Robot Tour

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Robot Tour is an event making its debut as an official event in the 2024 season. It started as a Division C trial in Ohio for the 2020 season and was also run as a trial event at the Wichita State University 2023 National Tournament in Division C.

The Event

Teams are tasked with building one programmable robotic vehicle prior to competition day, and using that robot to navigate a track to reach a target in a set amount of time as accurately as possible.

Event Parameters

  • Each team must bring and impound one Robotic Vehicle, a practice log (if prepared), programming unit (except laptops), and any additional/spare parts.
    • If the programming unit is a laptop, then a USB Flash Drive must be impounded instead of the laptop. The USB drive must contain only one robot program that is the starting program for the robot.
  • The practice log is the only paper or notes that the competitors may bring into the event area and must be impounded.
  • Teams may bring tools which do not need to be impounded. Tools may include a stand-alone non-programmable, non-graphing calculator as defined in the calculator policy found on the official Science Olympiad website.

Construction Parameters

  • The autonomous robotic vehicle must be designed and programmed to navigate a track, make decisions at intersections, travel between gates, and stop at a designated target point on the track without external interactions.
  • Electrical energy used by the Robot for any purpose, including propulsion, must be stored in a maximum of 6 (six) AA or AAA 1.2 to 1.5-volt common, commercially available batteries, individually labeled by the manufacturer. Rechargeable batteries are allowed.
  • Any battery containing lithium or lead acid is not permitted. Teams using these batteries will not be permitted to run and will receive only participation points.
  • Batteries and robotic vehicle are to remain separate from the moment they are impounded until after the start of the team’s time slot. At Impound, the batteries to be used must be submitted in a non-metallic container free of any items that might cause a short circuit. The robot should be submitted at the same time but physically separate from the batteries. Teams violating any of these conditions will have the opportunity to remedy the situation to the satisfaction of the Event Supervisor should time allow. The Event Supervisor will instruct the teams when to install the batteries and prepare their Robot for its run.
  • An approximately ¼” to ⅜” round wooden dowel must be attached to the front of the robot. When the robotic vehicle is in the ready-to-run configuration, the dowel must be approximately perpendicular to the floor, extend to within 1.0 cm of the floor, and extend at least 10.0 cm above the floor. The dowel must be the leading part of the Robot at all times and easily accessible by the Event Supervisor. The dowel attachment device may not extend more than 0.5 cm beyond the front of the dowel. The dowel’s front bottom edge will be the Robot’s Measurement Point for distance measurements.
  • The entire Robot in the ready-to-run configuration must fit in any orientation in a 30.0 cm by 30.0 cm space of any height.
  • All parts of the Robot must move as a whole; no tethers or other separate pieces are allowed. The only parts allowed to contact the floor during the run are parts already in contact with the floor in the ready-to-run configuration. Pieces falling off during the run constitutes a construction violation.
  • Participants must be able to answer questions regarding the design, construction, and operation of the device per the Building Policy found on the official Science Olympiad website.

Practice Log

  • A Practice Log is recommended but not required. The Practice Log are the only papers or notes that the competitors may bring into the event area and must be impounded in order for the team to use it during the Setup Time.

The Track

  • The track area is a 2 meter by 2 meter square area on a smooth, level, and hard surface.
  • The square track area is marked by 2.5 cm tape lines on the outside. The 2.0 meter dimension is measured from the inside to the inside of the tape lines.
  • The track area is divided evenly into 16 square zones approximately 50 cm by 50 cm. It is recommended to use ¼” wide tape to mark the six dividing lines inside the track area, but the lines may also be left imaginary and indicated only with marks on the outside tape lines every 50 cm.
  • The Start Point is marked on the outer boundary tape line on the inside edge. The mark is centered between any inside dividing lines and/or a perpendicular outer boundary tape line.
  • The Target Point is in the center of one of the sixteen zones. The Target Point is marked at the center of an approximately 2.5 cm by 2.5 cm piece of tape.
  • Eight wooden 2x4 Obstacles with dimensions 1.5 by 3.5 by 16 inches are placed on the track lines. Each 2x4 can be placed on any inside or outside tape line, centered between adjacent perpendicular inside or outside track lines. The location of the 2x4s needs to be marked by the Event Supervisor in case a 2x4 needs to be relocated after a robot makes contact or is temporarily removed for measurements.
  • Bonus Gate Zones are marked by 2.5cm tape lines. Each Gate Zone is approximately 50 cm by 50 cm square. The tape will be placed on the inside edge of the imaginary lines and/or the outer tape line to form the Gate Zone. The Event Supervisor will select the locations of the Gate Zones after impound. Each Gate Zone will be marked with a letter (Ex: “A”, “B”, “R”, ”X”, …). The number of Gate Zones will be up to 3 for regionals, up to 4 for states and up to 6 for nationals.
  • At the Event Supervisor’s discretion, more than one track may be used. If so, the team may choose which track they use, but all of a team’s runs must be on the same track.

Example Track Diagram


The Competition

  • The start point, target point, target time, and number of gates to be passed along with their locations are chosen by the Event Supervisor (ES) and must not be announced until the impound period is over. The number of gates will be up to 3 for regionals, up to 4 for states and up to 6 for nationals. The target time will be chosen between 50 and 75 seconds.
  • Only participants and the Event Supervisors will be allowed in the event area. Once participants enter the event area to compete, they must not leave or receive outside assistance, materials, or communication.
  • Participants will be given an Event Time of 12 minutes to perform the following actions. The Event Supervisor will record the total event time used which may affect all scored runs. The Event Time will not include time used by the Event Supervisor for measuring. If a run has started before the 12-minute period has elapsed, it will be allowed to run to completion. The recorded event time must stop at 12 minutes.
  • Teams are allowed to make programming changes to achieve the maximum points during their event time.
  1. If a laptop is the programming unit, then the competitors must open the single program file from the impounded USB drive in front of the Event Supervisor.
  2. Teams must only modify the impounded program file during the competition.
  3. Opening other files or referencing the Internet will result in their Final Score receiving the Not Impounded penalty.
  • At the Event Supervisor’s discretion Participants may use AC outlet power during their time slot but this may depend on event location.
  • Teams may have up to 2 successful runs or 3 Failed Runs (whichever comes first). Teams may ask to have the run recorded as a failed run and stop the run. Removing a Robot before the end of a run will be recorded as a failed run.
  • In the ready-to-run configuration, the Robot’s Measurement Point must be over the Start Point with the Robot in any orientation. The Robot must remain at the starting position without being touched.
  • Teams may adjust their Robot (ex: programming changes, physical modifications, ...) during their event time. The Event Supervisor may re-verify that the Robot meets specifications prior to each run.
  • Teams must run their Robot on the track provided by the event supervisor. Running the Robot on any surface other than the event track will result in the team’s next run being recorded as a failed run for each occurrence.
  • Participants may clean the track during their event time, but the track must remain undamaged and dry at all times. No wet and/or tacky substances may be applied to the track, wheels, or treads.
  • Teams must start the Robot using any part of an unsharpened #2 pencil with an unused eraser, supplied by the Event Supervisor, in any motion to actuate a trigger. They may not touch the Robot to start it, hold it while actuating the trigger, or “push” the Robot to get it started. Once they start a run, the participants must not touch their Robot and must wait until notified by the Event Supervisor to retrieve their Robot.
  • Run Time starts when the robot begins to move and ends when the Robot comes to a complete stop; recoils are considered part of the Run Time. If the robot does not move within 3 seconds after coming to a stop, the run is considered to have ended; the 3 seconds are not included in the Run Time. Any action occurring after that time does not count as part of the run. The event supervisor is encouraged to use three timers. The middle time of the 3 timers must be the official Run Time. The Run Time must be recorded in seconds to the precision of the timing devices.
  • A Gate Zone Bonus is awarded for each Gate Zone entered in any order. Each Gate Zone may only be counted once. The front side of the Robot with the dowel rod must be the first side of the robot to travel into the Gate Zone. Traveling backwards or sideways will not count as entering the Gate Zone.
  • A Contact Penalty is awarded for making contact with any of the 2x4 Obstacles during a team’s run. This penalty can only occur once. Teams may choose before moving to the track area to compete without the 2x4 Obstacles for a penalty less than the Contact Penalty. All runs must be attempted with or without the 2x4 Obstacles. Teams cannot change their decision once their Track Time begins.
  • A Stalling Penalty will be awarded for delaying movement actions at the end of a run with the intent to improve only the Time Score. Possible delaying actions can include but are not limited to: repeating a single or multiple movements, moving in small circles, or other motions designed to improve the Time Score only. The end of the run is defined as occurring in the 50cm by 50cm Target Point square or an adjacent 50cm by 50cm square.
  • A Failed Run occurs for any run that:
  1. Does not finish within twice the target time
  2. The Robot exits the track area as determined by all Robot floor contact points being completely outside of the track’s outer perimeter lines.
  3. If the time and/or distance cannot be measured for a Robot (e.g., it starts before the Event Supervisor is ready, the participants pick it up before it is measured).
  • If the Robot does not move upon actuation of the trigger, it does not count as a run and the team may set up for another run.
  • A team filing an appeal must leave their Robot and programming unit/USB in the competition area.


  • Each team’s Final Score is their lowest Run Score plus any Final Score Penalties. Low score wins.
  • The Run Score is Time Score + Distance Score + Gate Bonus + Run Penalties for non-failed runs, or 750 points + Run Penalties for failed runs.
  • The Time Score is 100 + (Target Time - Run Time) x 2 if the Run Time is less than the Target Time, or 100 + (Run Time - Target Time) if the Run Time is greater than or equal to the Target Time.
  • The Distance Score is 1 point/cm x Robot Distance (the point-to-point distance from the Measurement Point to the Target Point in centimeters measured to the nearest 0.1 cm).
  • The Gate Bonus is -15 points for each Gate Zone entered forwards.
  • Run Penalties:
    • Contact Penalty: +50 points for one or more contacts with the Obstacles.
    • No Obstacles Penalty: +35 points for choosing to run without the Obstacles.
    • Stalling Penalty: +20 points for the presence of any delaying actions.
    • Competition Violation: +150 points for one or more Competition Violations.
    • Construction Violation: +300 points for one or more Construction Violations.
  • Final Score Penalties:
    • Robot’s movements tested during Setup Time: +200 points
    • Robot Not Impounded: +5000 points
  • Ties are broken in this sequence: lower Time Score on scored run, lower Robot Distance on scored run, higher number of Gate Zones entered on scored run, lower Track Time used, next better non-scored run score.


2024 Event Poster
2023 Presentation by the National Event Supervisor
2020 Trial Rules