Getting stuck on game pieces: Then vs. Now

I’ve noticed something interesting while watching many of the event livestreams this weekend. Robots are running over cargo, bottoming out and getting stuck, and racking up penalties for possession fouls. The part that struck me the most was the similarity to FRC 2016 Stronghold. Teams in 2016 constantly ran over boulders and were stuck there until an alliance partner could free them. The difference is that during the 2016 season, I didn’t see teams penalized for “possessing more than 1 game piece”

My question to you is, why did FIRST change the vocabulary in the rulebook this year to penalize this situation, and how will this rule change affect gameplay the rest of the season?

Here’s the big difference in the wording:


G38 ROBOTS may not control more than one (1) BOULDER at any time.
Violation: FOUL per extra BOULDER

Examples of interaction with BOULDERS that are not “control” include, but are not limited to:
A. “bulldozing” (inadvertent contact with BOULDERS while in the path of the ROBOT moving about the FIELD)


One GAME PIECE at a time. ROBOTS may not have greater-than-momentary or repeated control, i.e. exercise greater-than-momentary or repeated influence, of more than one (1) GAME PIECE at a time, either directly or transitively through other objects. A GAME PIECE that is at least partially supported by a ROCKET or CARGO SHIP is not considered controlled by the ROBOT.

It was easy for refs to see teams stuck on a boulder as “inadvertent contact while moving around the field”, even though I don’t think anyone in their right mind would label it as “bulldozing”, using the dictionary definition of the word. There isn’t that wiggle room in the rules this year - the “greater-than-momentary” part is probably intended to take the place of the bulldozing example from 2016… and it does, if the intent really is “bulldozing”, and not what we extended the definition of it to mean that year.

That said, I would be in favor of a change that exempts this sort of unintentional, temporary, and ultimately harmful (even without the penalty) “control”.


Most of the time it seems “unavoidable” (I cringe at that word, because unless it happens in sandstorm, it’s totally avoidable), but it seems so common, and carries a potentially game losing penalty. The highest score I saw in week one was based simply off a team getting stuck on a cargo and receiving no help from alliance partners.

I assume you are in legal possession of 1 game piece. You get hung up on CARGO. Shortly thereafter you trigger a G4 foul due to controlling 2 game pieces. What is the duration between successive fouls being assigned? It does not currently seem to be specified in the manual, how is it being reffed?

My thinking is the coach should be directing you to dump your game piece and deal with being hung up. There is no foul for dumping the game piece as long as you don’t launch a HATCH more than 3’. As soon as you dump the game piece you are legal again and can get increasingly enthusiastic to free yourself. What am I missing here?

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Wait a second. Are you saying that you’ve seen events where referees were giving penalties to a robot that was stuck on top of a cargo ball, because the robot happened to be carrying a game piece at the time?!?

There’s no way that is the intent of the rule; I’m astonished that a referee would be calling a penalty on a robot that is stuck on a cargo ball (kind of like the inverse of a turtle on its back.) Makes “kicking you while you are down” seem benign.

I sure would hope that FIRST head referees would grant a “pass” for such a situation. I suppose as long as teams know they need to drop the game piece in their possession when they get stuck on a cargo ball, it’s less of an issue, but still…


Not all hatch panel devices will be able to dump a game piece that easily. Many depend on some amount of force from the velcro on the rocket/cargo ship to assist with it.

The point of the thread is that similar situations have been handled differently in the past. And there is precedence for correcting this sort of thing after week-1 - Back in 2010, there was a limit on how far into the robot a ball could extend. After robots started coming over the bumps and landing on balls (between weeks 1 and 2, I believe), FIRST changed that rule to add " Incidental protrusions of the BALL within this boundary will not be penalized if the TEAM corrects the condition before resuming game play." - essentially meaning you just had to get off the ball in order not to be penalized.


One of the arguments I have seen for calling this a foul is that even though you are stuck on it, you are shielding that game piece from the opposing alliance. You are effectively giving them access to one less piece where you already have one in your possession.

While your point about the limitations of some mechanisms is true, that part of it has always been under team control. It was a known issue that you could not have a deflated ball stuck on your bot and also have a carried game piece. That situation drove us to decide that we needed a powered HATCH manipulator so we could “eject” both the CARGO and the HATCH, should it be required. The question is how long do you have to ditch your game piece before getting the first foul, and what is the duration between successive fouls?

Having said that, I would wholeheartedly agree with a rule clarification that does not massively penalize teams that are trying to get unstuck off of a CARGO, while they are carrying a game piece. Give them the foul when they get stuck and leave it at that. It should still escalate if they manage to score the carried game piece while stick stuck or generate more fouls if they continue to acquire and score game pieces.

How is getting stuck on a CARGO, any different than getting a CARGO stuck in your robot (which is Example 2 of the Blue Box for G4)? That accumulates a foul per game piece acquired, with no repeat per unit time.

We had two penalties called on us and our partners in a semifinals match. I guess you can go either way on it but looking back on the videos I am shocked at the two penalties called on the blue alliance for possession of two game pieces. One on 3309 at the 52 second mark and one on 294 at the 1:19 mark. The one on 3309 is a rock and a hard place because if they had ejected their ball they would have shot it out of the arena which is a penalty as well. I am also shocked at the call on 294 as the robot never had possession of two game pieces but made can be interpreted as inadvertent contact with a bumper.

That is how the game goes and our alliance definitely could have scored more so to say we lost that match because of penalties would be wrong but it sure didnt help.


Hmm. Reading the rule in question, G4, “One GAME PIECE at a time. ROBOTS may not have greater-than-momentary or repeated control, …of more than one (1) GAME PIECE at a time…”

From my watching of that video, there’s no way that 3309 has control of that game piece on the floor.

Rather, it looks to me that the game piece has control of the robot. :wink:

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With the two penalties linked to and specially the 3309 at 52 seconds every Hatch panel on the ground could incur a penalty. Even more so if its in front of a scoring or loading position. I have yet to see a manipulator purposely built to control the ball or Hatch under the robot. The referees have a hard job but some over abuse usually a rule or two.

So we move on and hope it gets corrected before the next event.

Not necessarily. I think Ideas on how to face this problem are welcome in this thread.

This was also similar in 2017 Steamworks, although it was another goal to pick fuel from the ground as this year does but altogether it was just a big obstacle that could be dumped on the field that many robots ran over or pushed around. More so they changed the rules from 2016,2017,2018 because they knew simply that Cargo could be pushed around and could be construed as an extra game piece a robot is carrying but in reality it’s just another alternation as @Jon_Stratis mentions.

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