Sep 19 – 21, 2016
ESS - Lund - Sweden
Europe/Stockholm timezone

The DENIM challenge

The best engineering comes about through an exchange of ideas, teamwork and rising to the challenge, and this year's DENIM conference will give it' community an opportunity to do just that, in a light hearted fashion in the form of the Great DENIM Challenge!

To set thing straight from the start - the purpose of the challenge is not to win, it is the pleasure of taking part and creating something together!

This is NOT WORK! Yes do your best, Yes do represent your facility and do show what you can do, but have fun and do NOT take it (too) seriously!

This years challenge is to build an autononomous vehicle able to navigate it's way through a maze-like course as fast as possible. At the end of the course the vehicle should preform something entertaining.

The guiding principals

We seriously believe that there is the value of friendly competition in bringing people together and fostering collaboration.

In this light we propose a few of guiding principals behind this year's challenge. We hope, if the community feels it is useful, these guidelines will form the basis of challenges to come.

  • Winning is not the point, it's the pleasure of taking part with others that is the greatest prize!
  • Good engineering can and should be fun.
  • Working together we can achieve great feats. Challenges should span a wide range of technical areas of competence - mech / elec / software / theory / manual skills
  • Engineering is all about getting 'Hands on'.
  • Team work and communication are essential to success.
  • Youth is the future. Younger engineers should be encouraged to participate and take the lead, but seniors should not be left out.
  • The material outlay to participate should be negligible. The basis kit should be universally available to a planet wide community.
  • Time is of the essence. We all have to work and a life, as such the total preparation required to participate, should not be more than about 80 hours across the whole team.
  • This is not work! So forget neutron relevance and have fun!

Team set up and rules

  • Teams must be based at and represent, an engineering or support group(s) at a scientific research facilities or supporting facilities, connected to the neutron scattering community.
  • A maximum of two teams will be admitted per facility.
  • All activities relating to the design and construction or presentation during the challenge shall be conducted by members of the team - without external support.
  • The combined age of all member in a team shall be no greater than 120 years (at the time of the DENIM conference).
  • The team composition should remain constant during the challenge.
  • Teams shall be led by the youngest team member.

Sign up

If you have a team that would like to participate in the DENIM challenge, don't hessitate to sign up. Simply send an email to marked 'Challenge signup' with your team name and information.


The team is responsible for transporting the vehicle to the DENIM conference.


The objective of this year's challenge is to design and build an autonomous vehicle to compete in two separate challenges during the DENIM conference.

Challenge 1 will require the vehicle to autonomously navigate across a simple pre-established course in the shortest time possible. The team completing the course in the shortest time wins. Once the vehicle crosses the finish-line it should do an entertaining manoeuvre (spinning, shooting fireworks, only the imagination sets the limit).

Challenge 2 is optional and will be a surprise revealed at the completion of Challenge 1.


All entries shall be constructed principally of components from the base kit.

The base kit

In the objective of opening the challenge to the greatest part of the community, and at the same time reducing the cost of competing, it has been decided to impose a base kit of components for all entries.

The base kit for all entries has been defined as the LEGO® MINDSTORMS® EV3 base kit.

Base kit

This kit is freely available at reasonable cost from all good toy stores or on It contains all the basic components and software tools required for the construction and programming of simple autonomous devices including motors, sensors and controllers.

Design rules

  • Entries, ready to compete, shall have weight no greater than 2.5kg (batteries included).
  • All entries, as presented to compete, shall be composed of 75% or greater base kit components by weight.
  • All structural components shall be sourced from the base kit, this includes chassi components and wheels/tracks.
  • The LEGO® MINDSTORMS® EV3 control unit shall be attached on the robot.
  • All control software shall be done by the LEGO® MINDSTORMS® EV3 control unit.
  • Alternative components from other sources, may be fitted. Electronic components still have to be controlled by the LEGO® MINDSTORMS® EV3 control unit.
  • The name of the team and the facility represented shall be indicated on two surfaces 100mm x 75mm.
  • The total value of materials added to the robot in excess of the obligatory material shall not exceed 90€/100USD.

Order of competition

The robot will be placed on the starting line. The clock starts when the vehicle starts to move. After the start, no more interference is allowed. The vehicle shall not be remote controlled.

The course will be built with wood and plastic materials with a track width between 20 and 50cm wide. Turns are between 1 and 90 degrees with a minium radius of 10cm. The side panels of the course is at least 15cm high and continuous. The surface of the course will be flat and smooth.

The robot shall run autonomously with no human interference during the race.

The finish line will be made up of 10mm of red plastic tape stretching the full width of the course.