Answered: Robot Malfunction during the controller handoff

When the robot malfunctions and the driver places the controller on the ground to fix it during the 10 second window, does the first driver still need to pick up the robot or should the second driver? Would they still have to hand off the controller during that time?

When we were practicing today, the first driver set the controller down and fixed the robot, then picked up the robot to hand over to the second driver but couldn’t get it to them before the buzzer went off to signal the end of the handoff? How should you handle this?

Rule <G5>, which governs the controller switch, is quoted below for reference:

<G5> Each team shall include two Drivers. Teams with only one Student in attendance at an event are granted an allowance to use a qualified Driver from the event. No Driver may fulfill this role for more than one team at any given event.

During a Match, Robots may only be operated by the Drivers. No Driver shall operate a Robot for more than thirty-five (35) seconds. The two drivers must switch their controller between twenty-five (:25) seconds and thirty-five (:35) seconds remaining in the Match. The second Driver may not touch his/her team’s controls until the controller is passed to him/her. Once the controller is passed, the first Driver may no longer touch his/her team’s controls. Violations of this rule will result in a warning for minor offenses that do not affect the match. Score affecting offenses will result in a Disqualification. Teams who receive multiple warnings may also receive a Disqualification, at the Head Referee’s discretion.

and rule <G15>, which governs mid-match robot repairs:

<G15> If a Robot goes completely out-of-bounds (outside the playing field), gets stuck, tips over, or otherwise requires assistance, the Drivers may retrieve & reset the Robot. In the process they must:

  1. Signal the Referee by placing their VEX IQ Controller on the ground.
  2. Move the Robot to a Starting Position.
  3. Any Rings in possession of the Robot while being handled must be removed from the Robot and taken out of play for the remainder of the Match.

This rule is intended so teams can fix damaged Robots or help get their Robots “out of trouble.” It is not intended for Teams to use as part of a strategy to gain an advantage during a Match. If a Head Referee sees Teams strategically exploiting this rule, they may be Disqualified from said Match


The intent of the controller switch is for no Driver to operate the Robot for more than 35 seconds. If the robot repair is completed between the 25- and 35-second mark, the first Driver may continue operating up to the 35-second mark if they wish. (However, in the interest of an efficient handoff immediately following a hectic repair, we would probably recommend that the second Driver picks it up).

If the repair is finished after the 35-second mark, then the second Driver should pick up the controller and resume robot operation. If the first Driver picks it up, they should immediately hand it off to the second Driver without operating the robot.

does the first driver still need to pick up the robot or should the second driver?

There is no requirement in <G15> that the Driver who is currently operating the robot is the one to handle the robot. Either Driver can handle the robot (following the process outlined in G15) once the Controller is placed on the ground.