Robotics Education & Competition Foundation
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MathWorks FollowThePath Online Challenge

MathWorks, the makers of MATLAB and Simulink, aims to engage students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) learning at a younger age can help prepare them for success at the university level and beyond. 

Submissions due February 15, 2023 at 5pm Central Time

Winners will be announced March 15, 2023 via email


MathWorks - Ask me Anything Webinar Recording

MathWorks - Introduction Webinar Recording



The MathWorks FollowThePath Online Challenge will introduce participants to Model-Based Design using Simulink. The participants will design a line follower algorithm for a drone.  

This challenge provides an opportunity to simulate and learn path planning, image processing, and control systems for a drone line follower. The challenge is open to all student teams participating in REC Foundation’s Aerial Drone Competition or VEX VRC Robotics Competition and presents an opportunity for the top 3 teams to compete at VEX Worlds or an Aerial Drone Championship.

MathWorks will provide each participating team with complimentary software to work on the problem statement.  

Learning Path 

To get started with the basics to compete in the challenge, you can use the following steps: 

NOTE: Entries for this Challenge will not appear in RobotEvents, and are not visible through this website!


Grade Level Requirements
Elementary School Middle School High School College / University No Grade Level Restrictions
Program Requirements
Aerial Drone Competition VEX V5 Robotics Competition


Top 3 Teams will receive:

  • An Invitation to a VEX World Championship or Aerial Drone Championship
  • Award Certificate and Trophy
  • MATLAB Student License to the students of the top 3 placed teams
  • A Parrot Mambo drone


Teams must be a part of a registered VEX High School or Middle School VRC or REC Foundation Aerial Drone Competition team

Only one entry may be submitted by each team 


Getting Started with the Challenge 

Request software 

  1. Click here to OPT IN. Once you opt-in to participate in the MathWorks FollowThePath Challenge, you will receive a link from REC Foundation to request for the software needed to participate in the competition 

  2. Fill in the details about your team as requested in the form (The form is to be filled by the team leader or the faculty advisor) 

  3. Enter the competition name as ‘MathWorks FollowThePath Challenge at Aerial Drones Competition’  

  4. Submit the form 

  5. MathWorks will respond within 72 business hours. If your request is approved, you will receive instructions for downloading the software and distributing it to your team members. 

Access the software 

You have two options to access the getting started model- you can either install the tools on the machine or you can access the model from your browser. 

Option 1: Install on a machine 

  • Once you receive the license, install MATLAB R2022b 

  • You are recommended to install the following tools. You may need other toolboxes available from to install using the license as the need is felt by your team while working on the problem statement: 

    • MATLAB, Simulink, Aerospace Toolbox, Aerospace Blockset, Control System Toolbox, Signal Processing Toolbox, Simulink 3D Animation, Simulink Coder, Embedded Coder, Optimization Toolbox, Simulink Control Design, Stateflow 

  • Install the Simulink Support Package for Parrot Minidrones from Add-Ons. Use the following link for instructions:  

  • Once the Hardware Support Package is installed, you can type the following in the MATLAB Command Window: 

    • >>  parrotMinidroneCompetitionStart 

    • This will start the competition specific Simulink Project where the Minidrone constantly moves right until it detects a Blue Box underneath it. You can test the model first in Simulations. I would suggest going through the Quick-Starters before hardware deployment. 

Option 2: Access from browser 

  • Once you receive the license, associate your MATLAB account with the license. You can check the ‘Link a License to Your Account’ section on the following webpage:

  • Once the linking is complete, Start using Simulink Online: 

  • After the MATLAB Window is open in your browser, you can type the following in the MATLAB Command Window: 

    • >>  parrotMinidroneCompetitionStart 

  • This will start the competition specific Simulink Project where the Minidrone constantly moves right until it detects a Blue Box underneath it. You can test the model first in Simulations. I would suggest going through the Quick-Starters before hardware deployment. 

Rules of the Challenge

Technical Details  

  • Team must work on designing a drone line follower algorithm - The drone must take off, follow the underlying, red-colored path and softly land on the circular marker located at the end of the track. 

  • Teams will need to use their modeling skills to refine a Simulink model. 

  • The models submitted by the team will be tested on unknown tracks. Your team can use the Track Builder app to create and test different tracks: 

Arena Information 

  • The arena is 4-meter * 4-meter space in simulations. 

  • The arena track is 10 cm in width.  

  • The landing circular marker has a diameter of 20 cm.  

  • The line follower track consists of connected line segments only and does not have any smooth curves at the connections.  

  • The angle between any two track sections can have a value between 10 degrees to 350 degrees. 

  • The track can have anywhere between 1 to 10 connected line segments. The initial position of the drone will always be on the start of the line. However, the mouth of the drone may not always face the direction of the first line on the track. 

  • The distance from the end of the track to the center of the circle is 25 cm.  

  • The background on which the track will be laid may not be a single color and will have texture. 


Detailed instructions to prepare your files can be found here 

  • Click the green Enter Challenge button on the right side of the screen.

  • Fill out the submission form and type your team number in the Full Description box.  No other information should be added to this box.

  • Click Save.

  • Click the blue Files/Images button in the upper right of the screen.

  • Drag/drop your project file into the Upload a File box.

  • Edit the Display Name and file information to include your entry name and team number.

  • Save your edits and click Update on the entry screen.

Judging Information

The challenge will be judged by MathWorks engineers.  

The model will be evaluated based on the capability of completing the line follower track followed by landing on the circular marker. 

The model will be tested on multiple tracks with multiple number of track sections oriented at different angles. The color of the track for the simulation round will be Red (#FF0000).  

The model performance will be verified using an internal judging interface prioritizing the algorithm in the following order of importance: 

  1. Code generation capability of the model – the model must be code generation capable 
  2. Number of tracks completed by the Minidrone including soft landing on the circular marker – higher the number of unknown tracks completed, higher is the score 
  3. Accuracy of the path traced by the drone with respect to the track laid in the Simulink 3D environment – the closer the drone is to the track, higher is the score 
  4. Time taken by the drone to complete a track – the shorter is the time, the higher is the score 

The most efficient and accurate algorithms that complete maximum number of tracks in the shortest simulation time will win the competition. 

The decision made by the judges will be final. 

Deadline Information

Current time:
Tue, Jun 18, 2024 4:16 PM CDT


Thu, Dec 1, 2022 12:00 AM CST


Thu, Feb 16, 2023 5:00 PM CST