2017 Contest Information & Rules

For 2016, we focused on the technical side of creating art – the physical transition from raw color to applied color on a canvas. We challenge the participants to create artwork to showcase their robot’s abilities.  For 2017, we invite teams to take creativity in all directions.

Read more about robot art (useful for journalists/press).


  • Foster innovation in AI, image processing, and robotics
  • Challenge students to apply skills in creative ways
  • Integrate aesthetics and technology
  • Encourage participation by the public


  • Team are open to everyone.  Please read about prize payment information below.
  • Each team can submit up to six distinct art works in each of the two categories.
  • Paint/color must be applied with one or more physical brushes by a robotic system.  Work done by an ink-jet-like matrix printer will not qualify.
  • For this year of the contest, we are flexible of what type of robot is used (arm, swarm, drone, roomba, etc)
  • You can use up to 8 different manually premixed colors of your choice during the entire painting process. These colors can be mixed together by the robotic system in an intermediate stage (e.g., on a palette).
  • While existing artwork (e.g., Mona Lisa) can be used as a basis of the final submission, a photo of the existing artwork must be uploaded and referenced.
  • There is no time limit for creating the painting

We reserve the right to make minor adjustments to these rules at anytime in order to preserve the goals of the contest.


1.Original Artwork

This category is for artwork where no specific reference image or material are used.

2.Re-interpreted Artwork

This category is for artwork that is painted using a reference image such as a photo or an image of a famous painting.

3. Pre-existing Artwork

As some artists already have a portfolio of human or robot-created artwork, this category is for any artwork you’d like to post.  Note: if the artwork is done by human hand or printer/plotter, please state this in the title or description.  Pre-existing work is not eligible for prize money.


Each team can submit up to six artwork in each of the two categories. As the contest this year is entirely online, we require teams to upload their artwork and supporting material. For each artwork, the team must upload:

  • photo of final painting
  • several photos (or preferably a video) of painting in process
  • several photos of team & robotic system
  • photo reference of any prior artwork used
  • optional short write up on how it was painted (1-3 pages).  Ideally, you would disclose the technical contributions of your work so that others can learn.
  • optional (encouraged) video of at least part of the painting process
  • optional (encouraged) code repository.  Sharing tools and techniques is key to the growth of robot-involved art.

Note: Teams agree that their artwork can be used for non-commercial promotion of this contest (e.g., journalistic review).  Copyright belongs to the team.


Winners are based on a combination of public (40%) and professional (60%) judges.

For the public, anyone with a Facebook account can vote on their favorite artwork based on:

  • overall originality and aesthetics of artwork (e.g., do you like the painting, impressed with the skill of the “painter”) [100%]

Voters get 5 tokens which they can give to any combination of artworks they choose.  At the end of the competition, we simply add up all the tokens for each team.  This way, you are encouraged to submit as many different types of paintings as possible.

We will have several professional art critics judge the artwork based on:

  • overall originality and aesthetics of artwork (e.g., do you like the painting) [25%]
  • “painterly” ability (e.g., use of layers, energy/subtleness, blending) [50%]
  • technical contribution (e.g., shared source code or algorithms) [25%]

The judges will consider either all the works done by a team… or even a single artwork.  It’s their choice.  Teams are not penalized for having an assortment of different types of paintings (e.g., it’s also ok to upload a few paintings of varied quality to help people show progress.  Just relax!).  We will also factor in how the painting process aligns with the spirit of the contest.  That is, artwork that are created by an articulated robot with a brush and paint will be scored higher than artwork created with plotter-type systems.


The top teams prizes are as follows:

1st – $40,000
2nd – $25,000
3rd – $10,000
4th – $6,000
5th – $4,000
6th through 10th – $2000 each

Top technical contributor (defined by judges and the teams themselves based on the teams ability to share technical skills and software with the community) – $5,000

Since the funding of this contest comes from Andrew Conru’s personal non-profit, the majority of the proceeds must go to a US-based charity or school as follows:

Team from US schools

90% goes to the school, 10% goes to the team members directly (one check).

Team from schools outside US

20% goes to the school, 70% to US-based charity of the team’s choice, 10% goes to the team members directly (one check).

Team unaffiliated with a school

90% goes to a US-based charity of the team’s choice, 10% goes to the team members directly (one check).


Sep 1st – team registration opens

Nov 1st – teams can start uploading artwork (we might open this earlier)

April 1st – team registration deadline (we just want to have an idea on how many teams are competing for press releases/media)

April 15th – deadline for content upload (we strongly encourage you to upload artwork early to give us time to make sure that you have the needed supporting material such as video or docs.  Remember, you need at least a video of the robot in action.  A partial or sped-up video is fine.)

April 18th to May 10th– open to public voting & professional judges

May 15th – winners announces

Why painting?

One of the first signs of human culture was our ability to express ourselves with images. From ancient cave paintings to abstract art, physically generated images have been a universal way for humans to express and communicate. Beyond simply replicating what is seen, artistically created paintings enable meaning in the way it’s created – what elements are left out, how color is used to heighten emotion, even the thickness or boldness of the application of paint has meaning.

The skills required to effectively paint are intrinsically human – graceful movement, sense of touch and pressure, ability to experience color and value.