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SparkFun AVC 2017 at Maker Faire Denver: October 14–15

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Scheduled Competitions

Autonomous Vehicle Divisions

Autonomous Car Wars

It’s the new age of transportation, and you don’t drive so much anymore; you’re just a leaf in the wind. Your job is to create a vehicle that will transport you safely to your working destination without accident and without any input from you. Armed only with a Nerf gun and a Grande Latte, can you get there in time? You’ve got a big presentation this morning.

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Speed Demons

Competing vehicles will be expected to complete a course littered with obstacles within a set time frame without human interaction. The track is a figure-8 layout with a major axis length of approximately 178 feet and a minor axis of approximately 78 feet.

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Logistics Class

While Google, Tesla and Uber are getting all the news coverage for driverless passenger vehicles, companies like Daimler have been building autonomous and semi-autonomous freight trucks for transporting cargo. The Logistics Class attempts to mimic the engineering hurdles seen in the in-warehouse transportation of goods as well as self-driving freight vehicles.

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Combat Bot Divisions

It's robot fighting time! This will be our third year running Combat Robots. To keep things easy we are continuing to follow the rules set forth by the SPARC organization.

Hobbyweight (under 12 lbs) & Featherweight (under 30 lbs)

These weight classes constitute the largest fighting robot competition in the Rocky Mountain region. Both weight classes will be competing in a newly refurbished 16’x16’ arena.

Beetleweight (under 3 lbs)

Our classic beetleweight bot competition will be coming back this year to fight in a new 8’x8’ arena.

Antweight (under 1 lb) & Plastic Ants (plastic bots under 1 lb)

These small robots will fight each other in the old SparkFun 6’x6’ arena. The Plastic Ant division is primarily designed for K–12 student teams who will rely on 3D-printed and mostly plastic components for their builds. Plastic Ant rules can be found here.

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Schedule of Events

Friday, October 13: Course Preview Day

Like every other SparkFun AVC, the autonomous vehicle courses will be open for competitors to test out their vehicles the Friday before the event. We will release the hours the course will be open to preview closer to the date of competition.

We will also make competitor check-in available to all teams on Friday to speed up the check-in processes on Saturday and Sunday mornings.

Saturday, October 14: Competition Day 1

All competitors (both combat bots and autonomous vehicle divisions) will only need to be present on one of the two days to compete. Heats will be scheduled so that each competitor only needs to be present on Saturday OR Sunday to fully participate in the event. All combat bots competitors will need to be present on both Saturday and Sunday, and some competitors may need to be present on Friday to complete the registration and inspection process early.

Depending on the number of competitors registered, we may be able to reserve time on Saturday for the autonomous vehicle course to be open to Sunday competitors for preview, but no guarantees.

Sunday, October 15: Competition Day 2

Depending on the number of Sunday competitors, all competition divisions will be run identically to Saturday. Winners will be announced on site at the end of competition on Sunday, as well as on SparkFun’s social media channels.

Scheduling Process

In late August, registered competitors will be contacted to submit their requested day of competition. Unlike in previous years, registration for the autonomous divisions will not close prior to the day of competition, but after September 1, 2017, registrants will forfeit their option to choose their day of competition. Refunds will not be available after September 15, 2017.

Saturday competitors wishing to run their vehicles again on Sunday may be scheduled in the heats as time allows (at the discretion of the race managers), but only their Saturday score will count. Sunday competitors may only run their vehicles on Sunday.

The weather conditions may be different on either day. The combat bot competitions will be indoors, but the autonomous competitions will be outdoors. The competitions will still take place in rain or snow and will only be shut down in the case of lightning or severe weather. We ask all competitors to be prepared for inclement conditions (this is Colorado, after all).


Prizes will be distributed either in person or via mail, and all competitors from both Saturday and Sunday are competing against each other (in other words, there are no Saturday winners and Sunday winners) until further notice. SparkFun reserves the right to decide to split Saturday competitors and Sunday competitors and offer the same prizes for separate days.

SparkFun will be returning to its roots with special awards, and in the event that there will be cash prizes for each division, they will be announced over the next few months in advance of the competition.

Registration Fees & Process

Each robot or vehicle registration will cost $35. Unlike in previous years, we only ask for the name of the team captain at the time of registration. When we send out our scheduling survey in late August to all team captains, we will ask for the names of all team members. The SparkFun AVC 2017 bot and vehicle registration fee includes parking and a ticket to Denver Maker Faire for all registered team members.

Waivers & Safety

Every team member must sign a waiver. For team members under the age of 18, a waiver must be signed by a parent. Waivers will be signed on site the day of competition, and waivers can be obtained in advance by emailing

There are no age limits for any of the competitions except Autonomous Car Wars. Vehicle riders can be any age, but if they are under the age of 18, they must have a parent or guardian present and must submit a letter of permission to prior to the day of competition.

Student Teams

Any team where two-thirds of the team members are students (K–12 or undergraduate) constitutes a student team. Each student team must be affiliated with a K–12 school or institute of higher education. Student teams will be eligible for separate prizes than adult competitors. All students under the age of 18 must have a parent sign a waiver in advance of the competition.

AVC Blog Posts

More info on the biggest bots in the west and the new plastic ants division

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Rules updates, scheduling information, and some questions answered

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Have Questions?

Technical Questions

Engineers are answering technical questions on our AVC forum. Sign-in required.

Event Questions

Scheduling, logistics and any other event-related questions can be directed to

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