Tipping robots is too easy for it to be a red card

Yesterday in the tie breaker of the Ontario District Grand Finale a red card (and of course a tech foul) was given to 4678 for tipping over 2200. This ultimately decided the fate of the match as, if no red card and tech foul had been awarded, the Science division alliance would have won 174-173 (maybe it’s a good thing we lost because I don’t know if my heart would have withstood that).

Side Notes

  • 2200: Consistent as always and great job. Hope to see you represent Canada at worlds.
  • 2056: Your robot is incredible, it’s hard to believe just how good it is. Hopefully one of these days we can be on the same side of the glass for once.
  • 4992: Congrats on 3 blue banners this year.
  • 4946: Proud to win your first banner in 8 years with you, truly an honor, you played out of your minds.
  • 8729: Your defense was great and you navigated around us and Dogs really well. Also your scoring contribution was key to us winning Science division.
  • 4678 (my team): So so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so proud of each and everyone on the team. You really made the experience what it was. I could not have asked for a better group of people to be a team with, I really mean it.
  • Putting up 192 with the Science division alliance is something I will remember fondly in perpetuity. That was a world class performance. :heart:

Back to the regularly scheduled program…

Here is a gif of the tip (if the quality is too pour I will find a way of sharing the .mov file).
As you can see we tweak the back corner of 2200 as we cross paths while both cycling, then bump them again right before they hit the ground.

The interaction was called as a G206

and I assume the refs called it under C since we did hit them after they were starting to tip (though I don’t think the second contact could reasonably have been avoided).

The Rule
I know that the rule has the verbiage “Tipping [is] an unintended consequence of normal ROBOT to ROBOT interaction” but I think the idea that tipping robots is easy to do by accident and hard to prevent once it starts needs to be further reinforced by the rules. Almost every red and yellow card I have seen handed out for a G206 can easily be explained by drivers not having time to react when a robot starts tipping. IMO you just don’t have time to react in the heat of the match and so I don’t think most tips should be eligible for G206s under C. The refs evidently don’t see it that way and that’s why I think we need a rule change.

The Penalty
Perhaps some penalty is warranted for accidentally tipping robots (for example I can see why FIRST would want to penalize a team for playing defense in a way that has a tendency to tip robots), but I think a red card is the wrong answer and a yellow may even be too much. IMO red cards should be reserved for behavior that is clearly deliberate and I have never seen a team, as I perceive, deliberately tip a robot (unlike your aunt and uncle we know this isn’t battle bots).

Over the past two seasons things have gotten bad enough that I have started hearing jokes about “picking tippy robots to win on red cards”. To me that’s a sign the rules need to change.

CyberCavs aren’t going to words and I am crying, FIRST please bring back north champs (or move it to St. Louis again, that would be epic too).


We received a red card on the playoffs at Green County.

It was crushing and though some on the team don think it warranted a red card I think under current rules it was correct. I don’t think the action was intentional but it was avoidable. It looks like he tried to slide out from I under the other bot then went forward before he cleared the other bot.

I agree it is a harsh call. It does usually disable a bot for the match though.


We were cheering for the CyberCavs all weekend from home, and it was terrible to see it end like that. Your team had an incredible robot. I hope you’re all still super proud of an amazing season.


Red keeps driving in an attempt to complete its cube cycle and blue keeps driving in an attempt to pick up a cone from the double sub station. Blue driver is in station two, with perhaps the hardest angle on the field to observe a change of level of red bumpers that might indicate a tip is happening. The whole interaction might be a little longer than a second. Human Benchmark - Reaction Time


I have very mixed feelings about penalties for tipping.

Last year our robot was a bit more tippy than was ideal until we added a steal bellypan. But we also tested it and were not able to tip ourselves without intervention. This combined with heavy defense or other robot to robot interaction led to us being tipped over I believe 3 times over the course of the season and off-season. 2 of them were called as red cards, one of which was in finals.

For me it’s tricky because obviously a red card is a super harsh penalty. But tipping over another robot can also be match breaking. For example, in one of our quals matches where we were tipped, the opponent very obviously rammed into us sideways and followed through until we fell over. The individual team got a red card, but the other alliance still won and we lost the additional ranking points due to being unable to shoot or climb, moving us down in the rankings and potentially drastically affecting the outcome of the event.

I feel like in quals it’s too lenient, and in elims it’s too harsh. In quals the robot who tipped another team over gets penalized, but the robot who was tipped doesn’t get any sort of compensation.

In elims, it basically automatically knocks out an entire alliance which feels extreme on the other end unless it’s pretty egregious.

I feel like accidentally tipping a robot should be a tech foul, and intentionally doing so should be 3, and a yellow card. This way, the team whose down a robot is still compensated, but it also doesn’t completely put the other alliance out of the fight.


We ran into this at the NYC Regional this year during Finals Match 2, and it is certainly a touch rule due to the heavy reliance on discretion by the Referee. Honestly in the case of a robot being flipped, there is no real way to make either alliance happy, but I do think a red card should be warranted in a more severe case than being unable to drive, such as damage or obvious intent like if a robot did everything possible to make the collision happen, or to make intentional moves that would reasonably be seen as leading to a tip. Honestly though, I can see why FIRST made it as strict as it is, given their hard stance on the FIRST is not battlebots thing.

One small note here: tipping is TWO tech fouls and a red card.


You raise some really good points here. Thanks for suggesting an alternate opinion.

What you say about quals vs elims is very true and your proposition of making intentional tipping multiple tech fouls to compensate the other team seems reasonable.


Is this a suggestion to Benjamin’s post?

As per this note

I don’t believe it is 2 tech fouls and a red. In our case at least we were certainly only given one.


Could an enforceable “max tippiness” rule be concocted beyond just the height, weight, and frame perimeter rules? Function of… narrower frame dimension (25" if robot is 25x30) and vertical COM (which could be fun to measure - probably the limiting factor)? It does seem like there are some excessively tippy bots this year & some past years.

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Interesting thought. Does seem like the cleanest solution to me. I think it would be better if the rules of the game (i.e. how frequently cards and fouls are handed out) push teams to build robots with low COG.

High key flex: If I get the chance at this week’s team meeting I will try and take a video demonstrating just how un tippy our robot is. Arms with light end effectors are truly great machines.


One potential issue is what happens if a robot isn’t within spec? Are they forced to remove their mechanism till they are within spec? This seems potentially hard to enforce without potentially devastating consequences to struggling teams.


The rule is written to prevent “intentional tipping”. The current interpretation is catching just the opposite:

a) There is no way any of the examples above are intentional, and i would be surprised to find any strong examples of a team intentionally tipping another.

b) The blue box requires that teams “back away from a tip” once it’s begun, but at 14+ feet per second, it’s absolutely impossible for a kid’s thumb to react that fast.

c) There is no consideration for how “easy” the injured team was to tip. That’s a hard question, but it clearly has an unexamined role, especially in a year where the GDC incentivized small robots with high CGs.

My gripe is that calling the rule this way is hurtful and libelous. It tells the whole venue that one kid tried to intentionally damage another team. That’s the opposite of inspiring. Something has to change!

Matches with Tips should be replayed IMO. Everyone (especially event-runners who are behind schedule) will groan at the idea, but it’s the only equitable approach.


Big agree.

We would have loved a replay. After our 192-166 point win we were raring to go.

Edit: As the other alliance I might have wanted to keep the red and not have to replay the match but I don’t think I would have been too upset with that call even if I lost the replay. I do think the replay would have been the thing that would have left everyone the least upset.


There have been lots of similar hits (when a robot hits the corner of another robot, causing it to spin and tip), talked about in other threads.


I think any rule requiring refs to assess driver intent are inherently flawed. I remember making an argument that a mid-field immobilizing t-bone should be a pin last year, and people quickly pointed out that the “pin-ee” could be acting like they’re immobilized to draw a penalty… How can the refs make a judgment? Differentiating intentional from unintentional tipping seems similarly challenging for refs.


The only objective threshold for “intentional” tipping I can think of off the top of my head would be a robot going full or otherwise high speed directly towards a robot and making 0 effort to get away from them. That still has a lot of room for judgment error, though.

FIRST has known about this issue since Week 1 and not presented any real solutions via team updates. We have one potential team update left. Given the lack of relevant changes to date, I doubt they’ll fix this before champs.

I expect this to impact multiple alliances in playoffs at champs. Such a shame.



Thinking forward to offseasons, what would your proposal be on the rule change? Would it just be to make it a lesser penalty, or do you think there needs to be some more nuance into the intentionality (and if so, how would you measure)?

Super curious to start thinking about fixing broken things.


The rules we’re talking haven’t changed substantially since the days when all the top teams were running tank drives with limited motor numbers, nor, it seems, have their interpretations. But the speed and the power of the robots has, substantially. I think the rules need to get with the times, if the power isn’t going to get dialed down.