Robot unicorns jousting with paper craft knights

Print out and make your own papercraft knights, sit them on app-controlled cardboard robot unicorns and joust! No this isn’t some wild dream about the future, you can do this right now if you’ve got two Smartibots, some paper and a printer.

Photo of two paper knights on robot unicorns colliding

Playing games with robots

Ever since we made the cardboard version of Wolfenstein 3D, and ran the telepresence games workshop, we’ve been thinking about games you can play with robots. We designed the Smartibot Unicorn to be able to carry a rider, and we realised that (the popular medieval sport of) jousting might be a fun, so we grabbed two Smartibot Unicorns, made some paper knights and tried it.

Looping video of two brightly coloured, cute paper knights sitting on cardboard unicorn robots and jousting

It turns out it is really fun! Plus it is very easy if you want to do it yourself.

How to make a knight, a fun craft activity

Picture of two paper templates to cut out and fold cute brightly coloured knights

First of all you need to print out your knights. There’s a PDF with the two complete designs we have made here, but if you would prefer to design your own knights, there is a PDF with a blank template you can decorate yourself here.

Next cut out the knight, their arm, the main body of their lance and the lance handle. Fold along the fold lines, then put glue (we used UHU but a glue stick or PVA should work) or double-sided tape on all the tabs. Assemble the knight by sticking the tabs inside the un-tabbed edges. Next attach the arm to the knight, folding the upper tab inwards and the lower tab outwards.

Photo of the handle being stuck onto a paper lance, with a brightly coloured paper knight in the background

Assemble the main body of the lance by folding along all the fold lines and sticking the tabs inside the un-tabbed edges. Assemble the lance handle by folding it into a square tube and sticking the long tab inside the untapped edge. Fold the four tabs at the top end outwards, apply glue or double sided tape and stick them to the bottom surface of the lance body.

Setting up robot jousting

Looping video of a purple and white striped lance made of paper being fitted into the arm of a purple, pink and blue paper knight

Now you have a complete lance and knight you can pop the lance into the knight’s arm and sit them on top of your Smartibot unicorn, ready for some jousting.

To play the game, set up two Smartibot unicorns, with armed knights sitting on top, about 0.3 to 0.5m apart. Switch the unicorns on and connect them to the Smartibot app, so each player can control theirs. Count down, and then on the mark, each player should drive their unicorn towards their opponents and try to knock off their knight. The player who's knight falls off their unicorn first is the loser. Keep score and have as many rounds as you want.

Looping animation of two hand decorated paper knights on cardboard robot unicorns jousting


A fun STEM design challenge

As a was of adding a competitive design challenge, why not make your own knights and lances using cardboard, straws, lollipop sticks or things from your recycling bin? The only rule is that the knight must be resting freely on their unicorn (not suck down or attached in any other way) and needs to be holding the lance. There’s a lot of scope for trying out different designs to see which ones are best at staying on and best at knocking other knights off.


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