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

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Descoring triballs on an opposing elevated robot


In one of our matches an opposing team interfered with our hang by ramming triballs into us but we still elevated in the end and were the only elevated robot. This meant that the score was not changed by refs. However, 2 triballs were descored since they were contacting our robot despite still being in our offensive zone. This changed the outcome of the match which was 99-100. Should there have been a penalty for pushing triballs into a robot in the proccess of elevating/elevated?

Answered by committee

First, please see the following red box note in rule <T1>1:

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.

We're mentioning this quote because the scenario described by this post is about as "edge case" of a scenario as one can find. Without more explicit direction in the Game Manual or a precedent-setting Q&A, a Head Referee would not have been "wrong" for ruling it either way.

With that being said, we do feel that this scenario warrants a unique combination of <SG11> and <G17>.

Per SG11, "Robots may not contact [...] c. Opponent Robots who meet the definition of Elevated".

G17, in its entirety, reads as follows:

<G17> Use Triballs to play the game. Triballs may not be used to accomplish actions that would be otherwise illegal if they were attempted by Robot mechanisms (e.g., interfering with an opponent’s Autonomous routine per <SG9>.)

The intent of this rule is to prohibit Teams from using Triballs as “gloves” to loophole any rule that states “a Robot may not [do some action]”. This rule is not intended to be taken in its most extreme literal interpretation, where any interaction between a Triball and a Robot needs to be scrutinized with the same intensity as if it were a Robot.

Violation Notes: If a rule is Violated through the use of Triballs instead of a Robot mechanism, it should be evaluated as though the rule in question had been Violated by a Robot mechanism.

If the Head Referee determined that the opponent Robots had directly used the Triballs to contact the Elevated Robots, then yes, SG11 has been Violated, since the rule should be evaluated as though the interaction had occurred with a Robot mechanism. And, because this pseudo-SG11 violation was what changed the outcome of the Match, then yes, it would have been considered Match Affecting.

If the Head Referee determined that the contact was incidental or otherwise not a direct attempt to interfere with an Elevated Robot, then the red box in G15 would apply, and it would not be considered an SG11 violation.