2021 Team Update 03

I like that they gave this clarification very early on and I think it’s a good rule. It means you get 3 shots (assuming they score) then you are forced to reset by bringing the bot back to the re-int zone

Now teams just have to figure out the fastest way to get:

  1. The bot back to the re-int zone
  2. A full payload back to the re-int zone

I disagree. In the actual game, if an alliance overwhelms the opposing HP station, the PCs must be reintroduced right there next to the goal, and many teams (including your INBLO alliance partners) designed their robots and strategies to harvest them.


This was a strategy, but not one that was pulled off very much. Granted we only got 3 weeks of comps and we may have started seeing it more as teams improved.

Even for alliances that did pull this off, the new rule update is consistent with the game. Teams still have to move to rebound PCs then re-aim to score again in both cases. Prior to this ruling, teams could like on target perpendicular to the goal and rely on the rebound. This provides a clear understanding of what the GDC has determined to be a minimal amount of movement (re-int zone)


Interesting you say that. From the 2020 matches I watched in my home district, roughly half the teams did not perform trench runs; they preferred to harvest close to the goal. Particularly the low-goal robots.


Yes, but were they able to sit in one location/orientation without having to re-align with the goal? I guess that’s more the point I was trying to make. The new rule is forcing teams to break strategy that allows for no movement.


The benchmarks for me will always be 71 in 2002, and 469 in 2010. Brilliant and effective engineering designs that required little to no movement to dominate an aspect of the game.

The robots we build for the 2021 season obviously have to move, in order to pass “inspection” and to complete the other 4 challenges. I understand and respect the GDC’s decision, but I would have preferred a different outcome.

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As a student in 2010, I remember deeply admiring that design, because it fit completely into my understanding of the rules.

Meanwhile in the same year, I hated the two-bar “handball” soccer ball manipulators that stuck the balls to the outside of robots, and hated the “side climb” robots that grabbed onto the side of the climbing structure, instead of only using the horizontal bar at the top. Both of them struck at fundmental assumptions I had about the requirements of the game, rather than assumptions about the shape of the solution.

Those two types of mechanisms felt like a breach of trust with the referees (I watched the handball mechs lift balls off the floor w/ no carrying calls) and the game designers (the “at home” field pullup bar model was based on 4x4’s rather than a complete structure - it never crossed our mind to use the side bars).

When I came back as a mentor, I’ve been focused on high fidelity field models & rules understandings as a personal priority, to protect my students (& my neighboring teams) from having the same experience as much as possible.

Opportunities for “brilliant and effective” designs “to dominate” are playing with fire in terms of the inspiration & emotional impact on participants outside the team that brings them to compete.

I’m glad the GDC is working to close intent loopholes and I continue to be nervous about how much “intent” is still written into the at-home challenges in current form. We’re an inspiration program - I love when we optimize for positive emotional outcomes by playing from the same set of rules.


Do we think this modification of the field element is likely to be allowed or not?

It seems a huge change to me (though needed).

Previous to this change, as near as I read the rules, with a flat target a robot could simply “dribble” the ball against the flat goal, perhaps many times per second. And presumably you could build 3 such mechanisms side-by-side and triple your points.

Alternatively if your 2&3 point goal drain to the 1pt goal, you could park against the element and shoot upward scoring 2 or 3 points and have the ball drain back into your input. Repeat as fast as possible. Rules
1. IAC1. Teams may not attempt more than fifteen (15) POWER CELL shots.
2. IAC2. Teams must attempt at least three (3) POWER CELLS per zone. The remaining three (3) POWER CELLS may be shot from any of the four (4) zones.

Am I missing something? There is a very low upper limit on the number of shots you can score in this challenge. 15 shots in 5 minutes should be very do-able for most teams. All this discussion about machine-gun scoring seems a bit pointless…?

The conversation you speak of was about the Power Port Challenge; the rules you snipped are from the Interstellar Accuracy Challenge.
Either way, TU03 nerfed the strategy.


According to Q23, yes, a chute on a Power Port mock-up is allowed.


Ah, thanks. Somehow I missed that.

While it appears there was some confusion worth clarifying, it seems to me that the original wording indicated this: (emphasis mine)

POWER CELLS which land in the Challenge Space may be fielded directly by the ROBOT anywhere in the Challenge Space; they do not need to be reintroduced by a human or into the Reintroduction Zone.

Dribbling a POWER CELL against the PORT is clearly not Ok because the CELL never lands in the Challenge Space, which implies that it has hit the floor. The original wording would also have prohibited a ROBOT from bouncing the CELL off the PORT and catching it directly without any floor contact in between.

There are no rules that prohibit the robot from exiting the Challenge Space during the skills challenges. Nor are there rules prohibiting human players from entering the Challenge Space during the skills challenges.


It seems that the design and build challenge this year is for a mechanism integrated into the goal which can automatically and quickly return cells to human players stationed in the re-introduction zone. The metric for success being that the scored cells are awaiting the robot when it arrives back at the re-introduction zone after firing them.


“The real robot was the ball return we made along the way.”


Nor are there rules prohibiting human players from entering the Challenge Space during the skills challenges.

I cannot see a situation where a human player should be permitted to be on the main challenge space to collect balls while the robot is enabled. It is basic safety - if the robot is enabled and driving, no student should be near the 'bot - especially during a frantic 60 second challenge.


Take this with a grain of salt as it is different for each team.

For the sake of “Speed” I imagine teams will find their sweet spot for shooting. If someone is on the field it is because the bot is not collecting PCs themselves but instead only navigating to the launch point and re-int point where there is already a human player.
Being that there are no loading chutes, I don’t know what the GDC can really say in the rules besides no-one on the field (including re-int) until the bot light shows disabled.

This is very different from 6 bots on the field which is levels higher for danger.
That said, @Bilby has already made a good point that is seeing little discussion here.

Teams. Have a very clear plan for ANY hp to robot interaction! Know who and where and how. This is not a live game that will shift mid-match. There is no need or warrant to improvise mid-round because you all of a sudden have better idea. Regroup, re-plan, then re-run.


While that may be the case, an enabled robot on a much smaller than normal field, travelling at high speed to be reloaded, seems to be a danger to any student in close proximity - even more so if some of the balls land between the robot and the reintroduction zone. Given the situation of excited students trying to collect the balls from the field and return them to the loading zone as fast as possible, the risk of harm would be quite high. My feeling is that any strategy which includes this risk is not a viable strategy.

I find it odd that FTC, which also had an at-home version of their competition, and which involves much lighter, smaller and slower robots, had clear safety requirements included in the competition rules - including the normal “don’t allow any part of your body to enter the field during competition”. The FRC robots are considerably more dangererous that the FTC robots, and yet, as pointed out, there may be nothing in the rules stopping students from being in close proximity while they are operating. I’m reminded yet again that these rules for the at-home challenges do not appear to have been adequately worked out before launch. While I don’t like putting extra burdens on teams, insisting on a barrier between the robot and the human player and the drive team would have made a lot of sense, and certainly is a burden that we’d be comfortable with.


This was clearly not the intent. :wink:

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