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Vorpal Hexapod Activity: Obstacle Course

From Vorpal Robotics Wiki

This is similar to the basic straight race, but some extra challenges are presented to contestants in the form of obstacles.

Required Items

  • A straight piece of floor about 10 feet (3 meters) long and 2 to 3 feet (0.6 to 0.9 meters) wide.
  • Tape to mark start and finish lines
  • Some way of marking out of bounds lines. This could be tape on the floor, a bunch of yardsticks (metersticks), a wall on one side if possible, or some other means. If there is no actual barrier but just tape on the floor, contestants who step out of bounds should incur a time penalty of 10 seconds per violation.
  • A bunch of obstacles. Objects that are 1 to 2 inches tall work well. Examples: erasers, books, blocks of wood, rulers or yardsticks (metersticks). Objects should not be too tall. You may want to place a time limit on each race. For a ten foot race with moderately difficult obstacles, 2 minutes would be a reasonable time limit.
  • A timer of some kind, such as a stopwatch or a timer app on a smartphone or tablet computer.
  • Some way of keeping track of team times, such as pencil and paper, whiteboard, etc.

Vorpal Hexapod Quick Links:

Activity Procedure

  • Set up the race area, marking start and end lines, barriers or marks for out of bounds on either side. The area should be about 10 feet (3 meters) from start to finish and fairly narrow (2 to 3 feet maximum) so contestants are forced to deal with obstacles.
  • For fairness, the initial location of all obstacles should be noted and the field reset to that configuration before each contest (since obstacles may get moved around if they are not fixed to the floor).
  • If out of bounds areas are not physically blocked by a wall but rather just marked by tape or something low like yardsticks (metersticks), contestants who step out of bounds will incur a 10 second penalty for each second they are out of bounds.


  • Make sure contestants do not stall servo motors for long periods of time. If a hexapod gets hopelessly stuck, end that race rather than risk damaging the robot. A fair way to handle this is for the referee to warn the contestant not to stall the motors, and if the contestant is unable to extract themselves, the clock is stopped, the robot is untangled from the obstacle, then the obstacle race continues.
  • High step walking mode may help you get over obstacles.


  • You could use duct tape to fix each obstacle to the floor, this will cause additional challenges since objects cannot be pushed out of the way.