H501 clarification

Could someone clarify H501 specifically the exception for major testing?

It lists major testing as an example of a scheduling conflict, so I think it would mean standardized testing like the SAT, ACT, etc. It’s basically saying that, say most of a team can’t make it to comp, another team could exhibit gracious professionalism and help fill in their drive team.


As far as I can tell, the blue box is there for cases of “our driver had to leave due to [reason] and we didn’t have enough time to swap drive team buttons around” or “none of our drivers could be here due to [reason], team #### will drive for us”. In the former case, it’s just easier to switch around the drive team buttons yourself. You can do so at any time outside of match play (and preferably not in queue, either). In the latter, I’m pretty sure you can talk to the head ref and explain and be okay with borrowed drivers.

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Historically, the exceptions are typically invoked when a team is able to load in, but for whatever reason do not have any team members, or perhaps a single mentor, at an event to participate in matches. Usually, the result is that a sister team or other friendly team will loan a driver to allow the team with absent students to play, with permission from the robot’s team.

So technically could a coach/mentor stand in as a driver if secondary driver has a “state math test” during a match?

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I think the mostly likely situation is that the coach/mentor would have a long chat with the head ref, event coordinator, etc. to figure out the best course of action.

This is pure speculation, but I imagine a coach would be allowed to drive for a match or two while the driver’s away, but not for a whole event. Also if the team can assign a different student driver, they’ll be expected to do that.

I would mean only a couple of matches while the driver took the test.

But thanks for the clarification.

If you are expecting that you or your team will be in this situation, I suggest you reach out to your event coordinator or other team-facing event authority as soon as possible, to work out the best course of action and eliminate surprises.

I have not had this experience, but I would not go in expecting a coach/mentor to be able to drive. Could you give us more info on what is driving this concern? Do you not have any students on the team to step in and replace the driver?

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Agreed! I would definitely not expect to have a post-high-school-age person be allowed to drive or act as human player. Technician, more likely than driver or HP, but still a hard sell. Reach out not only to the event, but to other teams attending the event, especially larger teams – all as early as possible if you expect to use this rule. I’m sure you can find some teams who’d love to not only help you out, but get some official match experience for their promising future drivers and human players and technicians. And if you can tell the event people up front (in addition to your extenuating circumstances) that “team ABCD has agreed to loan us Jill to drive and Jack as a human player and FGHI has agreed to loan us Hansel to operate manipulators and Gretel as technician for our matches until the drive team arrives,” I expect the sell will be easier than if you come off as unprepared. And if you start early enough, maybe you can even get your borrowed drive team a chance to practice working together driving your robot!

Technicians are able to be adults. However, there can only be ONE adult on the drive team!

All right, I’ll give what clarity I can.
H501 requires that the drive team (4 or 5 students, up to 1 mentor, see 6.6 first paragraph last sentence–also note that this gives some additional clarity to H501) be from the team that built the robot, and requires that only the students operate the robot (because adults can’t be Drivers or Human Players).

The exceptions are for cases where there’s an issue that prevents the team in question from fielding a (full) drive team on one or more days of the event. Testing is one; a more common one in my area is if a particular team’s religion precludes their participation on a given day, or on even rarer occasions a team’s robot makes it without the team. Severe weather or a bus breakdown can also factor in… Almost every time, the Event Coordinator (or Regional Director) will be in the loop that “team X can’t make day Y, so they’re adopting some of Team Z as their drive team for the day” (or whatever the circumstances happen to be).

Anyways, let’s work through your situation. It sounds like you (personally, and presumably a number of your teammates) have a state exam that would interfere with one of the days of the event. If your team can field 4 students and at least one mentor, the exception most likely does not apply. That’s why teams often have designated backup drivers, for the case where one or two members of the drive team have issues.

What happens, though, if the entire team (other than maybe 1 or 2 students) has that test? In that case, start talking to the event staff now, as well as teams that you know who will be at the event. Explain how long and who’s supplying the drive team. You should be able to scrounge up a temporary drive team to cover until everyone gets back, at which point collect the buttons back, thank your adopted team members profusely, and get back to what your team normally does at competition.

This is one of those times to remember that the rules are not meant to create unnecessary hurdles. Rules are in place to promote safety, fairness, and consistency. Yes, the game is mean to be challenging, but logistics and scheduling conflicts are not the right kinds of challenges.

FIRST wants you to play. Your local leadership wants you to play. I’m confident they’ll provide a suitable solution, so long as you’re proactive. Remember: the rules won’t afford leadership the opportunity to give you an unreasonable advantage over other teams, but they do enable them to afford you some leniency to reach a mutually satisfactory solution.