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Artificial Intelligence and Robotics Challenge



We all like to see robots act in the real world. However, a study programme is necessarily quite theoretical, especially in the first years. Students therefore sometimes indicate that they would like to see AI in practice, and work with real robots. If you are a student in the CS or DSAI bachelor programmes at Leiden University, and you recognize the above, then join the Artificial Intelligence & Robotics (AIR) challenge!

In this full-year, extra-curricular course, you work on a real-world robotics challenge in groups of 4-6 students. During the year, you develop AI software to make your robot as strong as possible for the competition. At the end of the year there is a public event (accessible for all students and teachers) where you compete for the award. The challenge varies per year, but may for example involve Hide & Seek ('Verstoppertje'), Tag ('Tikkertje'), Football ('Voetbal'), etc. Participation in the projects counts as 2 extra-curricular ECTS (appear on your diploma, but only as extra credits).

Eligible students: All bachelor students from the LIACS CS and DSAI bachelor programmes, who passed the first year courses Introduction to Programming and Algorithmics, and have at most two remaining failed first year courses.

Number of teams: 4-6
Team size: 4-6
Credits: 2 ECTS (extra-curricular) with a pass/fail grade.

Course Objectives

  • Robotics: Learn to work with a physical robot, which can compete in a real-world challenge.

  • Artificial Intelligence: Choose/develop and implement relevant AI algorithms to make a robot compete in a real-world challenge.

  • Software: Manage a shared larger codebase, where you integrate AI algorithms, low-level robot instructions, etc.

  • Teamwork: Work together in a group of 4-6 students in a long-range project.


The course runs over the full academic year.

  • September: Registration

  • October-May: Competition

  • May: Finals event

The challenge will feature monthly events to keep in touch and learn from eachother.
Events are hosted in the late afternoon of the second tuesday of the month.

The Robotics Lab (Snellius 404) is available throughout the entire year to work on the project with your team.

Mode of Instruction

Introduction lecture: There will be a starting lecture about the project and the robots.

Self-management: Afterwards, there is a strong emphasis on self-managed student groups. Teachers are available for advice, but in principle you should self-manage your team, debug your own code, find out yourself how the robot works, etc. (The approach is similar to the 'student teams' that are often present at technical universities.)

Repair: When a robot breaks, all groups together are responsible to repair it. You can get technical support from the supplier. Of course, when you find out you need a replacement part, we can help you order it.

Communication: We use a Discord Channel to allow communication between students and with the teachers.

Documentation: We use a Github Wiki where you can keep shared documentation about robot hardware and software that is useful to other groups (also for future years).

Assessment method

The course has a PASS/FAIL grade. To pass you need to:

  • Participate in the final event.

  • Have put measurable effort into the project as a group, in the form of a codebase and a robot that shows some kind of adaptive behaviour.

  • Have put measurable effort as an individual into the final product of your group.

Reading List

Not applicable


You can join the challenge if you meet the following criteria:

  • You are a student in a LIACS bachelor programme (either the CS or DSAI programme).

  • You have at most two remaining failed first year courses.

  • You have passed the first year courses Introduction to Programming and Algorithmics.

Finding team members

  • You need to sign up as a group of 4-6 students.

  • To find additional team members, you can find information on the course website (link below).

  • Registration will open during September.

  • In your application email (to Thomas Moerland, see Lecturers for email), include: o All your names, student numbers and email addresses. o A one-page application letter, where you describe 1) your motivation as a team, and 2) your skill set as a team (what experience have your team members got, and what do they want to contribute).


  • There is place for 6 student teams in total.

  • When there are to many applications, selections will be made based on your motivation letter.

  • Decisions are communicated in the first week of October.


See the website of the challenge