taking on the challenge using blind remote control (see above).
  • 100 points will be awarded to any robot taking on the challenge using call and response (see above).


  • Each touch of the blocks or walls incurs a 10 second penalty up to a maximum of 30 seconds.
  • Robots scraping along the blocks or walls will be penalised to the maximum of 30 seconds.
  • It is permitted to rescue the robot and place it back on the course at the place where things went wrong once per run without penalty, but the clock will not be stopped.
  • An additional rescue is permitted, incurring a 15 second penalty.
  • A third rescue is not permitted; instead the run must be abandoned.
  • Abandoned or non-completed runs will be penalised by 120 seconds.

Initial thoughts

Key is speed and accuracy. Knowing the placement of barrels up front means can gauge route beforehand (serving purpose of) avoiding knocking any barrels over. But of course, if pushing nominated barrel to appropriate zone will need to think carefully beforehand about what order to go in. In terms of control, Wrecks mustn’t thrust too fast forward or backwards. No jerky movements, must be smooth. What can be attached to front to push (some sort of widened scooper) but not too wide, or even better something that can be controlled (possibly by servo motors) to open and close. That would be good. What do you use to recognise colours – is it a camera sensor? Need to explore this. How do you set the parameters?

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