Robotics Education & Competition Foundation
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MathWorks FollowThePath Challenge

MathWorks, the makers of MATLAB and Simulink, aims to engage students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) learning at a young age to help prepare them for success at the university level and beyond. The MathWorks FollowThePath Challenge will introduce participants to Model-Based Design using Simulink. Participants will use complimentary software to design a line follower algorithm for a simulated 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 team to compete at VEX Worlds or an Aerial Drone Championship.

Visit this link for a printable summary of this challenge.

View the recording of the October 17, 2023, MathWorks FollowThePath Challenge Ask Me Anything webinar for more information about this challenge!


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


One (1) Winner: $500 VEX Robotics gift certificate & 1st place trophy; if the winning entry is from a VIQRC, VRC, or Aerial Drone Competition team that has competed in their program with a physical robot/drone during their competition season, they will also receive an automatic qualification to the 2024 VEX World Championships or an Aerial Drone Regional Championship.

Four (4) Finalists: $100 VEX Robotics gift certificate


Teams must be part of a registered VEX Robotics Competition or Aerial Drone Competition team for the current season.

  • Only one entry per team is permitted. However, each team in a multi-team school or club program may submit one entry. For example, teams 123A and 123B could each submit an entry, but team 123A could not submit two entries. Entries must vary in content and presentation to be considered separate entries. 

  • Entries submitted in previous years’ Online Challenges are not eligible for submission this year.

  • Entries must be created and produced solely by student team members. It is acceptable for adults to assist with downloading and installing any necessary resources where students may need permission.

By uploading a submission to an REC Foundation Online Challenge, you agree to follow the Submission Guidelines and certify that you understand the Intellectual Property Rights held by you and the REC Foundation regarding your submission. Please review the Submission Guidelines and Intellectual Property Rights information at this link before uploading your submission.

NOTE: Entries for this challenge are not visible to the public, and can only be viewed by administrators and assigned judges.


Challenge Details

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

  • Teams will 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: 

Learning Path 

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

Arena Information 

  • The arena is a 4-meter * 4-meter space in all challenge 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 front of the drone may not always face toward the first line on the track when the simulation begins. 

  • 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.

Getting Started with the Challenge

Request software

  1. Go to the MathWorks FollowThePath webpage and click on “Request Software.”

  2. Fill in the details about your team as requested in the form (the form is to be filled by a team coach).

  3. Enter the competition name as ‘MathWorks FollowThePath Challenge’, if not already autofilled.  

  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 R2023b 

  • 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: 

    • >> openExample('parrot/ColorDetectionLandingOfParrotMinidroneExample'); (for MATLAB R2023b)

    • >> parrotMinidroneCompetitionStart (only for MATLAB R2023a or earlier)

  • 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: 

    • >> openExample('parrot/ColorDetectionLandingOfParrotMinidroneExample'); (for MATLAB R2023b)
    • >> parrotMinidroneCompetitionStart (only for MATLAB R2023a or earlier)
  • 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.

Help and Support

For help and support, participants can reach out to MathWorks at [email protected] with the subject line “Query/ Support – MathWorks FollowThePath Challenge – “   team #   ”).

Minimum Requirements

A submission must meet these minimum requirements in order to be judged.

Upload Instructions

Note: Beginning with the 2023-24 season, challenge entries must be uploaded by the primary contact for a registered team. This individual should ensure that the submission meets all requirements and criteria before uploading.

  1. Click the green Submit an Entry button on the right side of the screen.

  2. Fill out the submission form and add an optional description of the entry to the Short Description field.

  3. Ensure you are entering the correct team number and letter, with no spaces.

  4. Click Save.

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

  6. Drag/drop your Project Archive file into the Upload a File box, then refresh if needed to view file details below the Upload a File box.

  7. Edit the Display Name and file information to include your entry title and your team number; for example, "MathWorks Challenge entry, team 007x."

  8. Click on Save to record your edits.


Judging Information

The challenge will be judged by MathWorks engineers and specially-trained volunteers.  

The model will be evaluated bas 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 numbers 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 assessed, prioritizing the algorithm in the following order of importance: 

  • Code generation capability of the model. 

  • Number of tracks completed by the drone, including soft landings on the circular marker; completing a higher number of unknown tracks will result in a higher score. 

  • 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, the higher the score.

  • Time taken by the drone to complete a track; a shorter time will result in a higher score. 

 The most efficient and accurate algorithm that completes the highest number of tracks in the shortest simulation time will win the competition.

Deadline Information

Current time:
Tue, May 28, 2024 2:19 AM CDT


Wed, Nov 1, 2023 12:00 AM CDT


Wed, Jan 31, 2024 4:00 PM CST