Robotic Art Grand Challenge

2016 RobotArt Contest is first of five annual challenges that hope to inspire the creation of true artificial creativity.

​​​​​In the tradition of recent Technological Grand Challenges, RobotArt has pledged over half a million dollars in prizes over 5 years to competitors in a new Robotic Grand Challenge.  This Grand Challenge is simple to describe but difficult to master, create a robot that paints with a brush like a classical master.  The more skilled and creative the robot, the better.

With a deadline to submit artwork on April 14th, a dozen teams from around the world have already committed. Notable entries include multiple alumnus of the DARPA Grand Challenges that ultimately saw the successful creation of self driving cars including Carnegie Mellon, Cornell, UC San Diego, and Purdue.  Notable international competition comes from Canada, France, Germany, and India.

Though initial registration has already resulted in a competitive field, the organizers of the 2016 RobotArt Competition seeks as many contributors as possible. To encourage more participation in the inaugural year, the competition has committed over $100,000 to a total of 16 cash rewards in 2 categories, Telerobotic and Fully Automated painting robots.

The two categories represent competing world views currently held by technologists working in the field of artificial creativity.  Engineers interested in the Telerobotics Category typically see machines as collaborators with humans.  When asked about why she preferred telerobotics, Yeliz Karadayi of Carnegie Mellon University responded.

Credit: University of Konstanz, and eDavid's creators.
Credit: University of Konstanz, and eDavid’s creators.

“I certainly hope that this competition will start a dialogue in which people understand that robots are best utilized as collaborators with humans, instead of as replacements for humans.”

While technologists with robots capable of producing completely automated artwork share an interest in collaboration, they are more focused on removing the human element from the equation. Oliver Deussen, one of the creators of eDavid, elaborates on this view,

“We are interested to what extent artistic craftsmanship can be implemented when doing machine painting – is it also possible to let the robot find his own style, judge and improve his result autonomously? Fully automatic processes also have the beauty of sometimes getting the unexpected.”

While some teams are choosing to concentrate on one of the two categories, most are capable of operating in both such as the aforementioned eDavid and Pindar Van Arman’s cloudPainter. Regardless of the category each team chooses to compete in, it is notable that this competition requires that all artwork be painted with an artist’s brush.  When event sponsor Andrew Conru was asked about this requirement he responded,

”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.”

With two months left to register there are currently more cash rewards than registered competitors for the 2016 RobotArt Competition. For more information on how to join the competition and specific rules, visit

Event Organizer Contact Information​:

Andrew Conru​
Stanford PhD, Engineer and Artist​
abconru at

​Competitors Available for Comment:
​Oliver Deussen​
Konstanz, Germany
University of Konstanz
oliver.deussen at

​​Pindar Van Arman
Washington D.C.
George Washington University​
pindar.vanarman at