Teams storing and shooting more than 5 balls, but no penalty points?

Hi, I noticed while watching videos of 118 competing that in several matches, they were storing and shooting up to 7 balls, yet they received no penalty points. I can understand that it is hard for refs to keep track of all the balls on the field, but I feel as if this is a problem that some teams might choose to exploit.


Can you count that fast without stopping it? There is a reason to make an opaque hopper.


This seems to be the match in question

Edit: ( ) Exact Time

Interesting… If I remember correctly, its a foul per Power Cell right?

It’s supposed to be 3 points per ball, but there are 0 penalties points for that match.
We also had an match where we stored 6 balls in our robot by mistake, and when we launched them all out, we didn’t get penalized. We don’t have a hopper anywhere near as fast as 118 anyways.


So does it seem to be ruled on what the intentions of the robot were? or the Refs just generally dont pay that much attention to how many balls you take compared to other things? Your thoughts?

I hope nobody is intentionally holding and scoring six or more cells. I had a parent bring up they saw 1986 do it a couple times. Here is one of them:

But watching I just see a mistake (going with a good intake into a bundle of balls) and not some strategic plan to hold above the allowed amount. Still, they weren’t penalized for it, and you’d prefer it gets called so others aren’t tempted to do it as a way to cycle faster.


I just don’t think they noticed. For a team like robonauts, it’s almost impossible to count that many balls that quickly. The only way I could see the rule being inforced would be to have a ref on each robot counting how many balls the robot intakes before shooting. Other than that there is nothing stopping teams with incredibly fast indexing from getting 6-7 balls per cycle.


Exploitation of this as a strategy would very likely lead to a yellow card, per G6:

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My 2 cents after watching that section of the video a bunch of times. Their hopper shields things enough that no one was likely able to look into it and count. And the ref was as they drove up looking somewhere else and then at the power port. Having already been to one event and seen just how fast balls are moving by the time the ref knew there might be an issue he likely had no way to confirm where exactly every ball came from. And with the other blue robot in a place where a ball could have come from and likely looked like a similar trajectory… too fast to call?

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While this is true, it’s clear right now that the refs aren’t looking for this issue, or just cannot determine how many balls are being launched. Even if a team is caught once, it could be very difficult to hold them accountable each and every cycle. At what point does the ref give a yellow-card instead of just issuing the penalty?

I know our team was very explicit in their hopper size and design to not hold more than 5 balls. This could be the first indication to a ref to look for more than 5 balls. Maybe something provided at inspection to field judges to monitor more closely?

But, all said, it is very hard for a ref to count with such high speeds in the shooting.

My favorite thing is when the game announcer is counting “they shoot, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5!, and mumbling” It seems to be more common with loose hopper robots instead of the uptake/hopper combo many tall bots are using.


I was surprised this year to see the absence of any clauses along the lines of “Teams should be ready to demonstrate that their robot, whether by software or mechanically, cannot hold more than 5 balls.” I don’t think it would be reasonable to implement this rule now, but it would be interesting to think about how robot designs would change in that circumstance.

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It really depends on the ref. We had one of the fastest intakes and shooters at our week 1 comp. Eventually we overloaded the loading station and had a bunch of balls waiting on the ground got us. That’s when I noticed one ref would watch while we loaded off the ground, and then keep watching until we shot so he could count balls. Only then would he look away to the rest of the field.

When has anything happened analogous to this in previous seasons?

2006 limited the exit velocity of poof balls - and teams could’ve been called out on shooting too fast
2008 verified robots couldn’t extend larger than an 80 inch hoop (mechanically limited or software limited)

I’m extremely glad no such rule exists. It would probably cause more confusion and drama than the limelight situation did. Practically every robot design I’ve seen so far could accommodate more than 5 power cells and very few of those designs could be altered so that it’s completely impossible for the robot to ever control more than 5. It would be extremely difficult for teams and inspectors to follow a rule like that in my opinion. I feel much better just leaving this rule to be enforceable by teams and refs even if a few missed violations occur.


This is by far one of the worst rules I could imagine FIRST adding to this game. There is a huge design space that would be completely removed from play. Any robot with a hopper would not be allowed to compete at all. FIRST should never, and I repeat, never limit design to this extent.


Neither of those limit gamepiece capacity.


They were rules that were nearly impossible for the refs to call on the field and had to be demonstrated off the field.

Edit -
2013 limited robots to 4 discs at a time but picking game pieces from the floor was much more limited.