Driver & Human Safety

So I know this issue has come up in several threads, and I will reference this paticular rule discussion.

But I wanted to start a new thread, as I felt mine is more geared towards the safety of drivers and human players.

I am starting to understand the rule that was referenced above. While I think it is now just listed as a safety penalty, and the robot gets disabled, I think they are being more lenient than was expected (ie if the tetra is just barely over the station, a lot of times they could get away with it). But I am starting to see why the safety rule was put in.

However, this weekend at Toronto, I was absolutely appalled at the implementation of this rule. A team from the opposite alliance drove over to our side of the field to score a tetra which was poised very high in the air… They swung around and the tetra went flying off over the barrier and the corner of it hit our driver in the head, and proceeded to fall off of our coach. It was sickening to watch them duck and cover themselves as they realized what was going on. I watched as the ref noticed it, went to tell another ref, and then had to run to the other side of the field and make the human player step off the pad to disable it! By this time, the other robot was already all the way on the other side of the field! I actually felt angry that FIRST didnt have a better safety precaution.

Another time, at the Buckeye regional, I watched on the sidelines as our alliances human player ran out to his robot at the far loading zone, and as he was running back, our robot was pulling into the close loading zone and almost speared him. I know our drivers probably never saw him, and the human player was so focused on getting back to the pad, and staying in the lines, but I couldnt believe how dangerous it was. I wondered why FIRST didnt make the human players going to the far loading station run a U shape around the close loading zone… instead they get crammed into the same space.

I guess my question in the end, is where is FIRST’s master kill switch for the robots? At our mini-scrimmage before ship, we had master switches for every robot. Each team had one at their station, and there were “refs” watching each alliance with three switches in their hands. If there was any question of safety, the robot would be disabled immediately… why on earth doesnt FIRST have something like this???

FIRST does have master kill switches but just as you said it is hard for your driver to see it is also hard for the refs and field crew to see everything as well. FIRST did ask for team’s human players to where helmets if they liked and other precautions but by the time a field attendant and/or ref sees this unsafe condition it is to late. FIRST should maybe have changed the path of the runner but they did provide a big enough box so they could run around any other robot as required. Also at our driver meetings they asked us to try and keep the robot as far into the field as possible so they do take safety in high regard but they also do not want to drastically change the game if it is unnecessary to do so.

This is all so true. When you are driving behind a lexan wall you have very little depth perception and its very had to cap on the opposite side of the field. It causes drivers to sometimes to too far and go over the wall of the drivers station. I believe FIRST should respond to this. I think they never thought robots would be quite so high and tall with large arms. In the Florida regional one team had a boom so long they hit the speakers and almost took out everyone doing scoring and video. I believe FIRST should respond and put a cover over the top of the drivers station. This would eliminate the problem of accidentally dropping tetras onto the drivers. Nothing can be done for human players. No real protection can be gained for them. FIRST put in penaltys to protect human players in the loading zone. But that does not mean they are safe. This is one or the most dangerous games for drivers and HP’s. FIRST I am sure will take this into account in future years with game designs.

I have a hard time believing that. Especially after last year’s robots. This wall isn’t really that much taller than the goals, so you have to expect verticality.
We can just hope this kind of thing will be addressed in future games since safety is a primary concern. I’ve read these stories about people getting hurt - don’t like it.

FIRST is really in a tough spot. Saftey is the #1 priority for them, but they flawed the design of the field and would essentially be hurting teams that built their robots to play the game to stack high… I haven’t seen this rule enforced, I only hope that the officals tell the HP to step off the pad if a tetra breaks the plane and IF the robot corrects itself and becomes safe, would allow that team to continue.

I really think we need some mass e-mails to FIRST asking them to put protection over the driver stations. Even just like 2 poles the same height as the plexy glass at the left and right far ends of the driver station with saftey net attached to the top would solve the problem… (May not sound very clear because I’m bad at explaining things)

I somehow doubt FIRST thought someone was going to make an arm that was 25 feet long, high enough to hit the speakers and lights in the Central Florida Arena.

Do the math, tetra is almost 2.5 feet high, hold it from the top, center goal is 7 feet to it’s peak, add 4 to 6 inches to peak for every tetra on the stack. I have seen pictures of 8 tetras on side goals. (7 + 2.5 + 4) yes it only 14 feet, but that’s still almost 7 feet over the drivers wall. It’s a hard thing to miss if you want to have a bot that can put the last tetra on the center in the last few seconds. Netting is a good idea!!! How many drive teams have to get hit with tetras before this little item is added?

Speaking on behalf of myself as a referee at 2 regional competions this year for Triple Play (Philadelphia and Pittsburgh) SAFETY, was the number one concern of every referee. A lot of the penalties occur due to “unsafe play.” Because there is involvement between the human players and the robots in a a high speed environment where anything can happen certain penalties occur and are unavoidable but it is also the human players and robot controllers and operators to paying attention to what is going on around them. This type of involvement will increase the safety of play.

This is an issue that has been raised at every regional this year, Triple Play is a high speed game which robots often are dangling tetras at a very high speed, sometimes having seemingly no control of the tetra it self, that should have been a penaty and an imediate disablement…

However, the correct manner about doing this, is the referee (discluding the head referee) see something that is a a possibly a disable they have to contact the referee on their side of the field in order to order the kill because the head ref calls the disable. There were 2 refs that stood in the middle of the playing field, the head ref and the assistant. There was 1 ref in each end-zone, one in each loading station and if they saw something they would go to the nearest ref with a walkie talkie to order the diablement. It worked well there and we made the right calls. That it how it was run… in a situation like that the ref should have gone straight to the bot and disabled it. It is very hard to make a decision like that because it could change the outcome of the match. The robot would recieve any points after the decision was called (not on the other side of the field where it was disabled) so the points scored byt that team after the call would not count. If that makes you feel any better

This is a good idea…go with it…propose it to FIRST…they check these boards and will hear that im sure

The only real way to make the drive teams more safe is to make the operator stations more protected. You can have all the emergency stop/disable switches in the world, but they don’t do any good if they kill the robot after the tetra is already over the wall.

To me, the best solution is some sort of ceiling for the operator’s station, because this would reduce the impact on the way the game is currently being played and increase safety. The same tetra-breaking-the-plane interpretation could be called, but at least the tetra wouldn’t hit somebody as easily. Unfortunately, this solution would also reduce spectator visibility.

The rules as they stand now in practice only discourage going over the wall, they don’t prevent it. The way I see it, the only way to prevent injury is to make it physically safer.

sigh I hoped that people had forgotten about that incident.

Since I never really had the chance to do this in the first place, I’d like to formally apologize for what happened during that round with our arm while I was driving. The arm accidently got stuck, and we couldn’t retract it using our controls or manually on the field (this was a practice round). We never did touch the speakers, but the arm was hovering over the judges and scoring. Being the first round that I had actually driven in the arena before, and being a little nervous of the arm at the same time, I forgot the E-Stop button to my left. The arm length was actually a little over 13 feet, but the tall UCF speakers were very low (we nearly hit them for real on the way out trying to leave the field). Again, I’m very sorry about what happened, and I hope that it doesn’t leave a bad mark on my team from that incident.

I saw many similar incidents at the Las Vegas regional where arms were swung outside of the field and came close to refs and other personnel. The combination of long, extending arms and people close to the field working the reloaders and such makes for a dangerous combination.

A huge problem is that you cannot disable the robots through software this year (at least at the three regionals I’ve been to) I was a referee at two, and by the time the decision is made that a robot is unsafe and needs to be disabled, by the time a referee notifies the head ref, and by the time a ref gets to the drivers station and makes sure they are disabling the right bot, and finally disabling it, half the match is over, or the whole thing is.

An arm doesn’t even have to be that long to be dangerous. We have an arm with a 5’ upright, and a 5’ boom. But I don’t know how many times I cringed as the arm swung with a tetra around it in Philly. The judges and scoring operators were far enough away, and the refs were paying enough attention to keep back. But there were many times when a camera man had to duck, move, or a ref had to tell them to watch it.

I think that in Philly there were a few incidents where I was nervous about other teams bots stacking on a goal right in front of our drivers station. Once I think that they dropped it but it was kind of between the teams so just a little step to the side and everyone was clear. But it was still a bit unnerving. A net or a cover of some sort would definitely be helpful when it came to preventing things like this.

I feel like I’m repeating myself. I replied to a thread concering the girl from Gus Team 228 who got hit at UTC. I was even quoted on it and ill quote myself. “Injuries can come out of no where. I know this is only a robotics competition but the injury doesnt care where or what you are doing.”

This post is about the girl if you hadn’t seen it. Im pretty sure it has video of the accident too.


I swear this thread is what caused the change in the driver stations! Yay for FIRST

Haha, yeah. I was pleased with FIRST’s implementation of a ceiling. They also did a good job adjusting the rules first thing in the driver’s meeting.

Kudos to FIRST for improving safety and gameplay at the Championship :]