My question concerns a local tournament and an email I received before the event. The email contained this paragraph:
"Our Head Ref and Refs expect teams to follow the <RSC7> rule as stated - LEGAL STARTING POSITION - not straddling. Robots that are close to filling the entire starting position will need to take extra precautions that they are truly within the legal starting box or will first receive a warning and if it happens again, will be DQ’d from their match. Remember, if this happens in finals, both teams will get the DQ."
I have reread the rules and checked on the QA Page but haven't found any such rule where the robot needs to be returned to pre-match conditions (ie: fit exactly in the box) when brought back to start position during a match. There are however a few rules that express that a robot can be adjusted when returned to start position, specifically during programming, and can expand beyond pre-match configurations throughout the entire match in both programming and driving.
Also, like years past, there is no rule that clarifies a robot must not "straddle" start positions when returned to one during a programming match. In years past the vagueness of these rules allowed students to reset their robot in a way that would satisfy returning to a legal start position and allow them to straddle the edges of the starting box. This was used a lot during programming to give the students an advantage in their runs and during teamwork challenges it allowed a little grace when teams were frantically trying to fix a robot.
Here are the relevant rules concerning Start Positions and returning a robot to start position during a match. I’ve included my thoughts with these rules so that you can better understand how I came to my interpretation.
<G4> Pre-Match setup. At the beginning of a Match, each Robot must meet the following criteria: Only be contacting the Floor and / or the Field perimeter (i.e. not contacting any Balls, other Field Elements, or other Robots). Fit within an 11” x 19” (279.4mm x 482.6mm) area, bounded by one of the Starting Positions. Be no taller than 15” from the Floor. <G5> Expansion is limited during a Match. During the Match, Robots may not expand beyond the following restrictions: Horizontally, beyond an 11” x 19” (279.4mm x 482.6mm) area. Vertically, beyond 19” (482.6mm) high. This is the same height as the top of the teal T-shaped VEX IQ parts in the center of the Field. See Figure 19. This expansion limit does not require that the Robot stay in the same configuration as it was when it began the Match. It simply means that, at any given moment during the Match, it should be able to fit within an 11” x 19” x 19” (279.4mm x 482.6mm x 482.6mm) rectangular prism. Robots will be tested for compliance with this rule, alongside rule <R6>, during inspection.
My thoughts: These two rules clarify what the robot looks like at Pre-Match and how the robot can expand during the match. The line of note is: "This expansion limit does not require that the Robot stay in the same configuration as it was when it began the Match." When returning a robot to the start position it is during the match and therefore does not need to be reset to pre-match size restrictions.
<G18> Handling the Robot mid-match is only allowed under certain circumstances. If a Robot goes completely outside the playing Field, gets stuck, tips over, or otherwise requires assistance, the Team’s Drivers may retrieve & reset the Robot. To do so, they must: Signal the Referee by placing their VEX IQ Controller on the ground. (Or table, if the field is elevated. Remove any Balls being controlled by the Robot from the Field. In the context of this rule, “controlled” implies that the Robot was manipulating the Ball, and not simply touching it. For example, if the Ball moves with the Roboteither vertically or while turning, then the Robot is “controlling” the Ball. Place the Robot back into a Starting Position which does not have any Balls in it. If no “empty” Starting Positions are available, then any Balls in the Starting Positionwhere the Robot is being placed must be removed from the Field. Note: If the Drivers cannot reach the Robot due to the Robot being in the center of the Field, the Drivers may ask the Head Referee to pick up the Robot and hand it to the Drivers for placement. according to the conditions above.
My thoughts: This is the general rule concerning handling a robot during the match. As you can see, it does not specify that a robot needs to return to a pre-match configuration when handling it during the match.
RSC7> Handling Robots during a Programming Skills Match. A Team may handle their Robot as many times as desired during a Programming Skills Match. Upon handling the Robot, it must be immediately brought back to any legal Starting Position. Drivers may reset or adjust the Robot as desired from this position, including pressing buttons on the Robot Brain or activating sensors. Any Ball being controlled by the Robot while being handled must be removed from the Field. Controlled requires that the Robot was manipulating the Ball and not simply touching it, e.g. if the Ball moves with the Robot either vertically or while turning, the Robot is controlling the Ball. Any Ball contacting the chosen Starting Position (as to where the Robot is placed) must be removed from the Field for the remainder of the Match. During a Programming Skills Match, Drivers may move freely around the Field, and are not restricted to the Driver Station when not handling their Robot.
My thoughts: In bullet point 1.1 it states: “Drivers may reset or adjust the Robot as desired from this position, including pressing buttons on the Robot Brain or activating sensors.” The line "or adjust the robot as desired" is very important for this clarification. This means they can set-up the robot however they desire, which I interpret as: they do not need to conform to pre-match size restrictions. Furthermore, I believe that this line and the fact that they don't need to fit in the size restrictions that allows the robots to "straddle" the start position if they desire to.
So my question is this, do robots need to be returned to a pre-match configuration when it is returned to a start position during either driving or programming match? Or, is my interpretation correct that the robots must be returned to a start position but not reconfigured back to a pre-match configuration?
I am a head referee and I want to make sure that my interpretation of these rules aligns with whatever Robot Events decides on this matter. Thank you for looking into this.