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. Robots of choice: 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). Nextly, we prepared 5 challenges to help get to know their robots better. Upon completion, they received extra sensors to upgrade their little crawler. Lastly, an awesome sumo battle was held between all the robots.


ZUMO-RW-HackOur master of design Nicky designed a 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 or netwerk to spread the news. However, our goal was 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.

During the marketing campaigns 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 forum where user Jantje, JO3RI started the Dutch section. While this forum is mainly used for problem solving, we also try to promote Arduino related events in Flanders (the Dutch speaking part of Belgium).

The biggest group of users we have trouble with reaching, are the schools, colleges and universities. Finding the people who teach Arduino in their classes is not that easy, apparently.

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

To keep track of subscriptions, we used EventBrite which is a great tool for this kind of events. Especially if you organise a free event.

The Concept

teams working

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



  1. Firstly, 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 all...
  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, it means the team has succeed and receives 2 switches.
  5. Leave the teams 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. Complete this task within 1 minute. Succeed and the team receives 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: it's a race! The 2 fastest teams 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 may 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 off 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. Start the 'big battle'. Let them cheer and cry, but above all celebrate the process of  hacking, creating, pimping and programming their robots into some mean machines who battle till one fights and defeats 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.

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