Some notes from regional FLL referees

Yesterday several of the region’s FLL referees met with Joe Varnell (North Texas Head Referee) to review the rules and common situations encountered this year’s game. We also reviewed some of the questions and topics that have arisen during the many scrimmages. Here’s a summary of some of the more common ones, so that you can be aware of them prior to arriving at competition. This is just a summary recap — please carefully read the mission descriptions, rules, and game updates for full details.

Rule D08 – Models: Teams are not allowed to attach models to other objects, including other models. For example, in scrimmages (and some YouTube videos) we’ve seen teams try to attach the Chicken to the studs on the top of the Octopus, in violation of rule D08. Any models that violate D08 will not be counted as scoring.

M10 – Demolition: When demolishing the Building, the Robot must not break the bracket in the process of doing so. If the Robot breaks the bracket or separates its Dual Lock while demolishing the building, this mission will not score. (Rule R15 — Field Damage)

M05 and Plastic Bag Removal: Although the game video shows the plastic bag being removed from the Sorter by hand, this is NOT allowed. (Robot Game Update #2 and rule GP5)

M03 – Transport mission: In order to score 110 points for the Truck/Yellow Bin mission, BOTH scoring conditions must be visible at the END of the match. If at the end of the match the Yellow Bin is on the mat, or anywhere such that the Truck is not supporting all of the Yellow Bin’s weight, then you don’t get the 50 points for that part of the mission, even if the Yellow Bin was on the Truck at some point earlier in the match. (M03 and Robot Game Update #14)

M08 – Composting: Some of the composter models seem to be a little finicky, even when apparently built correctly. We’ve seen cases where a robot triggers the model properly but the model fails to release the compost for no obvious reason. While referees and field reset personnel will do their very best to keep the composters working, we know that sometimes things still don’t work out.

If a composter fails when it’s clear that it should’ve worked, referees will try to manually release the Compost (or provide an alternate) in a timely manner if that’s possible. If it turns out to not be possible, referees will apply GP3 (“Benefit of the Doubt”) to decide how missions related to the Compost should be scored.

However, there are some common situations where leniency won’t be granted. For example, if the Robot hits the composter hard enough to cause its “green lid” to fall backwards into the pendulum mechanism, then any failure to release the Compost is considered normal and the referee will not attempt to reposition the lid, restart the pendulum, or manually eject the Compost. The same goes for other strategies where a Robot activates the composter in a rough or uncontrolled manner.

R13 Interrupting: Penalties for touching / interrupting a robot outside of Base are applied the next time the robot is Launched out of Base (rule R13). Historically such penalties have often been called “touch penalties”, but it’s not the touching of the robot that incurs the penalty — it’s the returning to Base for re-launch that is penalized.

Thus a team that stops or interrupts a Robot and leaves it place (or doesn’t re-launch the robot from Base) doesn’t receive a penalty for that final interruption.

R10 “Hands Off”, R12 “Launching”, and R14 “Stranding”:  Anything that the Robot causes to happen outside of Safety stays that way — teams and referees do not attempt to “reset” or fix them by hand. (Exception: The Careers mission grants some leniency to R10 for the Sorter Model.)

So, if the Robot leaves a Model or a piece of equipment completely outside of Safety, it’s considered “Stranded” (R14) and remains there until the end of the Match or the Robot moves it (R12 bullets 4 and 5). Each piece of equipment (mission models are never “equipment”) still outside of Safety at the end of the match incurs a Junk Penalty (D09 bullet 2).

Anything that is completely in Safety the team gets to pick up and keep.

Things that are stranded partly in Safety get special treatment that occurs at the moment they are stranded — i.e., when the Robot loses contact with them:

  • Equipment that is stranded partly in Safety is taken completely into Safety (the team keeps it) and immediately incurs a Junk Penalty (R14 and D09). Again, mission models are never considered “equipment” or “junk”.
  • BARS of any color that are partly in Safety are immediately taken completely into Safety, and normal rules and scoring then apply for them being in Safety (Robot Game Update #6).
  • All other models that are stranded partly in Safety are immediately picked up by the referee and taken out of play (R14). This generally means that these models can no longer be used to score missions.

The end result of this is that nothing is allowed to rest partly in Safety, other than the Robot itself and the things it is transporting.

I hope this is useful to teams, and we all look forward to seeing your robots at competitions!

Pm

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