Rules, Judges and Errors in the Robot Game

FIRST LEGO League has a pretty extensive collection of rules for the Robot Game and they make addendums throughout the season as new questions arise.  There have been about 4 updates so far this season.

However judges, like coaches, are volunteers, fallible and only given a few hours of training in which to absorb a mini-law school education in FLL rules and how to apply them.  We’ve seen several errors in our tournaments and judging, including:

* One team brought several identical ev3 robots to the competition table and just swapped them out during their run.  That is, they had 2 robots at the table and made attachments and other changes to one while the other was running.  This is a huge advantage for this one team because they required no time between runs out of base to change attachments or select programs.  The judges at the tournament didn’t catch this, but this was specifically addressed as illegal in the latest December 5th clarification.

* The Engagement Mission specifies that the robot can only rotate the dial 180 degrees for each trip out of base.  We’ve seen a robot that sat in base and repeatedly turned the dial without leaving base which violates the stated rule that the robot must return to base between each 180 degree rotation.  It was a clever attachment and the team was awarded the full 56% credit on the Engagement Mission for a whopping score of 745!  See the next post above for a video of this amazing device.

* Many teams grab their robot with cargo (eg a bit or reverse engineering basket)  before it has completely entered base.  The rules state that the robot can be pulled into the base by any part that is in base, but any cargo not completely in base must be left on the mat outside the base when the robot was touched.  I didn’t see this rule enforced when this situation arose.

* Many teams have reported errors in scoring because the judges encounter a lot of new situations or exceptions to the rules in real-time and are only given minutes to mark down a teams score.

Like life, human error also happens in FLL tournaments.  Coaches and other adults are not allowed to participate or even watch most of the events the FFL team does.

Therefore, it is up to you, the kids, to speak up in a friendly, respectful, clear and confident manner to the judges if you see any possible error.  Adults and coaches are only there to observe and even then, they are not allowed to enter the judging rooms.

It is also important that you read and understand the rules linked above if you want to raise a question with a judge.

referee_argueBe warned that the judges word is final and generally they will not have time to re-read the manual or view video tape replays.

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