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

Wallbot/Protected Zone Clarifications


67101E
2 months ago

At our previous tournament, one of our teams took a wallbot and the referees were making some calls that we did not understand. While my students came with the rulebook highlighted, and met with the referees before the first round to discuss rules, they disagreed with our interpretation. Normally I would let it go, but these referees will also be judging our state event and they recommended posting on the Q&A to get an official ruling. We realize that in the heat of the moment these minute decisions are tough for a referee to make. This was more a case of after the tournament was over that we could not agree on definitions in the rules.


Relevant rules for reference: SG3 A (robots may not) Contact an opponent Robot which is fully contained within their Protected Zone SG3 E (robots may not) Contact an opposing Alliance’s Inner Protected Zone

Definition of outer protected Zone: The 3-dimensional volume extending upwards from the foam tiles and bound by the field perimeter, outer edge of the Protected Zone tape line, and the inner edge of the Inner Protected Zone tape line.

G13 Offensive Robots get the “benefit of the doubt”. In the case where referees are forced to make a judgment call regarding a destructive interaction between a defensive and offensive Robot, or an interaction which results in a questionable rules violation, the referees will err on the side of the offensive Robot. G14 You can’t force an opponent into a penalty. Intentional strategies that cause an opponent to violate a rule are not permitted, and will not result in an infraction on the opposing Alliance. Minor violations of this rule that do not affect the Match will result in a warning. Match Affecting offenses will result in a Disqualification. Teams that receive multiple warnings may also receive a Disqualification at the Head Referee’s discretion.


Here is what our robot looks like fully deployed. I will lay out 3 scenarios with pictures. Take a look at each of the scenarios before answering as I tried to cover the different ways it could play out.

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Scenario 1: A robot possessing a cube comes to score against our deployed wallbot. When part of the offensive robot entered the outer protected zone we were warned that we must move our robot because of rule G13. While we were definitely playing defense and they were on offense, there were no rules being broken, so we did not see why our robot should have to move. In the picture below, is the wallbot under any obligation to move/retract at this point?

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Scenario 2: A robot attempts to push us out of the way, and all 4 of their wheels are in the outer protected zone, but part of their robot was in the vertical space outside the zone. We were told to move because they met the definition of a “protected robot” under SG3 A. We argued that because the protected zone is a volume, not an area (per definition of the outer protected zone), that their robot was not fully contained within the outer protected zone. In the picture below, is the clawbot (offensive) protected? Is the wallbot under obligation to move/retract? img


Scenario 3: A robot attempts to push us out of the way and forces our robot deep into the protected zone. The offensive robot is now fully in the outer protected zone and/or our robot is now contacting the inner protected zone and we are in violation of SG3 A and/or E. The referees recognized that we should not be DQ’ed because we were forced there, but they then said that we had to retract and move because of rule G13 gives the benefit of the doubt to the offensive robot. I recognize that if the offensive robot backed away that our defensive robot should drive out of the zone and get in legal position, my questions are assuming that they continue to push on us. In the picture below, where the defensive robot has been forced into an illegal position under SG3 A or E, does the wallbot have to retract and exit the protected zone? Or may they simply sit still? Or may they push back on the robot pushing them into the protected zones?

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Goodness! Just writing these questions I have a new appreciation for your job to answer them. Thanks in advance!

Answered by Game Design Committee

Thank you for quoting the relevant rules, providing photos to help understand the scenarios, and being patient with the Head Referee who volunteered at your event.

Scenario 1: A robot possessing a cube comes to score against our deployed wallbot. When part of the offensive robot entered the outer protected zone we were warned that we must move our robot because of rule G13. While we were definitely playing defense and they were on offense, there were no rules being broken, so we did not see why our robot should have to move. In the picture below, is the wallbot under any obligation to move/retract at this point?

SG3 does not contain any restrictions on a Robot encroaching on an opponent's Outer Protected Zone. One intent is for it to be a "warning" zone for Head Referees, since a Robot that is in an opponent's Outer Protected Zone is very likely about to violate SG3-B, D, or E.

In the instant captured by the attached photo, the defensive Robot is not under any obligation from SG3 or G13 to move, provided that no other rules are being violated.

Scenario 2: A robot attempts to push us out of the way, and all 4 of their wheels are in the outer protected zone, but part of their robot was in the vertical space outside the zone. We were told to move because they met the definition of a “protected robot” under SG3 A. We argued that because the protected zone is a volume, not an area (per definition of the outer protected zone), that their robot was not fully contained within the outer protected zone. In the picture below, is the clawbot (offensive) protected? Is the wallbot under obligation to move/retract?

Your interpretation of the Outer Protected Zone as a volume, not an area, is correct. In the instant captured by the attached photo, the defensive Robot is not under any obligation from SG3 or G13 to move, provided that no other rules are being violated.

Scenario 3: A robot attempts to push us out of the way and forces our robot deep into the protected zone. The offensive robot is now fully in the outer protected zone and/or our robot is now contacting the inner protected zone and we are in violation of SG3 A and/or E. The referees recognized that we should not be DQ’ed because we were forced there, but they then said that we had to retract and move because of rule G13 gives the benefit of the doubt to the offensive robot. I recognize that if the offensive robot backed away that our defensive robot should drive out of the zone and get in legal position, my questions are assuming that they continue to push on us. In the picture below, where the defensive robot has been forced into an illegal position under SG3 A or E, does the wallbot have to retract and exit the protected zone? Or may they simply sit still? Or may they push back on the robot pushing them into the protected zones?

This question is more context-sensitive, and it is impossible to provide a blanket answer that would cover all hypothetical interactions. In general:

  • All Robots are responsible for their own actions. An offensive Robot who pushes a defensive Robot into any SG3 violation, as the result of offensive maneuvers, should be considered a G13 interaction. Therefore, the offensive Robot should receive the "benefit of the doubt", and the defensive Robot should receive the appropriate penalty for whichever portion of SG3 was violated (B, D, E, or F).
  • However, in order to be considered a G13 interaction, the Head Referee must judge that the offensive Robot is actually acting "offensively", not just trying to draw a penalty. An example of "offensive intent" could mean a traditionally offensive Robot carrying Cubes towards an empty Goal Zone.
  • If the Head Referee determines that the Robot in question is not acting offensively, then the interaction would be considered a G14 violation on the non-defensive Robot.
  • However, in either case, if the defensive Robot does not make an immediate and visible attempt to escape upon landing in their violation, this interaction could then return to an SG3 violation. The defensive Robot is still responsible for their actions, and is now using their position for a defensive advantage.

With the above points in mind, the instant captured by the attached photo would likely be considered a G14 violation on the Clawbot. It is not carrying any Cubes and therefore not capable of acting offensively. "Defending a defender" does not equal "offense".