Breaking the plane

It’s my understanding that a robot that breaks the plane of the driver station will be disabled for safety reasons.

Is this also true if the offending robot breaks the plane on the auto-load side, away from all of the students, near the corner goal? Is this still a safety concern?

What happens if an opposing robot pushes a robot that is attempting to score, resulting in the scoring robot breaking the plane. Is the opposing robot disabled? Is it not legal defense? Is the scoring robot disabled?

Our robot was pushed while attempting to score back in week 1 at BAE (before this was an official rule) and we were almost (the ref had his hand about half an inch over the E-stop) disabled. The pushing team suffered no ill consequences.

Its a matter of safety. Any robot that is deemed to be operating in an unsafe manner or endangers the safety of anyone, can and should be disabled.

The breaking the plane rule that most people are talking about is for the lexan that is infront of the drivers, if you go over that wall, or you swing a tetra out over that wall, it is grounds for disablement due to the fact that it is putting the drivers in danger.

The issue of being pushed over the wall was dealt with at midwest regional, by disabling both robot involved, this was the decision of the head referee, and the justification being that both robots were causing a safety violation.

Going beyond the field beariers in an area where no one is present, ie over the goal on the auto loader side of the field is not grounds for disablement. Unless it breaks the first rule in the rule book, which is safety first.

Why wasn’t this enforced at BMR or during the practice/ qualification rounds at MWR? We had never been called for this until the semifinal match where our entire alliance ended up being disabled.

It was not “called” in practice because practice rounds are neither scored nor refereed. A few of the refs. were out there at times during practice to educate the teams on the rules. When a tetra broke the plane, the team was told that it would cost them disablement during the competition.

The ruling was enforced early and often in the qualifying rounds. It happened in the second qualifying match when team #81 broke the plane. It continued to happen way into the eliminations.

The ruling was enforced the same at GLR, Detroit, and MWR. In each instance, the teams were warned in advance that “breaking the plane” would lead to being disabled. GLR had no calls; Detroit had a few; Midwest had bunches and bunches. What’s wrong with that sequence of events? I’ll tell you what’s wrong. Teams are on their way to playing inside a plastic cage, or maybe not ever again should a tragedy occur, due to their insistence at throwing caution to the wind for the sake of scoring a three point tetra.

I fail to see why playing inside a plastic box would be a problem. Or atleast playing in a station with a ceiling of some sort. It would just mean that FIRST acknowledges that there’s a safety issue there that’s better solved with some PPE than with telling teams to be really super careful. Battlebots quite obviously fully acknowledges the safety hazards presented by their robots and encases the entire field in a near bulletproof lexan box. FIRST should realize that things can come over that wall and do something about it.

If the red alliance is holding a tetra high about 4 feet from the wall, makes a spin move, and accidentally flings a tetra over the wall, recriminations and more rules and penalties won’t get rid of my headache. A net will.

Similarly, it’s more effective to tell kids to wear gloves and safety goggles when working on a robot than to exhort them to make a 30 minute safety analysis of their 15 minute job and make them stop if it looks like there’s a 2% chance of them getting a scrape.

Thanks for the clarification Jack. I understand that it is a safety hazard, though I guess it just seems odd that a tetra barely hanging over a driver station is infinitely more dangerous than the tetras that were literally flung out of the bounds of the field and into judges and referees by some robots.
I suppose I blithely assumed that the driver stations would be constructed in a similar fashion as 2004’s with a plate or “ceiling” of some kind over the top.

I agree with the two posts above me.

I understand the fields are already built and we’ve been playing with these rules for 4-5 weeks, but the only way to truly protect the drivers is a taller wall or ceiling over the operator station. It doesn’t seem to me that this would change the game play too much. I think it would make matches more enjoyable with less disabled robots and more safety. In my opinion, FIRST also needs to better protect the volunteers and workers on the side of the field who seem less protected than even the drivers.

If it were my call, I would only disable a robot if there was “a clear and present danger” to the operators on the other side. Nevertheless, I understand the rules and the calls which were made at Midwest; and I really enjoy this game even though it seems like a bad idea to put scoring objectives so dangerously close to humans (both the goals and the loading stations).

Not true. RObots were repeatedly disabled for ‘breaking the plane’, regardless of where they were breaking it. I saw several cases of a robot
being disabled when they were trying to score on the auto loader corner goal and the tetra extended beyond the plane of the wall, at a height below the top of the human player wall.

Josh said:

The issue of being pushed over the wall was dealt with at midwest regional, by disabling both robot involved, this was the decision of the head referee, and the justification being that both robots were causing a safety violation.

So basically a scoring team that is being defended is being penalized. I guess we should just change this game to have one goal - the center goal - because going over the edge barriers is also a disable.

We disabled a grand total of 1 (one) robot at Boilermaker last week, and that was because it got tipped and almost took out the scoring table. There were a few instances where machines were being pushed over the top of the wall and a couple of drivers did get brushed by a tetra. There was one match where a robot got hit away from the wall and a tetra went flying over the wall and landed behind the team zone. Still, we did not disable them. Were those the right calls? Maybe, maybe not. Are we lucky that no one got seriously hurt? Probably. Should FIRST have realized that much scoring would take place at the wall with robots that have the ability to extend well above the top of the wall? ABSOLUTELY. Whether we have been playing for 4 weeks or not shouldn’t matter at all - there needs to be a remidy made for next week or surely the Championship with some sort of ceiling.

Its not an issue of penalizing anybody, its an issue of maintaining a safe environment for people to compete in. One of the first things stated in the referee manual is that the main concern of the refs is safety, along with scoring the game, and making sure no other rules are violated.

Many teams found new ways to score tetras on the center goal without going over the glass, often it involved changing their strategy, but teams that persisted in driving full speed toward the center goal and then stopping causing the tetra they were carrying to swing out over the glass, were consistently disabled.

There were not nearly as many disablings for the safety issues on saturday as there were on friday, simply because people began to play smarter and play safer, not that the robots weren’t being disabled and continued to create a safety issue.

On another note, it is not the referees who make the field, or design the game, or choose the height of the plays station wall, but it is the referees who are called upon to make sure that the game is carried out in the safest manner possible.

So as long as the tetra height is below the top of the player station lexan, and you’re on the side of the auto-loader, breaking the plane should not result in disablement because there is no true safety hazard? Is this how the game is being consistently called?

Let’s be PERFECTLY clear.

There is NO RULE that specifically states that a team cannot “break the plane” of the player station wall. The disabled robots are a result of the highest level safety rule S01 (READ your rules - they are available to everyone) which is enforced based on the interpretation and at the discretion of the referees.

At some regionals, following some injuries in the first weekend of competition, the head referee used his discretion to pre-determine that it would be considered a safety hazard to have tetras swinging over the top of the player station wall, and that the offending/causing robot(s) would be disabled. Teams have been clearly and consistently notified of this “rule” during practice sessions and drivers meetings, and most have been appropriately cautious. I agree that the best solution would be a more “physically” well-protected player’s station area, but with that option currently not available this is the next best thing.

I will have to agree with this enforcment of safety. During UCF regional, young tytus took a tetra to the face during finals when a robot’s arm came over the top with a tetra.

I fully understand the safety guidelines that the “rule” is based on. That having been said, this is why I have a problem with the ruling that was being made at Midwest:

Robots were being disabled for breaking the plane, not being in an unsafe position. Some may ask what the difference is. I have a perfect example. In our last qualifying match, we were attempting to score on our home center goal (we were in position 2, so the goal and robot was right in front of us). The way we score is we lift and rotate, then score. We don’t lift or rotate until we come up to the goal for stability reasons. When we got to the goal, an opponent came in and started to pin us…then backed off. We couldn’t get out enough to lift and rotate without swinging the corner of the tetra over our heads (just the corner). The way our grabber works is that it hooks in two places at the bottom of the tetra - if the tetra were to get knocked off, it falls onto one of the hooks. No matter how we would have been hit, there would have been no way for the tetra to fall over the glass onto our heads. Regardless, I figured we would be disabled if we did so, so I told our driver to not lift and rotate unless the robot could be moved away from the wall. We could not push the opponent out of the way or lift…so we weren’t getting pinned, but we couldn’t go up without being called on a safety violation that didn’t exist. Afterwards I confirmed with a referee that my thoughts on the matter were correct.

That was a very frustrating situation to be in because of a rule that doesn’t actually exist.

Just my two cents…take them or leave them.


It’s a fine line, but an important distinction. If there is a safety concern, the robot (and probably any robot that was involved in creating the safety concern, e.g. the opponent who pushes the scoring robot into an unsafe position) should be disabled. However, breaking the plane does not automatically constitute a safety concern (especially in the case where it is above the auto-load side home goal, away from everyone).

I hope that this is called consistently and clearly, and that all safety concerns result in disablement - but only true safety concerns.

I can understand why this would cause one to be not content with the ruling that was made. However, the one thing that comes to my mind is that safety is an incredibly important concern… more important than making sure that every call was called correctly. While making sure that things are fair is a priority, if I were a referee I would rather air on the side of caution and possibly disable a robot when it might not have been a real threat to safety - instead of letting it go and possible having people get hurt. I think that if there is any question about whether or not a robot might be posing danger to any of the people behind the driver’s station or to the field attendants - that robot should be disabled - because I would rather have a dissapointed alliance than possible injuries to the people in the vicinity of the field.

I know that it is hard to get over the dissapointment of what may feel like an unjustified call, but if anyone felt that the robot was presenting danger, I think it is better that the robot was disabled. If the situation were slightly different, and the robot actually WAS presenting real danger, and the refs did not disable the robot because it might not have actually been dangerous… the end result would be injuries - a far worse problem than a team who is upset because of disablement.

In my opinion… it is better to be safe than sorry!

– Jaine