Redefine Robots Is The Newest Hackaday Prize Challenge

Roboticists and automation enthusiasts, start your engines. This 2021 Hackaday Prize challenge is made just for you! It’s the Redefine Robots challenge and it calls for a softer, more utopian side of what tomorrow’s automated future can be.

The promise of robots has always been one of making our lives better. But so far we still don’t have a robot assistant sitting next to us ready to lend a hand. That’s where you come in! Whether it’s a physical, nuts-and-bots robot or a 1’s and 0’s software bot, create something that people can see and interact with in their day-to-day lives in ways that make sense and make us feel good about where technology is going.

We make fun of the robot that’s been brought into the world to pass the butter, but honestly if that’s something someone needs help with, isn’t a robot a pretty good solution? That’s what [Michael Roybal] thought way back during the 2016 Hackaday Prize when he designed Zizzy the robot to zip around a tabletop, assisting people with limited mobility.

In the same year, [Mike Rigsby] was working on a little bot whose purpose was to wander around interacting with people. A robot companion (dare we say pet?) is one way to keep up interactivity for people spending long periods of time alone. Along the same lines is the EMOJO chatbot already entered in this year’s contest that seeks to deliver a digital companion onscreen.

Assistive robots aren’t the only ones to shine here. Consider some labor savers, like pick-and-place robots that help you build electronics. Does that reinvent robots? Maybe, maybe not, but getting a 3D printer to do your solder for you sure does. Think of how revolutionary robot vacuums were for people who own both hardwood floors and cats. Those bots are around humans all the time and seem normal now. What’s next automation to get this introduction into everyday life?

Ten finalists from this round will win $500 and be shuttled onto the final round judging in October for a chance at the $25,000 Hackaday Prize and four other top prizes. Start your project page on and use the drop-down in the left sidebar to enter it into the 2021 Hackaday Prize.

5 thoughts on “Redefine Robots Is The Newest Hackaday Prize Challenge

  1. Hmmmmm …. Maybe this is the push I’ve needed to finally post the “robot” I built to sort certain types of coins. It was crude and was the first electronics projects I ever attempted as a complete Arduino noob, but it worked. And Elliot DID say in a comment once, “I’d love to see that project”. :-)

  2. I’ve never had time to try this idea but would love to see someone implement it: A robot vacuum cleaner based on a multi-legged robot instead of a wheeled one. There are home spaces that are too cluttered or have cables laying on the floor that a wheeled robot can not navigate. A robot with legs (4, 6, 8) could step over and around obstacles to better direct a vacuum cleaner nozzle for cleanup. You could start with one of the small open source walking robots already available (Petoi Bittle Robot Dog, Xiaomi CyberDog, openDog, KiE, Fenrir, SpotMicro, OpenKat and others) to simplify the work. The main problems to be solved would be navigation, and aiming the vacuum cleaner nozzle to get good coverage.

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