Autonomous Herding

Check out the Blue Autonomous in F1 at the Gibralter District. 4405 crosses behind their switch and manages to position 5 of the cubes into great position for teleop scale loading while essentially denying them to Red. Nothing against 4405 because the herding certainly appears to have been inadvertent. No fouls were called.

I am sure this happened in other matches and will in the future. This seems like a bit of a game design weakness to me. I would hate to see a team get a yellow or red card for a minor autonomous error, but if this isn’t addressed it could really benefit alliances that “inadvertently” (clears throat) herded 6 cubes to their side of the scale during autonomous.

It is so easy to do this without really trying and hard to tell the difference. Yet it is so beneficial to the offending team (whether done in auto or in teleop) that it justifies stiff penalties. The rules warn of yellow and red cards for egregious offense, but it would be nice (in my opinion) if this was physically prevented by a short protrusion on the back face of the switch fence above the cable bump that prevented a full row of cubes from sliding along it.

This caught my attention, too. Thanks for starting a discussion, Wayne. :slight_smile:

My view is that volunteers should not be asked to judge intent. I would favor a very strict interpretation of G22-B, with the “brief” (G) plowing exception applied only to relatively minor displacement of multiple cubes.

I would have expected a G22 herding call if my team’s robot had moved multiple cubes to a strategically advantageous part of the field, as seen in the OP video. “We didn’t mean to” should not excuse gaining advantage by breaking a rule.

I hope that Head Referees will be given more specific guidance from Aidan regarding the difference between “brief” and “sustained” contact as those terms are used in G22-G.


I’ve seen this happen accidentally enough times that it probably wasn’t accidental. Definitely a big advantage to have lots of cubes near your side of the scale and away from your opponents’. Need to see this called more strictly. Your physical solution, Wayne, is not a bad idea either.

One of our alliance members suggested that exact move yesterday during our final at Montreal. A student came running to me in panic asking what I tough about this. I told them that it could get us a red card so I advise strongly against it. We’ll in the following weeks it if happens again.

Just saw the same strategy used in Dallas elims, looked like it got at least a foul though. I would think you should get a foul per extra cube per G22, which means 25-30 points for moving the whole row of switch cubes to your side.

Hopefully there is a clarification before next week, this needs to be called consistently.

I do like the ‘accidental’ dropping of the cube in the middle of the switch. “Oops, sorry! That herding was by accident, see?”

There is no one nicer than the Atom’s Family, I know for a fact that is was a complete accident – and am surprised we did not get a penalty for it.

It was one of my worries (a distant second to tipping over) when ran our untested cross field motion profile too…

I liked this one by Citrus Circuits

Bull in a china shop.

I think the refs need some direction. They are inclined to let teams slide in autonomous. Either FIRST should make herding legal in autonomous or it should be called.

I would not have a problem with either choice, although I will certainly have the kids adjust our motion profiles if they make it legal.

Auto hearding is one thing. Take a look at these three shots from semi-finals 1, 3, and 5 at WPI. In all three cases the pile found its way to the side of the scale of their own alliance. In all three cases there was no hearding foul was called. Thoughts? Chances it was “accidental”?

I wasn’t paying enough attention to comment on this specific case, but WPI had poor consistency in their calling when it came to herding/bulldozing. From the linked pictures it’s clear they were moving >4 cubes at a time. In one of 4564’s matches, we grabbed a cube from behind the switch and then backed into a cube with a unzipped cover that was dropped behind us, and we got called for a G22 penalty. I also witnessed multiple instances of the infamous 6-cube push that went uncalled.

I hope that the head referees will instruct their crew to call G22 with a more consistent set of guidelines in the coming weeks!

We talked to the refs about this after this match and we were told it was just bulldozing, which is legal. The only difference between bulldozing (legal) and herding (illegal) is intent. We tried to argue that in auto this has to be herding since it’s planned paths but we weren’t able to get the call.

Unfortunately having all of those fence cubes taken away did affect the match a lot in our opinion since the only way to get any of those cubes after auto without risking a tech foul by touching a robot in their null territory would basically require one of our bots to go around their switch, risking more fouls for hitting their stack and easy defense by 1410.

Either way, refs at Utah didn’t seem to call it but we think they probably should.

This was definitely an accident, and we made attempts all weekend to tune our auto’s (with limited success).

It is surprisingly easy to accidentally herd cubes this year with a distinct strategic advantage.

Also, with time-based scoring, a simple points-based penalty does not always reflect the severity of the offense. Herding all 6 platform zone cubes right next to your null zone is a huge advantage to the offending team, and could all-but-guarantee ownership of the scale.

I hope there are some solutions going forward that reduce the chances of team’s doing this accidental herding. This game is already pretty penalty-heavy.


Herding (illegal) as given in the manual:
intentional pushing a POWER CUBE to a desired location or direction
(emphasis mine)
If you pushed away from your scale this would not be the case, but I think it’s pretty obvious what direction they’re pushing.

Bulldozing (legal):
inadvertent contact with POWER CUBES while in the path of the ROBOT moving about the FIELD
This would make a case for what teams were doing, except that the plowing example is also given

Plowing (also legal):
brief contact with a large quantity of POWER CUBES while attempting to break up a pile, or gain access to an area of the FIELD. Sustained contact after the brief plowing action will be subject to “herding” (emphasis mine)

The robots even in auto are responsible for their actions. If you cross to the opponents’ side you get a foul. If you pick up two cubes, you get a foul. If you have sustained contact you SHOULD have a foul.

There are a lot of fouls called that the team never INTENDED to commit, but are still required to own up to. This is obviously one of them.

I agree it should have resulted in a foul. However we also believe that 1678 didn’t commit it on purpose.

This foul is an interesting one to commit because it’ll only cost you around 30 foul points (5 for every cube if I’m correct) but easily leads to scale and switch control for an entire match which can give back way more.

Sounds like, whether it’s intentional or not, repeated infractions should lead to cards.

Exactly, we agree it should have been a foul too. I also agree that the penalty does not necessarily offset the advantage given.

The same can also be said for pushing down the scale with the robot (G25 Violation). The gaining of ownership and time opponent doesn’t have ownership results in a net zero or net point advantage to the offending team (as long as less than 5 seconds).

Certainly an interesting predicament this year.


It has created an interesting dilemma. It seems every year there is an ambiguous rule call that rises to the surface at the end of week 1 or week 2.

IMO in a move to better define the calls, teams should be given the yellow card and possible harsher score penalties (Tech foul per 2 cubes?) A rule change such as this would discourage teams from doing this on purpose and possibly equalize the playing field for the opposing alliance.

This looked to be a strategy with some teams, even in teleop. They would push an entire line of cubes away from the opponent’s scale and towards their own. This seemed an intentional move to disadvantage the other alliance. I didn’t see any significant penalty for this repeated behavior.