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Official Q&A: VRC 2019-2020: Tower Takeover Usage Guidelines

Detaching robots and entaglement


Zack Helgesen (Event Partner)
9 months ago

One of my students wants to build a robot similar to this design to the ones featured in the following video but wants to make sure the design is legal before building it. Specifically in the video we are looking at designs that build a wall that detaches from the robot and the only connection is rope/string. www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rznndditly0

They are concerned firstly that rule G5 is being violated.

<G5> Keep your Robots together. Robots may not intentionally detach parts during the Match or leave mechanisms on the field.

The designers of these robots have defended at length on forums that their designs don't detach because they are connected by rope/string. Is that enough to consider your robot parts still attached? Also, even if it is attached, leaving a wall behind that is attached by string seems like it might still violate the second part of of G5 "or leave

mechanisms on the field."

Secondly if this sort of design is allowable within G5 they are also concerned that it would violate rule R3c  which states:

<R3> Robots must be safe. The following types of mechanisms and components are NOT allowed: c. Those that pose an unnecessary risk of Entanglement.

Would leaving behind a trail of 20 feet of rope/string be considered an unnecesarry risk of entanglement?

Thanks in advance!
Answered by Game Design Committee

The designers of these robots have defended at length on forums that their designs don't detach because they are connected by rope/string. Is that enough to consider your robot parts still attached?

When there is no VRC-specific definition for a term, a dictionary definition should be used. The Oxford dictionary definition for "attached" is "joined, fastened, or connected to something".

Parts connected by rope/string are, by definition, considered "attached" to the Robot. Therefore, G5 is not being violated if a mechanism is attached solely via rope/string.

Would leaving behind a trail of 20 feet of rope/string be considered an unnecesarry risk of entanglement?

In addition to R3, Entanglement is also referenced in G12 (i.e. it is possible for a Robot to pass R3 in inspection, but still violate G12 during a Match).

< G12 > Don’t destroy other Robots. But, be prepared to encounter defense. Strategies aimed solely at the destruction, damage, tipping over, or Entanglement of opposing Robots are not part of the ethos of the VEX Robotics Competition and are not allowed. If the tipping, Entanglement, or damage is ruled to be intentional or egregious, the offending Team may be Disqualified from that Match. Repeated offenses could result in Disqualification from the entirety of the competition.

< G12b > VEX Robotics Competition Tower Takeover is an interactive game. Some incidental tipping, Entanglement, and damage may occur as a part of normal gameplay without violation. It will be up to the Head Referee’s discretion whether the interaction was incidental or intentional.

Note: A Robot which has expanded horizontally in an effort to obstruct the field, or is legally covering the top of a Tower in a solely defensive manner, should expect vigorous interactions from opponent Robots. Damage that is caused by opponent Robots pushing, tipping, or Entangling with them would not be considered a violation of < G12 >. Gratuitous damage or dangerous mechanisms may still be considered a violation of <R3>, <S1>, or <G1> at the Head Referee’s discretion.

Bearing both R3 and G12 in mind, it is impossible to provide a blanket ruling that would cover all possible hypothetical Robot designs and/or on-field interactions. This is the type of question that requires a human observing the context of a specific Robot and/or Match to provide a judgment call.

So, we will provide the following overarching guidelines as starting points for Head Referees, inspectors, and Teams to use when determining whether a given design/interaction is legal.

  1. When inspecting for R3, has the Team done their due diligence in the engineering design process to mitigate the risks of unnecessary Entanglement? While it is outside the scope of this Q&A to provide specific design advice, we would recommend that Teams wishing to utilize this strategy test different thicknesses, attachment methods, lengths, etc in different types of robot-to-robot interactions to minimize unnecessary, egregious, or intentional Entanglement.

  2. Does the string on the field pose a likely or strategic possibility of Entangling another Robot? That is to say - is Entangling a primary function of the string (is it a "dragnet" mechanism), or is it simply a means-to-an-end?

  3. Any Robot with a mechanism such as the one in the linked video would be taking on some risk of incidental Entanglement. Therefore, if incidental Entanglement occurs, was the Entanglement egregious or intentional? If it was not egregious or intentional, was it the result of vigorous interactions from opponent Robots (per the Note in G12)?