Climbing: consequences of failure

There is an unfortunate dynamic this year that if a robot attempts to climb and fails, they would likely tilt the switch away from being balanced. Often, there is no penalty for attempting an endgame task and failing, so you might as well try it. In Stronghold, for instance, and even Power Up, if you hooked on, tried to pull yourself up, and didn’t make it, well at least you tried. This year if you try and fail, you cost your alliance points.


To determine endgame strategy, in the prematch huddle we’ll ask who can climb. The answers determine the plan.

One climber: Climber climbs in the center. Others park. Score: 50 Failed climb score: 15
Two climbers: Climbers hang on the sides to balance the switch. Other parks. Score: 70, plus ranking point. One failed climb score: 35, no RP
Three climbers: Fastest climber climbs in center. Others climb on sides to balance switch. Score 90, plus RP. One failed climb score (on side): 55, no RP

In each case, a team who tells their partners they can climb, but fails to do so, results in a score lower than if they had not tried. Demonstrating your climb on the practice field is of utmost importance. This is a year where unfounded optimism can significantly harm your alliance partners.


This would be a key item for scouts to watch then. If a team has reliably climbed in the past then there shouldn’t be an issue.

If it has been hit/miss or they take an unusually long time then the coach is gonna have to keep a close eye on the score which will be tough.
High differential between the team (doesn’t matter if you’re on the winning or losing end) then attempt the climb.
Closer score, they have to determine if a failed drop is make or break.

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The first robot can be decently far away from the center of the bar (12" or so) and have the switch still be level when they are hanging. With that fixed position for the first robot, there are places where a second robot could climb and keep the switch level and still be far enough away from the first robot to allow room for them to hang (depending of course on the weights of the robots).

Also, if the first robot can adjust their position on the bar, then they can climb near the middle and then shift outward if the second robot is successful. That takes some time perhaps, but would be relatively easy to implement a set of rollers into the hook to allow you to move on the bar.

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There was a bit of talk after kickoff about the climb RP being “easy”. This analysis shows why careful consideration of not just a team’s robot, but the alliance as a whole, is critical in this game.


There also needs to be more caution while parking this season. If you race to the rendezvous point at the last second and are touching a hanging robot, your alliance loses that hang and the level points. You’ve cost your alliance at least 30 points (lose 25 from the hang, 15 from the level, and gain 10 from two parks) and a ranking point in the hasty pursuit of 5 points.

This is going to happen, and it will be painful. It can be mitigated in design by having the bottom of your robot clear 28" during your climb, allowing any low trench bots to safely park underneath. It can be mitigated on the field by hanging close to the middle of the switch, giving the other bot more space to park. However, even with these precautions, it may be prudent to tell teams to skip parking altogether if the alliance is going for the hanging RP.


And if you do have two bots in a level hang and the third comes over, extends their climber, touches the switch then fails, dies, or timer runs out and they remain touching the switch you do not get credit for being level so -15 points and no RP.

I just wanted highlight the specific text in the rules that people are alluding to in this thread:

Section 4.4.4

A ROBOT is considered HANGING if, five (5) seconds after the ARENA timer displays zero (0) followingTELEOP, it is fully supported (either directly or transitively) by its GENERATOR SWITCH.

A GENERATOR SWITCH is considered LEVEL if, five (5) seconds after the ARENA timer displays zero
(0) following TELEOP, both following criteria are met:
A. it is in the LEVEL range, and

If any robot touching the generator is not hanging, the switch can not be level.

Any robot not hanging touching a robot that is hanging runs a risk of cancelling the hang and the balance.

Teams are still going to insist on parking. In 2018 it was fairly common to see all three robots doing end game despite levitate having been played.

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This always bugged me. But in most cases there was nothing else for the 3rd robot to do if they had possession of the switches and all the power cubes in the vault. So, even though it was not adding any points, it really didn’t hurt the alliance unless they disturbed the other robots (which did happen sometimes). This year, you can continue to score power cells, so the alliance needs to discuss this possibility before the match and agree to what the endgame strategy will be. They also need to be prepared to communicate during the end game to make sure that alliance members are not doing things that could jeopardize the endgame points or RP.

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I suspect that a lot of teams were showing that they could do it for the scouts watching.

There’s a lot of reasons for this, but in general I think teams should climb as close to the center as possible. Ideally one climber right in the center and one to either side. Even if only 2 teams make their climb, this should still leave the bar close enough to balanced, and if a climber that starts near the middle fails dramatically and unbalances the bar, there is time for another climber to try and correct it by going outward.

Trying to climb is more important than achieving the balance, ranking point aside.

If the online tools are to be believed, and from what I can tell they are accurate, if two robots of almost any reasonable weight climb side by side at the center of the bar (and I don’t mean snug there is a lot of room for variance) your are almost guaranteed level.


If the tools are to be believed, one robot could literally be straddling the middle and the other could be biased immediately to one side and it will still be level.

A great difficulty with climbing at any particular location (center or otherwise) this year is the terribly poor viewing angle for drive teams as they line up. This is mitigable with cameras and programming solutions, but not all teams will come to competition prepared. The risk of losing all or most of your climb points (and ranking points) this year are so high that I am already talking with my drive team and onfield coach about how to make sure their alliance partners abort early if the risk is unacceptable.


yeah, it seems to me that the climb is one of the top priorities for development for that reason, so people are going to want to get a good mechanism for that.

BTW - as section 4.4.4 is currently worded, in theory it is legal to pull down on a robot to balance the switch.
The robot being pulled down on is fully supported by the generator switch.
The robot pulling down is not in contact with the generator switch.

On the contrary, that robot would no longer be considered hanging.

A robot clearly pulling down on another robot is not supporting it.

“Support” doesn’t necessarily mean “exerting a force opposite gravity”. It very well could mean “Being acted upon”. I’m pretty sure that if any outside source is contacting you for any reason then you’re not being FULLY supported by the switch.

If you are thinking of employing this strategy then I’d get your coach to submit a Q&A question for clarification.

I just said in theory.

My guess is planning to yank on other robots while hanging wouldn’t earn you any friends.

Seeing a lot of failed climbs the last two years and how a failed climb in a close match this year could mean going from 3RP to 0RP, I hope that we don’t see individuals lose their gracious professionalism.