SparkFun to host ninth annual Autonomous Vehicle Competition and combat robots at Denver Maker Faire

World's largest self–driving vehicle competition for makers to prove advanced technology is within reach

DENVER, CO—(Marketwired – April 14, 2017) – SparkFun Electronics will be hosting this year's Autonomous Vehicle Competition (AVC 2017) at the Denver Maker Faire on October 14–15. The event will include the Classic AVC ground course, now in its ninth year of competition, as well as the return of the wildly popular, arena–fighting combat robots.

As the self–driving car industry begins road–testing their vehicles, AVC 2017 competitors will be asked to solve for autonomous freight, semi–autonomous technology and unpredictable road hazards in their builds. The Classic AVC ground course will build off the design of previous years to include challenges that require competitors to find maker solutions to industry–level problems. For the first time in the event's history, the Classic AVC ground course will also include an opportunity for vehicles to carry human passengers.

The combat robot event features weapons–enabled bots fighting each other in a bracket–style competition. Winners are declared via a points system at the end of the three–minute matches, or when a robot becomes incapacitated and can no longer fight. This will be the first time 12lb (hobby weight) and 30lb (feather weight) combat robots will compete in the Rocky Mountain region. In addition to the larger weight classes, a new “Plastic Ants” division will open up opportunities for beginners and students to join the competition. The 1lb Plastic Ants division requires each robot to be built almost entirely from plastic components, with an emphasis on 3D printing. The competition will include three arenas for all five weight classes, including 1lb, 3lb, 12lb and 30lb robots.

The maker movement's expanding role in the greater hardware and electronics industries increases access for the individual hobbyist to complex technology that can be used to find innovative solutions to everyday challenges.

“We do everything we can to share the tools of innovation with the world, rather than keeping them behind closed doors,” said SparkFun CEO Glenn Samala. “We believe that when all people can access information, they generate new ideas, start meaningful projects and make incredible advancements in society. The creativity of many far exceeds what can be done in a vacuum.”

As the world of pro–makers and hardware entrepreneurs matures, events like SparkFun's Autonomous Vehicle Competition continue to provide space for advanced makers and builders to prove that commercial–level innovation is within reach for tinkerers who envision imaginative and unconventional applications of the technology.

The competition began as a bet in 2008 between SparkFun founder Nathan Seidle and the company's Director of Engineering, Pete Dokter. Seidle claimed that Dokter couldn't build a robot that could circumnavigate the SparkFun building autonomously. The bet was widely discussed on SparkFun's blog, and on the date of the challenge other members of the maker community brought their own robots to join in. Since then, the event has grown to include more than 250 competitors from all over the world. In 2014, a full–size Jeep Wagoneer made history by autonomously navigating the course.

AVC 2017 will span three days to include a course preview day for all competitors and two full days of competition for makers and students to showcase their vehicles and robots. Competitor registration will open and full competition rules for AVC 2017 will be posted May 1 at

About SparkFun Electronics (
Founded in 2003, SparkFun shares its passion by providing parts, knowledge and innovation for those looking to explore the world of embedded electronics. The company helps hobbyists, students and professionals discover their inner inventor and create their own electronics projects. SparkFun currently offers more than 2,100 products, ranging from simple components like capacitors and resistors to GPS units, Bluetooth modules and comprehensive inventor kits. Additionally, SparkFun has developed nearly 400 tutorials to inspire and support people of all ages and skill levels in their exploration of electronics.

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