If building a BattleBot is a little too violent for your tastes, a new robot-building challenge may just give you a more civil outlet for your constructive impulses. The company that produces the Roomba floor-cleaning robot, iRobot, has teamed up with Tom’s Hardware Guide and Instructables to sponsor a contest, beginning Wednesday, which challenges builders to build their own open-ended creations for a $5,000 prize.
Contestants must use the iRobot Create kit to build their entries, but they can perform absolutely any function. Robots will be judged on task complexity, aesthetics, intelligence, usefulness, entertainment value, and other criteria. Between May 16 and August 31, builders can submit photos and descriptions of their robots through the Instructables Web site. After judging, a winner will be announced on or before October 1.
“Robots spark the creative juices of people with a wide variety of interests because we all have dull, dirty or dangerous tasks that we would rather delegate to a robot,” said Helen Greiner, co-founder and chairman of iRobot, in a statement. “The iRobot Create Challenge gives aspiring roboticists the chance to build the robot of their dreams.”
Since the basic Create robot runs $129.99 and the “premium development package” is a cool $299.99, iRobot is also offering free scholarship packages for those who can’t afford to buy their own hardware. There will only be 15 available, so interested builders will have to submit a proposal for how they would use the kit to snag one, and commit to building with the kit if they win it.