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Many implications of Robot parts falling into a Goal


2014A
7-Oct-2023

The following happened during practice: part of the robot broke off and fell into the Goal. Many questions arose which later generated some discussion among the mentor/coaches in our organization. We believe these are not fully addressed in the Game Manual:

Does this situation:

  1. Disqualify all/any of the Blocks already in the Goal?
  2. Affect Uniform bonuses?
  3. Affect current or future Height bonuses?
  4. Affect the ability for the Driver to "collect" the detached Part as graciously allowed by <G6>?

Our thoughts are:

  1. No Blocks are excluded from Scoring solely because of the broken off Part due to <SC3>: the Part is no longer considered part of the Robot per <G6>, thus <G10> doesn't apply. Blocks in the Goal are not being "controlled" by the Robot, so Blocks don't have to be removed from the Goal. However, if the Part prevents <SC3>'s transitive rule (breaks the contiguous connection from block-to-floor), then that does affect scoring. For example, you have Block A touching the floor, then the Robot Part, then Block B on it. If Block B is not touching Block A, then it doesn't not count as scored. We'd argue that if the two Blocks are touching each other, despite the Robot Part, then it counts as transitively touching the floor. For the same reason the transitive rule applies even if the Block is touching, say, the walls of the Goal itself.

  2. No, it should not affect the Uniform Bonus: the scenario satisfies <SC4>. Philosophically, the disconnected Part doesn't invalidate or make unfair the efforts of teams to keep the Goal Uniform. However, a rules clarification on this point might be a good idea.

  3. This one's a tough one. A Robot Part occupies volume, potentially a lot of volume, and thus could make it easier for teams to achieve the Height Bonus, perhaps unfairly so. We propose that the definition of Fill Level 2 and 3 under Game Specific Definitions should perhaps updated to note that the Goal must be occupied solely by Blocks. Thus, a Robot Part invalidates Height 2 and 3 bonuses. But Height 1 bonus is retained. Such a rule update has the unfortunate effect of invalidating the hard efforts by teams during Teamwork matches to achieve Height >1 bonuses - but such is the hazard of designing a delicate bot?

EDIT 2023-10-08: One additional consideration: what if the Robot Part does not add any significant volume? For example, a single 1x2 connector pin falls into the Goal? Since there is a spectrum of possible Robot Part sizes which can affect Scoring, any rule clarifications may need to specify that the part's presence actually affects the score at the end of the Match? I say "at the end of the Match" because it's possible that a Part, say a 1x10 beam, slides into the Goal without touching any Blocks - but later new Blocks that are Scored are impacted by the presence of the beam. In that scenario, the Part affected the final score, but not at the moment that it fell into the Goal. Yet another consideration is that the part(s), even some 1x2 connectors, could potentially prevent even a Height 1 bonus by denying the Blocks contact with the Floor!

  1. This one seems moderately clear. To collect the piece, the Driver must reach into a Goal mid-match and may touch and affect the position of the Blocks within. There's some fairness issues here: what if the blocks were carefully stacked or happened to be balanced to achieve a height bonus? What if the Driver's reach into the Goal causes the Blocks to eventually achieve a height bonus that was otherwise not destined to be? It seems that <G9> covers this situation: if there's a chance of touching a Block while collecting the Part, the Driver should not risk it. However, perhaps it'd be prudent to modify <G6> to state (added part in bold):

can be either left on the Field or collected by a Driver (utilizing <G10>). Drivers doing so should be careful to avoid violating <G9>.

Note that this clarification of the relationship between G6 and G9 affects other scenarios too, for example a Part falling into the Supply Zone.

Thank you in advance for any guidance.

G6  
Answered by committee
25-Oct-2023

Thank you for your questions. If a part detaches from a Robot and falls into a Goal, it should be left in place and ignored for scoring.

If the Head Referee determines that the part was intentionally detached in a Score Affecting Violation of rule <G6>, it should result in a Major Violation and DQ for the Team that detached the part.

If the Head Referee determines that the part was detached accidentally, it's not a Violation of any rule and the Head Referee does not have to determine whether it was Score Affecting. Head Referees should advise Teams whose Robots detach parts in Goals to revise their design to prevent future occurrences; repeated incidents may start to look like an intentional pattern and lead to a Major <G6> Violation and DQ.

Given this, we can address your specific questions:

  1. No.
  2. No.
  3. No.
  4. Yes; the detached part must remain in the Goal until the Match has been Scored.