Robotics Education & Competition Foundation
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Official Q&A: VRC 2023-2024: Over Under

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Tipping in Match Load Zone & G13 / G14


79267S
26-Dec-2023

<G13>

A blue alliance robot was in their own match load zone and a team member was placing triballs in the robot to be introduced to the field. A red alliance robot came over quickly to the blue robot, and the blue robot team member stopped match loading to avoid injury. The immediate contact interaction between the red and blue robots resulted in the tipping of the blue robot into the blue match load zone. Upon completion of the match, the referee ruled that the red alliance robot would not receive a major violation and disqualification for the tipping of the blue alliance robot citing G13a/b.

<G13> 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. VRC Over Under is intended to be an offensive game.Teams that partake in solely defensive or destructive strategies will not have the protections implied by <G13> (see <G14>). However, defensive play which does not involve destructive or illegal strategies is still within the spirit of this rule. VRC Over Under is also intended to be 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.

The head referee stated that G14 would not be applicable due to the statement given by the blue alliance team member, who was engaged in the match loading, in which they stated that they stopped match loading just prior to the interaction to avoid being injured in contact from the oncoming red robot.

<G14> Offensive Robots get the “benefit of the doubt.” In a case where Head 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 Violation, referees will decide in favor of the offensive Robot.

The referee ruled that the blue alliance robot was not engaged in any offensive actions and therefore not considered the offensive robot in this situation due to the blue alliance team not being actively engaged in match loading at the moment of interaction that resulted in the tipping, and therefore the contact between the red and blue robots was deemed incidental per G13b.

The question regarding the situation is as follows:

Due to the nature of match loading for this game and the safety concern of the blue alliance team member, and given that active match loading was occurring immediately prior to the action that resulted in the tipping, should the blue robot have still been considered as the offensive robot?

Answered by committee
11-Jan-2024

First - when a ruling is made that required an in-match judgment call, it is difficult for us to provide an answer that directly justifies or vilifies a given Head Referee's handling of a given situation. We weren't there, and didn't see what they saw; the red box note in <G1> should be kept in mind.

Note from the VEX GDC: The rules contained in this Game Manual are written to be enforced by human Head Referees. Many rules have “black-and-white” criteria that can be easily checked. However, some rulings will rely on a judgment call from this human Head Referee. In these cases, Head Referees will make their calls based on what they and the Scorekeeper Referees saw, what guidance is provided by their official support materials (the Game Manual and the Q&A), and most crucially, the context of the Match in question. The VEX Robotics Competition does not have video replay, our fields do not have absolute sensors to count scores, and most events do not have the resources for an extensive review conference between each Match. When an ambiguous rule results in a controversial call, there is a natural instinct to wonder what the “right” ruling “should have been,” or what the GDC “would have ruled.” This is ultimately an irrelevant question; our answer is that when a rule specifies “Head Referee’s discretion” (or similar), then the “right” call is the one made by a Head Referee in the moment. The VEX GDC designs games, and writes rules, with this expectation (constraint) in mind.

With that all being said, we do not see any decision-making in this scenario that was outside the boundaries of "Head Referee discretion" provided by <G13> and <G14>.

Yes, in most cases, Match Loading can be considered an offensive action. However, this does not mean that "any Robot near a Match Load Zone is immediately offensive", and it is within the Head Referee's discretion to judge whether <G14> applies to a given interaction. We cannot provide a blanket "yes/no" answer to all possible versions of these interactions.