LVL1 Sumo-Bot

Hello everyone,

At the Louisville Mini-Makerfaire, we had the opportunity to meet some folks from LVL1 (Louisville’s Makerspace) and see their new space!

Every year they host a sumo bot competition. This year it is on Saturday, November 1.

A sumo bot is a tiny (can fit in the palm of your hand) autonomous robot that is placed in a ring with another sumo bot. One bot must push the other bot out of the ring to win.

I think that this is a wonderful opportunity to network with another maker space that is fairly close and meet some awesome people just like us! This is a small project that can realistically be completed in a month and apparently they should cost under $100 from scratch.

After some research, I am proposing a $100 budget for a hive sumo bot to be voted on in the next meeting, October 7.

I know nothing about sumo bots or making one, but I really want to participate in this! If anyone is interested or has previous experience, please post here (even if you can’t attend on that date) and we can start organizing something!

About 5 years ago we held a sumo bot competition tat the hive, and a LVL1 team came up and participated. (They actually won!) They were excited at the prospect that we might be there this year!

  • Elly

TL:DR - LVL1 is hosting a sumo bot competition on Nov. 1. We should participate and in the process build a hive themed bot that we can also show at other events. Proposing a vote next meeting for a $100 budget.

Cross-space competition is great, and $100 sounds reasonable! I have a few questions/comments…

  1. Do we know which weight class(es) they are running?
  2. Is the plan to buy a kit, or make an original design?
  3. I have some extra hobby robot parts that may be useful. Count me in the “interested” group.


I would be interested and may be able to provide some of my own components (I've got to read the rules first)

It sounds like a lot of fun! I'm definitely in support of this!

In looking a bit further I noticed that all classes below 3kg must be autonomous and 3kg can be driven by remote.

Do we know what sizes are being run there?

Paul Vincent played a major role in creating Hive13’s last “official” sumobot (“Mr. Plow”, I believe?), when we hosted our own competition a few years ago in the boxing gym downstairs. Myself and several others also created individual sumobots. I believe there were several members of LVL1 that came up.

LVL1 looks to be following the national competition guidelines (good idea), found here: . All the competitions I’ve heard of from LVL1, and our own, were in the “mini” class, 10cm square and no more than 500g. If anyone is interested to go bigger would be good idea to contact LVL1 and see if they are interested to field a competitor. Or maybe just build it and issue the challenge for next time?

My primary involvement in the last sumobot competition was building & painting the sumo bot ring. (I believe it is still sitting under one of the workbenches @ the hive).

Craig did most of the work on Mr. Plow. We tried to print the frame on the makerbot and it had some major issues w/ warping which led to Mr. Plow having a preference to driving in circles. Also, we ran out of time programming the bot and while the ground based “line” sensors worked, the two distance “Steering” sensors did not. We ended up running the bot partially blind.

We did fairly well considering the bot had no distance sensors, just because the bot had a lot of traction and if it did run into another bot, it would slowly but surely shove them out of the ring.

2010 Sumobot competition:

Mr. Plow project page:

Mr. Plow in all his glory:
Old sumobot competition planning page on the wiki:
Flickr Album from Mr. Plow design & SumoBot ring building:

Brian Wagner here lurking from LVL1. I am the one running the Sumo competition. It is a mini sumo competition so the bot has to fit in a 10cmX10cm square and weight <500g making your sumo weigh close to 500g is really important since this is a pushing match. The ring we use is a wooden disk painted with flat black and a gloss white ring so it is easy to build and test your bot and line sensors. These sensors work well In fact I tend to test mine on a piece of black posterboard with white tape. You will want to make sure to have the ability to reprogram your bot in case your sensors do not work on the official board. I make it a double elimination tournament so you are not out if you loose one match.

I have a wiki page set up that includes the tourney poster and some links to kits that are easily obtained and built. The zumo kit is very nice and it is arduino compatable. The paralax kit seems to win a lot.

Good luck and hope to see you!


I remember Mr. Plow from the cover of Citybeat. Is he still around or was he impounded for plotting the downfall of corporations?

It has been a while, but I believe he is still around. I seem to recall him being housed in a small brown cardboard box. I believe cardboard boxes are the standard anti-corporate downfall shielding material. That and tin foil. We didn’t use tinfoil. damn it.

I know where the sumobot box is. I will pull it down tonight to see what is in it.

If someone wants to take on the hardware/physical design I would be willing to do the AI and other code for it.

Awesome response everyone. Thank you for the details, Brian from LVL1!

Just a note to reiterate from previous comments, that we have access to many parts (and a mildly functional sumo bot at the space, woo!). The budget proposed initially ($100) is an absolute maximum, because it is the generic price to build one from the ground up. I do not anticipate it being this much, especially with the parts we have already/will be donated to the project.

For anyone who is interested, I’d love to quickly meet after the Tuesday meeting next week to discuss some stuff and get the ball rolling. We can figure out some basic details, like what parts we have, what we might need to buy, who is interested in which aspects, etc. Finer details can be dealt with after the quick meeting.

Jon, we talked about this, but I wouldn’t mind much. Since it’s mostly just wheels… shouldn’t be too bad. I don’t have to worry about getting smash to pieces this time…

Are you guys down working on sumos this weekend?