Zumo Robot Wars Hackathon for Hello Bank

A couple of months ago TrendWolves asked us to organise a 24h Hackathon in the popup store of Hello Bank at the Meir in Antwerp. We came up with the Zumo Robot Wars Hackathon. We would use the Zumo robots of Pololu, because of their easy to use chassis, good documentation and a pretty awesome library. Above all it uses the popular Arduino framework and boards to power and automate the robot.

Hello Bank sponsored a Zumo Robot for every team, which they received on arrival friday. From then we prepared 5 challenges which would help to know their robots better and on completion they receive extra sensors to outfit their little crawler. And finally there would be an awesome sumo battle between all the robots.


ZUMO-RW-HackOur master of design Nicky made an nice poster and matching website for our promotion.

Thanks to fact that we already are a part of the organising team of the Arduino-Jams, we had a nice user group to spread the news. But our goal was also to reach a new group of robot and Arduino enthousiasts.

So, we contacted all the Belgian hackerspaces too because we know they’re always up for a challenge.

While we did the marketing for the Arduino-Jams we already noticed that there are a lot of scattered Arduino users in Belgium.  That is why we started the Arduino Belgium group on Facebook a few years ago.

Another place is the arduino.cc forum where user Jantje, JO3RI started the dutch section. While the forum is mainly used for problem solving we also try to promote Arduino related events in Flanders in the dutch section.

The biggest group of users we always struggle with, are the schools, colleges and universities. Finding the people who teach Arduino in their classes are not that easy to find apparently.

For our mailings Nicky made a nice MailChimp template which we used to invite the people on our mailing list.

For keeping track of subscriptions we used EventBrite which is a great tool for this kind of events. Specially if you organise a free event.

The Concept

teams working

The teams are working hard, to get ready for the big battle.



  1. First invite people with some knowledge of coding and arduino to form Teams
  2. Give them an Zumo robot and Arduino

    Zumo robot on a laptop

    Optimising the line following algorithm

  3. Explain them where to find all the libraries and other useful stuff. Don’t tell them too much they are probably also good in finding it themselves. They are programmers after al
  4. Give them the first challenge: Program the Zumo robot to drive the logo of Arduino, within a box of 1x1m. If the robot ends in the same position as it started you succeed and receive 2 switches
  5. Leave them alone for a couple of hours. Try to help them in case of problems. Suggest new approaches if they find themselves in a dead end. Give them a deadline
  6. Start the Arduino logo challenge
  7. Give them challenge number 2: Your Zumo robot is placed 2 meters from an IR-beacon that pulses an continuous signal. Find the beacon and drive to it. Be aware that you don’t know your starting direction. Also complete this task within 1min. Succeed and receive an IR distance sensor
  8. Repeat step 5
  9. Start the SOS beacon challenge
  10. IMG_0780

    Line following parcour

    Give them challenge number 3: This is a race. The fastest 2 teams will win this challenge. Follow the line as fast as possible. And did we tell you that we went a bit creative with the line, it is a challenge after all. The winners can choose between faster or stronger motors

  11. Repeat step 5
  12. Let them rest a bit, until the sun rises and start with the line following challenge
  13. Give them challenge number 4: Go autonomous from A to B, the straight line is blocked by an obstacle. You get a black line to start from and a black box to stop in. We also give you all the dimensions. Succeed and get an ultrasonic sensor
  14. Repeat step 5
  15. Let them try to solve this one
  16. Give them a challenge that is going to help them in the final battle: Clear the battle platform from all objects without falling from the platform. Succeed and get extra reflectance sensors
  17. Repeat step 5
  18. Let them clean the battle platform
  19. Give them some time to pimp their sumo robots
  20. Have the big battle. Let them cheer and cry, but above all celebrate the process of  hacking, making, pimping and programming their robots in some mean machines who battle till one fought and defeat them all.

Zumo robot outfitted with bump detection, so it could ram the opponent.

Extra dressing

The members of the winning team received an Arduino Yun.