SparkFun's Second Annual Autonomous Vehicle Competition A Roaring Success


BOULDER, Colo. April 22, 2010 – On April 17th, 2010, Boulder-based SparkFun Electronics hosted the second annual SparkFun Autonomous Vehicle Competition. The event, designed to help foster innovation in the field of DIY electronics, attracted 20 teams and approximately 400 spectators, despite intermittent rain throughout the day.


The goal of the event was for competitors to design a ground or aerial vehicle that could navigate around the SparkFun office building on it’s own without human interference – thus providing the name “Autonomous Vehicle Competition.” Many vehicles attempted the course, but only eight completely finished. Vehicles ranged in design from a 50 pound converted electric wheelchair to a 1:32 scale RC car.

“I was genuinely amazed at the quality of the competitors this year,” SparkFun engineer Ryan Owens said. “Last year’s event was good, but this year’s blew it out of the water. I imagine next year will be even better. As technology gets better, and our competitors learn more, times are going to drop and more teams are going to finish. Each year, this event is going to get more competitive – it’s good for the event and it’s good for DIY electronics.”

Ultimately, Team Tobor (that’s “robot” spelled backwards) took home 1st place in the ground category with a time of 1 minute and 55 seconds. Team Robota garnered 1st place with an aerial vehicle, with a logic-defying time of -4 seconds (actual lap time of 26 seconds with a 30 second time deduction for an accurate autonomous landing). Only one team, AutoCrusher, managed to finish the course completely on all three attempts.

In addition to medals for placing 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, there were also awards given for Engineer’s Choice (best engineering design work), Best Dressed (most aesthetically pleasing robot), Rookie Award (best showing by a first time competitor), and Kill Switch Award (given to the robot that required quick use of its kill switch).

Next year’s race is already in the works and the event’s date will be announced at a later time.

About SparkFun Electronics


SparkFun is a young and quickly growing company dedicated to enabling the electronics enthusiast with gear and resources. SparkFun was named the second fastest growing company in Boulder County by the Boulder County Business Report in 2008. For examples of how customers have used SparkFun products and services in the past, visit Hack-a-Day’s website or WIRED magazine’s article suggesting how SparkFun and SparkFun’s Batch PCB service fit into the Open Source Hardware movement. For insight on Nathan Seidle and the philosophy behind SparkFun, read this article from the February issue of Fortune Small Business.


For more information call AnnDrea Boe at 303-284-0979 extension 123, or email AnnDrea Boe at

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To download a PDF version of the press release, please click here.