ARM has just launched a new robotics competition on “The Autonomous Robot Challenge”. Registration is now open and entries will close on Sept 30 but if you get in early you might receive free hardware to help you build, like a DonkeyCar kit. The deadline to apply for free devices is July 21. Winners will be announced in October and prizes will be given for “Best Use of AI”, “Most Creative Project”, “Greatest Social Impact”, “Best DonkeyCar Project” and “Most Fun Social Media Video.” All the details are below.

Arm_logo_blue_150LG.png CONTEST BRIEF:

Join us in an exciting new challenge and build an autonomous machine to push the limits of what low-cost, open-source hardware and deep learning on the edge can do for humanity. We are excited by the potential of drones (flying, rolling and swimming) to help us in our daily lives, delivering food and medicines to those in need, helping in agriculture, responding to emergencies and much more. As a result, we want to see what you (our community) can dream up using advanced hardware kits, sensors, computer vision, and deep learning based on Arm technologies.


In this contest, we want you to design the next innovative machine using your choice of some of Arm’s favourite technologies:

  • A drone, rover, underwater ROV or vehicle of your own making

Early applicants will be eligible to receive one of the 50 4-wheeled DonkeyCars Arm have provided which we will be distributing to developers who submit compelling proposals around how these small wheeled robots can be used for good. We are also inviting developers to use drones, rovers, robots, underwater ROVs of their own creation.

Your machine needs to be able to achieve at least one of the following tasks:

  • Autonomously transport a package in an urban, rural or underwater environment
  • Autonomously assist in a real-world scenario

Can you deliver medicine, food, aid to those in need? We imagine a world in which drones of various kinds will be assisting humans and help humanity address some of the world’s greatest challenges. What do you imagine? Bonus points will be given for real use cases in your local environment.

We are giving away thousands of dollars to ten lucky grand prize winners in the form of robots and other cool objects! Our judges at Arm are going to pick the ten best qualifying projects based on the judging criteria outlined in the rules section.

You also have a chance to win a GoPro HERO 6 if you post a fun and entertaining video on social media with the hashtag #ArmRobotChallenge!

We have a few bonus challenges (for bonus points during judging!) for you to consider:

AI on the Edge

  • Does your machine use the latest frameworks released by Arm to enable deep learning on Arm processors?
  • Does it make the best use of the MCUs on board? Is it capable to use the Cortex-M processors for inference?


  • Does your solution help people to live more healthy, sustainable and peaceful lives?
  • Solar Power/Charging does your robot take advantage of renewable energies. Does it park in the sun to recharge?
  • Does your solution help to conserve energy?


  • Able to create a map of an unknown environment and use it to navigate?
  • Mapping disaster zones to help first aid / deliver supplies – maybe your DonkeyCar delivers emergency supplies, or your homemade robot maps lava flows to identify open escape routes?

What are the submission requirements? Your project should make use of autonomous vehicle or drone technology based on Arm and follow the theme of this contest (autonomous bots). Please allow at least one week for your submission to be moderated by our team.

Want help getting started? There are major communities in support of all the devices required for this contest. Example projects on getting started with a Raspberry Pi can be found here, and make sure to search Hackster’s project hub to find tutorials on more complicated topics (computer vision, deep machine learning,etc.). The DIY Robocars community has also created some great projects that you can access from here.

Want to get started with artificial intelligence on the edge?

  • Use the software development kit released by Arm. Arm NN bridges the gap between existing NN frameworks and the underlying IP. It enables efficient translation of existing neural network frameworks, such as TensorFlow and Caffe, allowing them to run efficiently – without modification – across Arm Cortex CPUs and Arm Mali GPUs.
  • Use Compute Library to develop AI applications on Cortex-A processors and GPUs, taking advantage of highly optimized libraries that will boost the performance of your robot.
  • Use the CMSIS-NN kernels or uTensor framework to implement inference on your Arm Cortex-M processors.

Want to submit as a team? Go for it! You’re welcome to divide and conquer with a team of up to 5 members. But remember, one prize per team.

The Arm team and other participants are accessible for help and questions as well via the contest discussion forum.

Good luck and happy building!