[FRC Blog] Timeout Process (and Playoff Tournament!) Review

There will be robot umpires almost certainly in the next 3 years. At the latest when the next CBA is negotiated in 5-6 years. It’s already being used well in the minors.


Oh god I value losing a match because of a missed pinning call it’s so exciting and totally important variability


I’m certain… it’s an issue at times. I’m not sure if video review would make things better or worse.

In particular, I’m reminded of a playoff match a number of years ago. An alliance lost, knocking them out of the bracket, and one of the students was distraught over it and arguing with the ref for quite some time - enough to delay the next match. Eventually we managed to get the student to move over to talk with me, allowing the head ref to start the next match. We talked through the next two matches until the student finally calmed down - it really wasn’t about the particular call they were complaining about, it was because they were a senior, at their last event of the year, and were suffering a big disappointment.

We all pour so much of ourselves into these robots throughout the build and competition seasons, and we have so many passionate, excited people. It’s tough to suffer that disappointment, and people can easily take things farther than appropriate. So, it happens. And like I said, I don’t know if video review would make these situations better or worse.




Wouldn’t this be a situation where video review would have made the process much more expedient?


It depends a lot on the call.

If it’s a judgement call, it will probably not help expedite the process. If it’s a clear-cut violation, it would help.

There’s also the question of “if we change something, does the outcome of the match change?”

It sounds like the situation Jon is referencing was a “I want to vent” situation. There are times when a student just wants to vent a bit, and maybe something sticks and they get a change in their favor (and then the opposite side students get the same desire…) Video review really won’t help those situations, IMO, because it doesn’t matter what’s seen or not, the student is still upset and wanting to vent. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with that (aside from delaying the next match), but it is one of the scenarios where video review won’t alleviate the problem.

As a counterpoint, and a place where video review might help that sort of thing, back in 2014 I was on a ref crew that (depending on point of view) either made a no-call or missed a call for a zone possession. This of course had an effect on the score; the team argued for something like 3 matches that they had the points. HR polled his crew; 3 zebras (of 8, we were overmanned but undermanned) said “we didn’t see it”, HR told the team “look, my crew didn’t see you guys get it, and that’s from 3 refs watching specifically for that”. If there’d been a review, HR could have pulled up the video, said “no evidence”, and the team would… well, I don’t think they’d have been happy, but they’d have gotten a faster response.

I hope that this team is able to establish rules that actually clearly define a process broadly similar to what the community expects and is already used to, while being fair and enforceable, rather than simply “clarifying” the current written rules which are nowhere near what actually happens at most events. Or if everyone involved decides that the current rules actually do need to be enforced to the letter, then that better be made crystal clear to everyone from the beginning and done consistently.

(I was encouraged to post here instead of in DMs.)

The existing process for calling backup robots-- what good is it?

  • 4-team alliances are great, as long as the 4th is able to feel like an integral part of the alliance.

    • The rules under 11.9.2 4 ROBOT ALLIANCES are good as-is, except that they should apply throughout the season, instead of just at the Championship
    • The drive coach of the 4th team should have a place behind the glass
    • We can change the tournament format to accommodate different event sizes
      • At normal sized events, there should be 6 alliances of 4 teams each. Round robin determines the finalists.
      • At very large events, there could be 8 or more alliances of 4 teams each. The finalists could be determined via traditional tournament structure or round robin.
      • At very small events, there could be 4 alliances of 4 teams each. The finalists could be determined via traditional tournament structure or round robin.
  • If backup bots are to stay, I strongly recommend we implement the Backup Box

    • Ideally the Backup Box should take the form of a big turntable like you’d see on a game show