New for 2023: Robotic Racing Series! With the usually annual Pi Wars robot competition not happening in 2023, Hacky Racers are collaborating with the Pi Wars organisers to create a new robot event. The first event will be held on the weekend of July 29th – 30th, in the Cambridge area at the Roger Needham Building.

Free/Supporter tickets for spectators are available here!

No longer will the Hacky Racer’s track be just for puny humans; finally the robots get to show off their racing prowess! We’ll be accepting challengers from both autonomous and remotely controlled robotic entries, big and small. Entries will get the full-size track to themselves for qualifying, then race others in their class in mass start mayhem. The classes will be split by size: A4, A2 and Full-size. We welcome school teams, families, collaborations and individuals. Following the usual Hacky Racer model, prizes will be awarded based on popularity (crowd vote) and the results on track. Register your entry here!

Details of the Classes

A4: maximum length 300mm (excluding bumpers), maximum width 225mm, maximum weight 10kg. Existing Pi Wars, DIY Robocar “stock” class and Donkeycar robots should be eligible for this class.
A2: maximum length 600mm, maximum width 420mm, maximum weight 25kg. F1Tenth and DIY Robocar “unlimited” class robots should be eligible for this class.
Full-size: maximum length 1500mm, maximum width 900mm! Full-size entries need to meet the standard Hacky Racer rules. This includes having a team member as a passenger! We’ll make two exceptions to the standard rules: the budget limit is doubled (from the usual £500, to £1000), and steering must *not* be done by the passenger.

The races will be split by Autonomous or Remote Control. A team can enter more than one class, and the same robot hardware can be used in both the Autonomous and Remote Control classes if the team wishes, provided they have sufficient battery capacity to run two 5 minute races back to back.

General rules:

These rules may change slightly until the date and location of the first event are announced, but any changes will likely be clarifications rather than changes in intent. There will be a tech check at the start of every event to ensure that all entries comply with the rules and are safe.

We’ll be recording lap times using IR transponders that we provide on the day. The transponder itself is 38mm x 65mm x 22mm (STEP file linked below), please allow for a suitable mounting.

black plastic transponder box in a 3d printed mount
The transponder in a mount. It needs to be positioned such that the LED is pointing upwards

It’s expected that all entries will have a theme and some decoration, to help win the crowd vote. See below for examples of robots with recognisable, stylish bodywork. 

A robot with Red Dwarf Starbug inspired bodywork and mechanum wheels
Shrub Bug, a Pi Wars competitor
A hacky racer with hoverboard wheels and a wooden Cybertruck style body
EMF Rover, a Cybertruck-themed Full-size robot

You’ll also need to provide a 150x45mm label for the voting board. This can be paper, cardboard, or something fancier. See below for a photo of the board and example labels.

a board with buttons and colourful labels for each racer
Hacky Racers Moxie Board, capturing the audience vote

Electric propulsion only, no ICE engines. Lithium/lipo batteries are allowed but must be charged in a fireproof container (such as a lipobag) and in the designated charging area at the event. The team must understand safe handling and charging processes for their batteries. Over-discharge protection is recommended.

For the A2 and A4 classes, there’s no budget cap and no restrictions on the components that can be used. For example, the main controller can be a microcontroller, single-board computer, or something else, with no brand restrictions.
All entries must have an easily accessible on/off switch on the robot and a means of stopping them remotely, preferably with something more robust than over Wi-Fi. For example, a standard RC transmitter and receiver, with the robot controller needing to receive a consistent “Go” signal from the receiver for it to drive. We will also accept control over Bluetooth for the first event, with a view to allowing it for all events if it proves practical. If you use an RC or Bluetooth controller, be sure to check it has sufficient range (at least 20m), and what the failsafe behaviour is if the transmitter goes out of range or gets turned off, we’ll check for this at the event. For Full-size entries, the on/off switch can be a removable link, an e-stop or a contactor/relay, but it must disconnect all power.
Entries must have a front bumper that isn’t sharp.

It’s worth mentioning that we will run the event even if it’s raining, so it’ll be worth waterproofing your electronics. We’ll have event shelters so that at least the pits will be dry.

The track will be approximately 4m wide (between barriers) with a 100m perimeter. The tightest corners could be a hairpin, with a 2m centreline turning radius. An example of a possible track layout is shown below.  It will be laid out with plastic “Tote” boxes. The boxes are mostly red or black, with some blue ones, as shown in the photo below. The boxes are 500mm long, 360mm wide and 260mm tall. We will place them end to end but we can’t guarantee there won’t be some slight gaps (max 100mm), especially after they’ve been crashed into a few times!
For the first robot-focussed event, the track will be in a paved car park, so the track will be fairly smooth, with bumps less than 25mm. Many of the later events are likely to be on grass.
We will be setting up a GPS RTK base station and UWB anchors from Makerfabs, all of which can be optionally used by entries for positioning. More info on these location systems can be found here. Timing will be via I-laps compatible IR transponders as mentioned above, picked up by an overhead timing gantry at the start/finish line.

If you want to enter, please register here.

If you have any questions about the event or the rules, we can be contacted through the contact form, @hacky_racers on Twitter, Hacky Racers on Facebook or the Pi Wars discord.

Example track layout using the plastic boxes
racers on the srtarting grid, with a track marked out with black and red plastic boxes in a large field
Full-size Hacky Racers with track barriers