2022 Mahoning Valley Robotics Challenge (MVRC) — Under-Penalized G205

First of all, on behalf of team 1038, I wanted to say that we had a blast at the MVRC off-season competition last weekend. We want to thank all of the wonderful volunteers and teams that make these events so much fun. We made lots of friends and came home with a finalist trophy, the imagery award, and many happy memories.

… And we have the battle scars to prove it, which brings me to the rules I want to discuss. Recall rule G205:

G205 This isn’t combat robotics. A ROBOT may not damage or functionally impair an opponent ROBOT in either of the following ways:
A. deliberately, as perceived by a REFEREE.
B. regardless of intent, by initiating contact inside the vertical projection of an opponent ROBOT’S FRAME PERIMETER. Contact between the ROBOT’S BUMPERS or COMPONENTS inside the ROBOT’S FRAME PERIMETER and COMPONENTS inside an opening of an opponent’s BUMPERS is an exception to this rule.
Violation: TECH FOUL and YELLOW CARD. If opponent ROBOT is unable to drive, TECH FOUL and RED CARD

We give all of our fellow teams the benefit of the doubt with respect to part A. But at Mahoning Valley, we were affected by one after another instance of harmful contact inside our frame perimeter. Despite repeated violations of G205, part B, no tech fouls or yellow cards were handed out to the teams defending us. Match after match, we saw illegal contact go under-penalized. Only G204 fouls were given, despite clear violations of G205. (Here is G204, for reference. The rules stipulate that, if both rules are violated, the most punitive penalty — in this case that of G205 — is to be assessed.)

G204 Stay out of other ROBOTS. A ROBOT may not use a COMPONENT outside its FRAME PERIMETER (except its BUMPERS) to initiate contact with an opponent ROBOT inside the vertical projection of that opponent ROBOT’S FRAME PERIMETER. Contact with an opponent in an opening of their BUMPERS or in the space above the BUMPER opening are exceptions to this rule.
Violation: FOUL.

Of course, we take responsibility for all damage that is our fault, as covered by the exceptions in part B of G205. Much of the damage to our frame itself can be attributed to collisions with other robots that were playing fair and legal defense. And we take full ownership of the many dents in our frame in gaps between our bumpers. We had polycarbonate parts snapped while they were inside our frame, but these were near enough to an opening in our bumpers to almost certainly qualify for an exception. So these damages are all our responsibility. We have learned and hope to improve much of this in future seasons, eliminating unnecessary gaps in our bumpers. (We now see that even though such gaps may be legal, they might also be disadvantageous.)

But what about sheet metal warped or folded nearly ninety degrees on parts that never came close to leaving our frame perimeter? Or metal brackets torn as could only have been the result of a direct hit? Or the numerous dents and sheet metal tears in our robot’s interior that indicate further illegal contact? (See pictures below.) And not one card or tech foul. Instead, only fouls under G204. But at the end of the day, we don’t really care about yellow cards, tech fouls, or even the damage to our robot; we care most about discouraging illegally aggressive gameplay that goes against the spirit of FRC.

We recognize that off-season events are quite casual (and are team- and volunteer-run). Nearly all the teams and other stakeholders we meet at such competitions are kind, patient, and Graciously Professional. But, in full support of the spirit of these events, we fault a culture of competition that sometimes plagues them. This culture is infectious, spreading between teams and affecting new members, and is made far worse when the rules that separate FRC from combat robotics are not enforced. We feel that a public forum is the best way for us to share our concerns from last weekend.

Here is a selection of photos … there are many more of other parts of our robot, as well.

A nylon SLS-printed part that cracked in two from a hit. This part is as close to the center of our robot as it gets.

An aluminum sheet metal bracket well inside our frame perimeter that was hit and significantly bent:

and finally …

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At any point during the competition did you got to the question box or approach the head referee and express your concerns and potentially get an explanation for the no-calls?

Unfortunately things do get missed sometimes, but referees/volunteers aren’t mind readers. So if there are concerns about how penalties are being called it should be brought to the attention of the people making those calls so if necessary they can keep a closer eye on things during the event, as there isn’t anything that can be done after the fact.

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Adding to PJ’s point, any damage caused which would result in a G205 call would have to be apparent to the referee(s). Since G204 was being called, perhaps the refs could not see the damage from where they made the calls.

Another factor in off-seasons is that they are often training grounds for new referees, who may be less confident in making calls.

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Here’s the long video of the event: 2022 Mahoning Valley Robotics Challenge (MVRC) - YouTube

I know we (2656) played more defense than we intended to, due to major intake problems, especially in Q19+. I’d like to see any of the plays that led to these robot injuries. I think this is a learning opportunity.

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I was unable to go and we had mostly new students who didn’t know better to ask. The mentors who attended were new to this as well. It was definitely a learning opportunity for the students and mentors. They still had a great time.

There isn’t a need to play agressive defense at an off-season event. The perception is this is purely for the win.

What upsets me the most ist that due to the severe damaged that was caused we are now forced to drop out of the next tournament we were planning to attend which had even more new students going to see their first event. We don’t have enough time and resources to make the needed repairs. Many of us still plan to attend to cheer and volunteer.

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Our intake was completeley destroyed and has to be rebuilt from the ground up. I couldn’t believe how badly it was damaged.

Pleasant surprise thought our 3D printed Mec wheels from our Fuse 1 held up despite the 1/2" Thunderhex they were mounted on being bent ~1 inch off center.

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I’d take this opportunity to use this as a great design learning experience. Robots are only becoming more powerful over time. If you’re relying on the referees to make the correct call 100% of the time, you’re only going to be disappointed.

Anything going outside the frame perimeter that can run into the field or another robot needs to be built to withstand impacts - it’s why we use as much polycarbonate as possible on those parts of the robot and try to make polycarbonate shields to prevent robots from entering our frame perimeter. It bends nicely but rarely breaks and if it does usually you can repair it with more polycarbonate or a flat piece of aluminum in a pinch.


Sounds like we gotta get one of those 3D printers! Sorry to hear about the damage to your robot. It’s a beautiful machine. My team loved it!

Due to helping out with Scouting, I didn’t get to see our robot play every match. Thus I’ve been rewatching the entire tournament. I’m keeping an eye out for the potential G205 hits your Captain mentioned.

Trust me are using this as a learning opportunity. We aren’t naive to think to think the referrees are going to catch 100% of everything, but to not catch any seems to be an oversight.

I have been doing this for a long time, been to lots of tournaments. This is the most damage I have ever seen on one of our robots. We build fairly robust machines, but at the same time this isn’t battlebots and so we aren’t designing these bots with that in mind. The pictures my student posted don’t do the damage inflicted justice.

It is definitely a game changer when it comes to designing and printing robust parts.

Aesthetics is number 1 on our team!

I understand the frustration, it does seem excessive from the pictures above. I think damage is more common than teams think though. Just about every team I’ve mentored has had to repair due to opponents or partners accidentally hitting something they probably shouldn’t have. I know they mention building robustly in the game manual, but I’d honestly love to see a “robots may accidentally jump into your frame perimeter during play, prepare accordingly” or something along those lines. We’d probably all start looking like refrigerator bots.


We have plenty of experience with reinforcing mechanisms that leave our frame perimeter. And the damage we are talking about was inside our frame perimeter. Our robot was very robust (we have been very careful to build structurally strong robots for the past many years), and survived two regionals and our first offseason comp with no structural issues. We do have polycarbonate shields, yet we had what I can only describe as a “tear” in a sheet metal bracket that was a) very strong, and b) behind a polycarbonate shield. But there is a gap where another robot’s part would have had to extend 9 or so inches inside our frame perimeter to impact it.

Unfortunately, we were very understaffed at the event, and most of the students who attended were new. Nevertheless, did a great job of managing our pit and match schedules.

To both you and @P.J’s point, we don’t necessarily fault individual referees. We are more worried about the culture of overly aggressive match play (and what seems like a single-minded focus on winning) that we have noticed in the Midwest in the past few years.

What matches did these happen in? Curious to see if there’s an obvious reason that they weren’t called.

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