Meet The Winners Of The Hackaday Prize Round Four: Redefine Robots

The judges’ ballots are in and we’re proud to present the ten winners of the fourth round of the 2021 Hackaday Prize. We love robots, and it’s obvious that you do too!  The number and range of projects submitted this year were overwhelming.

No robotics round is complete without a robot arm, and while a few of them were in the finals, we especially liked CM6, which really pulled out all the stops. This is research-grade robotics on a not-quite-student budget, featuring custom compliant mechanisms so that it can play well with its fleshy companions.

With six degrees of freedom, and six motors, the drivetrain budget can quickly get out of hand on builds like these, so we’re especially happy to see custom, open, brushless-motor driver boards used to reduce the cost of admission. Even if you’re not going to make a 100% faithful CM6 clone, you’ll learn a lot just from going through the build. Oh, and did we mention it has a software stack? Continue reading “Meet The Winners Of The Hackaday Prize Round Four: Redefine Robots”

Final Weekend Of Robots In The Hackaday Prize

This is the final weekend to enter your robot project in the 2021 Hackaday Prize.

The Redefine Robots challenge is looking to you for great ideas in making robots part of modern life. For too long, it’s been the vision of what these machines will look like in the future. But what should they look like right now? Sure, that might be C-3PO, but isn’t it more likely that your robot assistant lives on a smart watch, or that labor saving droid helps by passing the butter when limited mobility makes that a challenge for someone. Where are the everyday things that would be better with just a bit of clever technology?

This robot holds the flashlight , following your hands as you work.

Part of the challenge here is breaking out of that mold developed from decades of seeing robots that tend to take just a few forms; something with four wheels and a camera or bots designed to mimic the human body. One great example of rethinking these stereotypes is [Harry Gao’s] task lighting robot. It uses machine learning to look for your hands on a work surface and move a bright light to make sure you can always see what you’re doing.

Of course movement isn’t a prerequisite, if you want to think of this as a smart automation challenge. The best robots from science fiction are remembered because of their interaction with people — machines with personality. There’s certainly a place in our world for companion robots that keep you company like this entry called Stack-chan. It’s not a replacement for human interaction, but a complement to the way we communicate with each other and the world around us.

You still have time to get in on this round if you make this weekend your own personal hackathon. Ten entries will be selected to receive a $500 prize and move on to the final round at the end of October. Next week we’ll begin the final, wildcard round as we head into the fall and eventually award $25,000 for the top prize!

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.