Line Following Contest Rules

Line following rules

Proposal: These rules are the proposed San Diego Robotics Club Line Following Contest Rules as of 26 July, 2012 for a competition to be held on October 24th, 2012. The San Diego Robotics Club reserves the right to make changes to these rules during the next two monthly meetings of the club. Forward rule change requests to Changes will be submitted to the club membership and be subject to a majority vote. After the September 2012 meeting, these rules will be finalized and this paragraph will be removed.


The goal of the contest is to design an autonomous robot that will follow a black line on a white background. 

Line following rules


This event is intended to showcase basic sensor design and robot control systems in the form of a small autonomous robot which must follow a black line over a white surface. There will be two different courses. The exact details of the course will not be known before the day of the contest (but will be available before the competition). Sample courses, similar to but not the actual courses will be shown here and will be available for testing and trial runs for one month before the competition.


The playing field shall be a classroom whiteboard approximately 4 by 8 feet. The black line is standard 3/4 inch black electrical tape. Here is a photo of the course that was completed on 15 August 2012.

New Line following course

The course design was based on the following points:

  • Get as much straightaway as possible.
  • Maximize the number of right-hand and left hand turns.
  • Keep all curves as part of the circumference of a fifteen inch diameter circle.

These three things will allow the programmer to optimize the speed of the robot for both straight lines and curves. The belief being that the robot that has the best time around this track has the best engineering design and also the most efficient line-following algorithm to produce the fastest robot.

New Line Following Course


There will be two different events on two different race courses. All participants can choose to compete in one or both events.


This course will consist of straight lines and easy curves. Curves will be at least 5 inches in radius. No lines will cross or be closer than four inches of any other line. Here are some photos of recent line following courses:

Sample course

 line course

Line following rules


This course will consist of straight lines and curves. Turns can be any angle. This is a typical Course Two:

Line following rules


Both courses will be closed. i.e. the line will form a complete path allowing each robot to complete two or more laps around the course.

Line following rules


To encourage creativity, there are no restrictions on the type of hardware or software to be used.

Example Hardware: Arduino Development Board, PIC18Fxxxx Microcontroller, Lego Mindstorms Kit, 8051 series of microcontrollers, 68HC12 or 68HC12 Microprocessor.

Example software: Assembly Language, C, some form of BASIC or Visual Basic

Line following rules


Contestant starting order will be chosen at random. Some point on the course will be designated the 'Start and Finish Line'. When it is your turn, place your robot behind the 'Start' Line, activate it and step back from the playing field. Timing will be by an electronic timer or by a human activated stop watch, depending on the availability of dependable time keeping devices at the time of the contest.

Line following rules 


Robots built from robot construction kits, like 3PI, Lego MindStorms or Meccano, are permitted.


Other than sensors required to follow the black line, nothing may be used to guide or communicate with the robot. No externally-controlled device (i.e., by the operator or another computer or external sensor) that transmits, receives, or reflects any energy, such as acoustic/sonar, microwave, radio wave (HF, RF, UHF, etc.), light, laser, or infrared energy may be used.


There will be a short practice/adjustment time before the event. Competitors must share the line following course with other competitors who wish to practice. 

Line following rules


After your run begins, your robot must not leave the track. The evaluation of what constitutes 'following the line' or 'leavingthe track' will, in some cases, require a judgment call. Judges' decisions are final.


A contestant has 3 minutes to complete the course. This is the maximum amount of time for a robot to complete the course. If hung up, robots may be restarted at the 'Start' (beginning a new time measurement for that run) as many times as necessary within those 3 minutes to complete the course. At the end of the 3 minutes, or the successful completion of the course, the robot shall be removed from the race course.

Winners are determined by the shortest time to complete two laps around any course. In the event no robot finishes, the robot that has gone the farthest wins. In the event of a tie, winner will be determined by a "sudden death" round where the robot travelling the shortest distance or completing the course with the slowest time is eliminated.


Line following rules


Judges will be non-competing members of either the San Diego Robotics Club or other participating schools or organizations. Judges decisions are final.