Is this a red card?

I mean, it is currently escalatory. It’s a base tech foul+yellow card.

The problem is that tipping generally results in “unable to drive” being the robot state. Add tech, yellow becomes red. (And the definition of “unable to drive” is way too broad across G205 and G206, but that’s a different discussion.)

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It is escalatory in theory but not in practice.


I think this rule falls into a wider, unfortunate category of penalizing teams for things that they (a) have little control over, and (b) occur during what I would describe as “normal” match play.

FRC is a (robot) contact sport. Robots are moving at high speed across the field, and interactions between them are expected. Over a decade ago, FRC started requiring bumpers, and while I wasn’t there for the change in 2008, I expect part of the reason they stuck around was to “force” teams to be less susceptible to damage. Even in the manual: “FIRST Robotics Competition can be a full-contact competition and may include rigorous game play. While this rule aims to limit severe damage to ROBOTS, teams should design their ROBOTS to be robust.

This year’s game encourages robots to speed, as fast as possible, from the loading zone back to their community. Once the pieces on the field are exhausted, it is your only opportunity to get more pieces, and attempt to score them via the game’s main point-earning opportunity. The mirrored field layout even explicitly creates a cross-point at the mid-field where robot interactions will occur.

There is a reason in sports there are “no-calls” or in F1 there are “racing incidents”. Certain behaviors are expected in normal match play, and sometimes those behaviors lead to bad things happening. You can take steps to avoid those bad things happening to you, but it is unfair to directly penalize them because doing so breaks the thesis of the game itself.

FIRST (rightly) sets out to reduce the chance of “feel bad” moments in games. Having your robot disabled by tipping or damage feel bad, obviously. But receiving a penalty for doing the actions that the game structure incentivizes you to do also feels bad. Robots must speed quickly across the field. Robots must extend outside their frame perimeter near other robots. It’s the core of the game.

Most of the time, hitting another robot while driving is fine, and teams push each other around all the time. Most of the time, briefly tapping another robot inside their frame perimeter while you try to get a game piece near them is fine, and teams often do this with nothing more than a small penalty, if the refs even see it. Truthfully, you can’t back off in under a second if your opponent starts tipping. You can’t carefully miss some wiring on the low, outside superstructure of someone else’s robot. It’s just random chance if the tip actually happens or if damage is actually caused. Making penalties for things that rarely happen during normal play doesn’t protect other teams from more serious harm, it just makes the game (hyperbolically) penalty roulette for the team that unintentionally caused it.

Assessing intent realistically seems like the only option, and Jon’s comments above seem like great additions to the rules. FIRST has tried to move away from intent-based rules in the past because it leaves room for referee interpretation, and every referee interprets differently. While a noble goal, I think there is a reason that every major sporting event with physical interaction of players still has rules which involve assessing intent: it’s the only way you can do it. The solution isn’t more concrete rules, it’s better guidelines and training.


That ain’t it, at least not fully. You need to go back a few years before then.

In 2005, a large number of teams playing offense had sloped sides on their robots, etending to near the floor. This had emerged as the best way to defend against defense. After a “mutual” tip resulted in a 0-0 tie in playoffs, and a few other incidents, HQ opted to ban wedges. This of course prompted complaints from offense-minded teams being consulted, about how any team can build a battering ram with wheels and a drivebase and weight and wreck said offense bots.

Bumpers were allowed previously, but taking a size/weight penalty wasn’t worth it for most teams.

HQ’s solution was to allow bumpers, with extra size/weight allowances, and ban slopes below a certain height. Within 2 years, most teams used bumpers, and HQ made them mandatory for 2008. Red/blue was a 2010 addition.


Did not know that bit of history, makes sense. Thank you!

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By reading the rules, g206 (what it was called as) says ‘Don’t tip or entangle’. It was definitely both, in my opinion. It also looks like 1. blue went out of their way, and 2. blue could have avoided it. They were going against the wall a few seconds earlier, and pretty slow, so they could have avoided it. They wouldn’t have gone along their desired path, but it looks like they could have avoided it. It’s also from the point of view of the ref, so there’s that (unless any refs would like to say I’m wrong in my judgment).

Lastly, red would have won anyways, as it was 46 to 80 at the end of the match.

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They “went out of their way”? Yes, it’s called defense. You’re allowed to play defense.


And short of backing up…they would have gone into the community area to avoid the interaction. And while 5 point penalty is better than what happened…and possibly would not have changed the results…defense was going on a lot. Even by the tipped bot. The rule is murky and tends to favor the highly unstable bots. The announcer didn’t help much. It was not a hard hit as he stated. The intake had just came down and was going for a cube. When the “offending” blue bot was leaving the community for defense or going back into their area in scoring.

If you look at how Blue was playing previous to the collision, their role was clearly to push/bop cubes into their team’s protected areas. So to me it looks like two robots both going for the same cube. I don’t know if that’s offense or defense, but it looks like ordinary game play to me, not an intentional act to tip their opponent.


That’s one teaching point from this situation. When our robot tipped at CVR, I made much the same point to our students, and they’ve definitely prioritized adding ballast before our next competition.

On the flipside, the other teaching point is that as a defensive bot, you should avoid driving in ways that a ref could interpret as causing your opponent to tip, even if an after-the-fact review on CD reveals the ref made a questionable call. This instance seems closer to the definitely not intentional side, but ultimately there’s a lot of room for interpretation in the the current rules.

On the whole, I wouldn’t like for the rules to change in a way that makes defense even more prevalent than it is now. Obviously it’s not ideal that a team can get a red card based off a capricious, split-second decision, but in my opinion it also wasn’t ideal at CVR how many playoff robots had the role of “be a swerve drive and run into opposing robots”. I think any change to the rules should be judged based off it’s overall effect on FRC, not just be narrowly tailored to solve the problem of random red cards.

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Good one :+1:


This is exactly what happened.

I’m a mentor for 7454 and was drive team coach that match. The directive was to remove all game pieces from the open field. You can see us sweeping them out prior to the hit. We went after the piece the same time 4272 was going for it and their intake hit our pyramid driving it up the side and flipping it. I’m fairly certain bumpers never touched.

I really hate that we were responsible for another robot going over. That is not something that any team wants to experience. We apologized to 4272. It messes with you. The driver felt horrible and did not perform the rest of the match or the rest of the day. We felt like outcasts for being “that team”. After watching the video, I’m pretty certain there was nothing we could have done to prevent this.

Here are the wheel marks from the intake left on the lexan. It drove right up our side.


I’d also like to take a moment to show some love for 4272. Last year at state they gave us details on their swerve drive. They gave us a bill of materials and even access to their 3d printed spark mounts that we are using on our robot today. Without their guidance and support we’d not be anywhere near the “monster” that we are today. They are a class-act in FIN district!

No hard feelings at all.



I do realize that this thread has a solution (posts 32 and 33), but I stand corrected:

Also, it happened so fast that it’s nearly impossible to tell whose fault it was (in this case, no ones).

Lastly, they should allow teams members (such as drive team members or technician) to explain how it happened, as long as they know exactly what happened (Like in this case).


Y’all are a class act! When the video was posted…to me…it was innocent contact. Not blatant…not a hard hit…not “I am going to tip that bot over”. It was two bots going after the same piece. Nothing more…nothing less.

It “hurts” when the victim was a team that has helped you. I hope your bonds, friendship, and mentorship continue to grow after this…and make y’all stronger!

I personally think that in the heat of the moment, the announcer exaggerated the “impact” between y’all. And POSSIBLY influenced the decision…I am not sure. I think they should address this in the rules before the next match…or at least before state competitions.

I wish you and your team the best in the future!

Hi! 4272 driver here!
It did all happen very fast and I can attest that we were just going for the same thing at the same time.
I’d like to send some love back to 7454 (please let us know if you need anything, and best of luck at Greenwood!) as well as the announcer and refs who all worked super hard at the event.


@Karaoke You did an excellent job out there. I was glad to see you guys take the win. Well deserved.