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Official Q&A: VRC 2023-2024: Over Under

Usage Guidelines All Questions

Regarding legal placement of match loads

Eric Sandvig

At a recent competition that I was at, there were some differing opinions amongst the head refs regarding what is considered a legal match load. I wanted to post this to get an official clarification on a couple of points.

Relevant posts and rules

<SG6> (Game Manual v3.0) 2. By placing the Match Load gently into / onto a Robot from the Drive Team Member’s Alliance. a. The Robot must be contacting the Match Load Zone or the Match Load Bar. b. Momentarily / accidentally losing contact with the Match Load Zone or Match Load Bar is permissible, provided that the Robot is still “breaking the plane” of the inside edge of the Match Load Bar. See Figure 28. c. Rules <S1> and <S3> still apply to this interaction; there should be no reason for a Robot to extend outside of the field perimeter during this action. d. The following actions are not considered “placing the Match Load gently onto a Robot”, and are not permitted. Egregious, intentional, or repeated instances of the following actions may become <G9> Violations at the Head Referee’s discretion. i. “Throwing,” “rolling,” or otherwise imparting enough energy onto a Triball such that its motion after release is mostly defined by the human (instead of the Robot). ii. Physically interacting with the Robot, such as pushing down on a mechanism (using a sensor to detect a Triball is permitted). iii. Placing the Match Load such that it is in contact with anything other than the Robot, such as the field perimeter or gray foam tiles.

Q&A 1778 The operative phrase of SG6 is “placing the Match Load gently onto a Robot”. This verbiage was intentionally chosen to be as broad as possible (within the aforementioned boundaries). “Placing” • Relevant dictionary definition: “to put or set in a particular place, position, situation, or relation” • SG6 intent: Set the Triball onto the Robot, don’t throw it carelessly. • Example question: “Is it okay to drop a Triball a short distance, in a controlled manner, onto a ramp?” o Answer: Yes. (legal example) (illegal example) • Example question: "Is it okay to throw a Triball to the Robot?" o Answer: No. (illegal example 1) (illegal example 2) “Gently” • Relevant dictionary definition: “in a way that is not rough, harsh, or violent” • SG6 intent: Be calm; try not to risk damaging your Robot, the Triball, or your hand. • Example question: “Can we use the Triball to push down a mechanism while loading?” o Answer: No. (illegal example) “Onto the Robot" • Relevant dictionary definition: “to a place or position on; upon; on” • SG6 intent: Release the Triball to your Robot, not to the foam tiles or an opponent Robot • Example question: “Is there a difference between ‘into’ and ‘onto’?” o Answer: Maybe, depending on which dictionary you look at, but in this context, no. This phrase will be changed to“into/onto” in the next Game Manual update. (legal example) • Example question: “Can it be placed onto a moving/spinning part of the robot?” o Answer: Yes. (legal example 1) (legal example 2)

Q&A 1524

  1. Can a Match Load be placed against the side of a Robot so that it is contacting both the Robot and a field tile?
  2. Can a Match Load be placed against the side of a Robot so that it is contacting the Robot and is 1 inch above the field tile?
  3. Can a Match Load be placed on the top of a Robot that has a slightly slanted top so that it rolls or slides off the top of the Robot?

Thank you for your question and for quoting the relevant rule. As quoted, the Match Load should be placed "gently onto a Robot". When no game-specific definition for a word is available, a standard dictionary definition should be used. The dictionary definition for "onto" is "to a position on; upon; on". The dictionary definition for "on" is "so as to be or remain supported by or suspended from". We'll address your three scenarios with these definitions in mind. Scenarios 1 & 2, in which the Match Load is placed "against" the Robot, do not meet the definition of "onto" and are not legal ways to introduce Match Loads. Scenario 3, in which the Match Load is placed "on the top of a Robot" and then slides or rolls off, does meet the definition of "onto" and could be a legal way to introduce Match Loads as described in rule <SG6>.


Point 1: How do you judge if the motion of a match loaded triball is defined by the robot when it only contacts flexible parts? There was a team which sometimes match loaded by pushing the triballs through a zip tie loop on their robot, occasionally putting momentum on the triballs when doing so. (see video, examples at 2:03:28 and 2:03:40, upper right-hand corner). Is it legal to do this? Would it be different if they were dropping the triball straight down through a zip tie that sticks out to the side instead? Is the legality affected by where the triball lands after being released (e.g. next to the robot vs. far offensive zone)? It seems to me that this would not be legal, as the robot is not defining the motion of the triball.

Point 2: Definition of “onto” Can a team place a triball against a flat, vertical side of their robot, so that it falls straight down when released. It seems to me that this does not meet the definition of onto.

Point 3: Can a team “feed” their intake? One common design this year has a roller intake towards the top of the robot, with rubber bands giving it downwards force to hold the triballs. (for a visual example, see the red robot with the blocker that starts the video on the far/right side at 25:04 My question is: Is it legal to match load into their intake, since the roller lifts in the process? I feel that this would be legal, so long as they aren’t putting force into lifting the roller manually. Would the legality change if the triball contacts the foam tiles outside the match load zone in the process of loading, before the human releases it?

Thank you for your time and clarification.

Answered by committee

Please see the following Q&As for our response to this and other recent questions about the legality of hypothetical match load devices & strategies.

Rulings on the legality of specific edge cases, such as the ones you present, must be made by the Head Referee(s) for the Match based on their judgment and the larger context and guided by the Q&As we've linked above.