Legality of bright lights for vision processing

While absently reading through some CD threads about vision processing while I procrastinating studying for exams, I came across some talk about the need to be able to control bright lights such as the pretty common halo rings as per R07. (See here).

R07-M states that examples of a prohibited item include:

High intensity light sources used on the ROBOT (e.g. super bright LED sources marketed as ‘military grade’ or ‘self-defense’) may only be illuminated for a brief time while targeting and may need to be shrouded to prevent any exposure to participants. Complaints about the use of such light sources will be followed by re-inspection and possible disablement of the device

I did a little digging and found that this example in the bluebox for the rule stating “ROBOT parts shall not be made from hazardous materials” is new for 2017. From 2008-2016, the closest example was R(02, 08, or 09*)-A, (Which is still present in 2017). This rule states:

Shields, curtains, or any other devices or materials designed or used to obstruct or limit the vision of any DRIVERS and/or COACHES and/or** interfere with their ability to safely control their ROBOT**

(Fun side note: The only difference in wording in this rule in the last 9 years is the way the human drivers/coaches/etc are described)

Since this is a new rule change, I’m worried about all the teams who use lights such as the LED halos from superbrightleds, including my team. Since the only relay allowed in the manual is the now discontinued Spike Relay (per R34-B), is there a way this rule can be enforced that will allow robots to continue to perform the tasks they need to perform? How can we even make use of the retroflective vision targets in a way that complies to these rules? I know that my team has a couple of Spikes kicking around so we’re going to use them in case this rule does present any issues, but what are teams that don’t have any Spikes going to do? Do you think that this rule will even be enforced since FIRST isn’t exactly presenting a solution? The closest thing I can think of as a workaround is using the PCM solenoid outputs with the PCM on 12V but that sounds pretty illegal to me. Unless I’m misinterpreting R35? But even so, I don’t think the PCM would supply enough amperage for multiple LED rings in addition to several solenoids, I don’t know what Festo solenoids tend to draw but the 60mm green LED rings that my team uses draw 170mA each, and the PCM only supplies 500mA across all solenoid ports. Also, the problem of 12V vs 24V might just result in 2 PCMs, one for solenoids and one for lights, if this is the setup to go with… I’m not sure. Kinda just typing as I think and rambling. I’ll end this off here.

After a little discussion here I’m going to post on the Q&A but I wanted to just get a broader idea of what the general community is thinking in regard to this rule before I ask, rather than just my own concerns. What are your guys’ thoughts?

*Fun side note 2: The rule about hazardous materials was R02 from 2008-2011, R08 from 2012-2015, R07 in 2016, and R09 in 2017.

A single 60 mm superbrightleds angel eye ring light isn’t going to be confused as military grade or self defense. This Tactical Grade flashlight is rated for 1800 lumens. The ring led is 69 lumens.

You are misinterpreting R34-B. A LED ring isn’t an actuator, it is a custom circuit (See R49). There are no rules prohibiting using a custom circuit (an off the shelf relay) to control another custom circuit (the LED ring).

I’m aware of a lot of methods to measure the brightness of a flashlight… its military-graded-ness, selfdefense-ness, or tactical-ness is not one which I’m familiar with.

I had quite a chuckle when I read that line from the GDC. Lumen. Its not hard :smiley:

Oh I see, yeah I totally misread R34 and the fact that it’s talking about solely actuators, that’s my bad.

I’m still not totally convinced about the LED’s brightness though, I know in my experience looking right at them hurt an awful lot and causes ‘floaters’ in your vision for a while afterwards so I make a point of telling everyone to not look right at them when on, and to leave them off whenever possible. In that other thread I linked they were discussing the ways that looking at it can cause serious discomfort and whether or not that fell under this category.

In addition, I found a couple flashlights that, while not military grade, are listed as “Tactical flashlights” and are as low as 130 lumens(Might be pushing it here, people can call anything whatever they want) and 230 lumens. We use the more dense black motherboard halos, which have an intensity on the ballpark of 100lumens… idk. Without better definition in the manual I feel like the LED halo lights that people use could very well fall under “High intensity light sources” (Note that it says “For example, LEDs marketed as military grade or self defence”, those are just examples).

I’m not sure. I feel like an LRI could very easily interpret those rules as deeming the LED halos too bright, they are sold by “Super bright LEDs” :stuck_out_tongue: . I think we really need to give it a hard measurement in lumens, it’s pretty subjective as is.

I do agree that it wouldn’t be hard to turn them on or off if needed though, you’re right I totally skipped over the “Actuator” part in R34.

Yep, a quantitative measurement such as Lumen Output is best. Otherwise as a rule of thumb, any flashlight which uses 18650’s or another type of rechargable battery in stock configuration is probably going to be too bright.

In 2016 our team and several others had to tone down our led rings after complaints at competitions.

I did too. I’m also not sure how this is going to be enforced, which is really what OP is getting at. My guess is that it will be enforced unevenly at different events and depending on which Inspectors are looking and which teams are using the lights along with if anyone at the event complains.

I’m not worried. Our X-Ray laser is pulsed by its very nature (and also phased in the 40W range) so obviously we’re only running it when we need to track vision targets. As a bonus the targets (and the students) tend to glow in the dark for a bit afterwards. But not glow too brightly because that wouldn’t be safe.

I suppose you’ll mill your robot out of a solid block of 7071 aluminum?
edit: And move at 154 fps with decagon wheels?

And look similar to this:

Living tissue over a triple-armored hyper-alloy combat chassis, of course.

edit: And move at 154 fps with decagon wheels?

And look similar to this:

Eek. I’ve obviously said too much already.

Just something to note with any kind of bright lights. Last year we used a flashlight (that was always on) to aim our shooter, and we had some teams complain that it was blinding them when it would shine through the opposing driver stations. The head ref came up to our pit and told us we needed to have the option to switch the light on and off, and that we would have to have the light off anytime we would be aiming towards the opposing driver station. Because of this, it’s probably best to have an option to turn your light on and off from your driver station.

The general rule that I see at events is that it is fine (within reason) until another team or volunteer complains that the lights are distracting or otherwise interfering with their ability to do their job.

We had a team a few years back with three concentric rings of super bright LEDs. This is very overkill for the purposes of vision tracking, and it was very bright. They were warned very early on that if there were complaints, they would have to take some rings off or find another way to dim them. After a match of blinding the refs, they were asked to tone the lights down.

On the flip side, plenty of teams had ring lights pointed in the same general direction that were fine because they were dimmer.

I don’t think putting a strict lumen cap in the rules is a good solution, because a lot of whether or not it is okay has to do with the positioning. You won’t cause any problems with a spotlight pointed at the floor, but it becomes a problem if it is angled towards drivers.

Working on how to interface this with a spike right now:

Not so much a “new rule” as a further clarification of an existing rule.

As flashlights became popular for aiming, the existing rule about “interfere with the operation of other ROBOTS” was extended to cover the flashlights.

The new requirement for “may only be illuminated for a brief time while targeting” helps to tell teams in advance what they will have to do, rather than find out at the competition. In the past: If the team painted the Scoring Table or Drivers, they were then warned to control the flashlight in future matches (turn on for targeting only). Now, they have to have the control ability at the time of inspection.

I’d like to know if the green LED rings from FIRST choice count as high intensity light sources. That would alleviate my concern.

While I don’t know which team you recently using the three concentric LED rings last year, I can say that whether or not three rings is overkill depends upon what they were doing. However, given that shooting last year was restricted to the courtyard, I’m pretty sure that three rings of the typical “bright green LEDs” as are available on FIRST Chocie were overkill for the 2016 FRC game.

However, in the 2013 FRC game (frisbees), we used vision targeting for our full-court shooter. With the intensity of light (or other linear waves) radiating from a point source being inversely proportional to the square of the distance of the source, an object twice as far away receives (and retroreflects) only one quarter of the energy emitted. For our full-court shooter that year (with the LEDs nearly 50 feet from the target), two rings weren’t enough to reliably illuminate the target, and we had to resort to three rings.

We don’t see a need to use three rings this year, either.

However, I’m very curious as to if a two-ring light source of the same 60mm and 80mm green LED rings that have been regularly used for vision processing since 2010 will be considered to be “too bright” this year unless turned on / off when aiming.

We’ve had our “green LED rings” on all the time in recent years, in order to allow confirmation of the vision processing functions while the robot is disabled. If the robot must be enabled for the “green LED rings” to be illuminated, then there is not a convenient way to confirm the vision processing is working correctly while the robot is being set up for a match.