Department of Physics

Mini-sumo robots go head-to-head at UNI


Cliff Chancey, department head and professor, UNI Department of Physics, 319-273-2425,

Dale Olson, professor, physics, 319-215-5501,

Lindsay Cunningham, Office of University Relations, 319-273-6728,


CEDAR FALLS, Iowa -- The University of Northern Iowa will host the eighth annual Mini-Sumo Robotics Competition from 9 to 11:30 a.m., Friday, April 26, in the Hemisphere Lounge of Maucker Union on the UNI campus.

The ship-in robots, which are shipped to the UNI physics department, are operated by UNI students who follow each builder's written instructions. The competition is an elimination tournament in which pairs of mini-sumo robots fight head-to-head, trying to push each other out of a mini-sumo ring. The competition is the world's only ship-in robot competition.

Through the events, students build mini-sumo robots that compete with ship-in robots, and gain experience in many of the skills used in advanced manufacturing and high-technology industries throughout the country. At least four ship-in robot competitors have committed to sending their robots.

The event is free and open to the public, and sponsored by the UNI Department of Physics and the North American Robotics Association (NARA), which is housed at UNI. NARA's main objective is the promotion of mini-sumo robotics in educational and club environments.

There will also be a mini-sumo robots camp from Monday, June 24 through Friday, June 28, for middle and high school students wanting to learn about robotics.

The competition will be broadcast live on the Internet; the link will be posted on the UNI website on the morning of the event. For additional information about the competition or the camp, and videos of past competitions, visit or contact Cliff Chancey, department head and professor in the UNI Department of Physics, at 319-273-2425 or or Dale Olson, professor in the UNI Department of Physics, at 319-215-5501 or