Robotics Education & Competition Foundation
Inspiring students, one robot at a time.

Official Q&A: VRC 2022-2023: Spin Up

Usage Guidelines All Questions

Flashlight Legality


920B
27-Sep-2022

R12e-g states that

e. Internal power sources (e.g., for a small blinking light) are permitted, provided that no other rules are violated and this source only provides power to the non-functional decoration (i.e. does not directly or indirectly influence any functional portions of the Robot).

f. Decorations which provide feedback to the Robot (e.g., by influencing legal sensors) would be considered “functional,” and are not permitted.

g. Decorations which provide visual feedback to Drive Team Members (e.g., decorative lighting) are permitted, provided that they do not violate any other rules and serve no other function (e.g., structural support).

There is some ambiguity as to the extent to which these exceptions may be taken. The specific question I have is whether a non-VEX flashlight powered by a seperate power source (e.g. AA batteries) used solely for the purpose of providing driver feedback for aiming at the high goal would be legal.

Point e legalizes internal power sources for a small light (in this case it would be a bright, solid light).

Point g legalizes lights being used for driver visual feedback.

Point f is not being violated as it is not being used to provide feedback to the robot, and it is not messing with or otherwise influencing other legal sensors (on any robot).

Provided no other rules are being violated (such as blinding other drivers, structural support, influencing other sensors, etc.), would this use of a commercial off the shelf flashlight solely for the purposes of driver feedback be legal? If not, why? Also, if this use would not be legal, would mounting it such that it never went above the height of the sides of the field be legal?

R12 b states that

b. Small cameras are permitted as non-functional decorations, provided that any transmitting functions or wireless communications are disabled. Unusually large cameras being used as ballast are not permitted.

If the flashlight used only to aid the driver in aiming at the high goal would not be legal, then would a small camera with a flash that was on for the duration of the match be legal (provided no other rules are violated)? Would it still be legal if the flash was used for driver feedback?

Answered by committee

Provided no other rules are being violated (such as blinding other drivers, structural support, influencing other sensors, etc.), would this use of a commercial off the shelf flashlight solely for the purposes of driver feedback be legal?

Provided that no other rules are violated, yes, this would be legal, per R12-g and R12-e.

However, please be advised that there are many ways in which hypothetical mechanisms of this type could be found in violation of other rules, depending on Match / event / Robot context.

For example, R12-d, which reads as follows:

Decorations that visually mimic Field Elements, or could otherwise interfere with an opponent’s Vision Sensor, are considered functional and are not permitted. The Inspector and Head Referee will make the final decision on whether a given decoration or mechanism violates this rule.

Shining a flashlight directly into an opponent's Vision Sensor could be considered interference, and would extend beyond the scope of R12-g (i.e. it would no longer simply be considered "visual feedback to Drive Team Members").

Similarly, we are not going to be able to provide an absolute ruling / guideline for what would be considered "blinding other drivers". To mitigate the risk of any complaints or safety concerns, we would advise preventative measures such as momentary lighting (instead of "always on"), shrouding or confining the light source, pointing it at the field floor instead of above the field wall, etc. Teams who utilize such a mechanism should keep R3-f in mind:

All Inspection Rules are to be enforced within the discretion of the Head Referee within a given event. Robot legality at one event does not automatically imply legality at future events. Robots which rely on “edge-case” interpretations of subjective rules, such as whether a decoration is “non-functional” or not, should expect additional scrutiny during inspection.