Answered: Refs not giving time to connect to robot (G7 somewhat)

I want to seek a clarification on the proper behavior for a situation that happened this past weekend at my state tournament.

In a qualification match, my alliance was red, and we knew that out opponents were likely going to run an interference/blocking autonomous, so we exercised our right to place our robots. The blue alliance did not finish the placement of their robots until the conclusion of the previous match, so by the time we had actually put our robots on the field, the ref had come to our field and was wanting to start the match. My robot had just connected and my partner’s robot had been placed, but the Cortex and Controller had not yet connected. The ref was getting annoyed that we were “delaying the schedule” and decided to start autonomous without us being ready and both robots connected. As he was counting down to start, we expressed our frustration and stated our rights under G7, but he ignored us and autonomous started anyway. My partner did not connect until around 6 seconds left in autonomous, so his robot did not complete the autonomous, and we lost autonomous, even though we would have won had my partner had the entire 15 seconds to run autonomous.

We noticed that in many other matches and generally during the season, this ref and other refs would ask both alliances if they were ready and make sure that they were connected before autonomous was run. In this case, the head ref decided that waiting the 15-30 seconds to let the robot connect was too detrimental to an on-time tournament schedule, so he started the match without both teams being ready.

The match ended up being decided by a margin of 14 points, and my partner had to spend time scoring the mobile goal which he would normally score in autonomous, which he got stuck doing in driver control. In this match, all 4 teams were 2-0, and the score ended up as 125-111, the highest total qualifier score of the day, 5th highest of the day overall.

My question, essentially, is, Is the ref supposed to wait (a reasonable amount of time of course) to allow to the robots to connect with the controller before starting the match? What amount of time is excessively long to wait? 10 seconds, 30 seconds, 1 minute?

I know that you have no power to overturn the decision of the ref and since the event has happened, it is over and nothing can really be changed. I just want a clarification so I can know if the refs at Worlds will give teams time to connect and so that I have an understanding of what I should be able to expect of future tournaments.

Side Note:
My partner, as a result of this match was 5-1 rather than 6-0, which resulted in him not qualifying for worlds, which was very unfortunate. We tried to speak with our regional RECF rep, who was at the event, but not watching the matches. He said that he had no power to overturn the head ref, which I was slightly confused by based on some of the previous Q and A responses to ref related disputes.

Thanks for reading this long post, sorry if it’s not exactly a Q and A, I just wanted an official ruling on the matter.

We cannot provide an absolute guideline for how long is “too long”, as it depends on situational factors such as the event running behind schedule, match cycle time, if a particular team has caused previous delays, etc. 10 seconds is probably acceptable. 5 minutes is probably excessive.

Referees and event staff are expected to promote a positive team experience, which could include some amount of flexibility for technical troubleshooting. However, this must always be balanced with keeping the event moving and sticking to a match schedule. It is a difficult balance, so teams are expected to arrive to the field ready to play, and to set up their robot on the field promptly. We recommend first plugging your VEXnet Joystick in to the field, then turning on your robot and Joystick, before doing anything else setup-related. This will ensure that they have ample time to connect while you position the robot, set up your preload, etc.

The answer is the same when referring to Worlds. Field staff will do their best to help all teams who are having technical difficulties before and during matches. However, they will be cognizant of the event schedule when doing so. Teams can help to avoid difficulties by arriving to the queue line early and being fully prepared for their match (charged batteries, plugged in VEXnet keys, etc).