Build Season is beginning...

So the U.S. Robots and Mechanical Men company has officially opened it’s doors, and begun work… With a valiant effort, they deconstructed their first prototype, and are moving towards more ambitious goals. With competition from the likes of the kiwis and STEMRobotics, we are moving into high gear, with several ideas we feel are crazy enough to merit investigation… Their efforts will be focused on their first foray into college robotics, with the newbie underdog, iBOTZ Robotics…

In short, I finally found some time, and have started building… :stuck_out_tongue: (pictures soon, maybe… :D)

So first, a question. With the assumption that this is a college team, who can think of a use for 60 feet of tank tread? (That will be split over two robots… But yes, that’s 60 feet…)

Next, another question: there has been a lot of discussion on how many game pieces high-school teams should gather, but what about college? How many pieces should they gather?

And finally, is there a way to guarantee that your team will win? (Assuming the robot(s) work the way they are supposed too…)

Oh, and one last thing: If a team does something amazingly unfair, but within the rules, that helps them win amazingly, what should be done about it, if anything? (No rules broken, nothing illegal, just very unfair…)

There’s some homework for y’all… I’m interested to see what you come up with… :smiley:

You’ve essentially asked the “golden” questions. These questions are pretty vague and are what make the perfect robot.

Now, If I understand the college rules correctly, hypothetically, I’d expect for the teams to be able to hold perhaps 2-3 more tubes than a “high school team.” But this is highly dependent on the design and the strategy.

Your last question is very interesting. I’m not sure if you keep up with any of the FRC games, but in 2010, there was a game called breakaway. It was pretty much soccer. Team 469 came up with a design that was legal, genius, but somewhat of a game hack. It’s legality and I suppose “fairness” were often called into question, but as long it stuck to the rules, it was a gold mine (literally).

But to be honest, I doubt there’s anything you can do in this game that some team hasn’t done at some point in the past.

  • Sunny G.

interaction zone robot: a typical clean sweep dumper robot that dumps them into the iso zone (hold as many as possible)

iso robot: same discussion as high school robots (efficiency, strategy, weight, ect…)

thought of some already :wink:
although there ARE counter strategies, i dont think a team would rebuild their whole robot just to counter a particular strategy :wink:

what defines “unfair”
if everything was written out in the rules from the very beginning, then i think it sould be called “exceptional problem solving and engineering”
did you think “goal dumping” (GER) was unfair?
i (and most other people) congratulated them for doing it so efficiently!

i googled it and saw that robot on youtube
it was AMAZING!
even though i do not know the game and its rules, i can tell that it was a truly “out of the box” design and strategy from the other “normal” robots

just my 2 cents

If there’s a chokehold (a guaranteed way to win) strategy, it’d be not easy to perform.

This game is a “resource” kind of game, well in fact almost all challenges for VRC / FTC / FRC are depending on resource, especially there’s no “end game” bonus or autonomous bonus this year.

So if one team can deny all of the other team’s available resources (barrels and spheres), then they’ll be able to win every match, if they score at least one.

But it’s not possible to deny ALL of the other team’s object in this game due to the isolation zone / preload.

So for the college challenge, if a team can build an interaction robot that gathers all of the other team’s scoring objects, or enough so the other alliance won’t be able to catch up to your own alliance score, then you’ll win every match, assuming you place barrels / spheres correctly in goals and used the double / negation barrels correctly.

For the high school challenge, same principle apply, and to execute the strategy successfully, a robot must fully occupy the opposite interaction alliance scoring tile to prevent additional match loads introduced into play.

The important element to this strategy is speed. If you get to the resources before the other team does and prevent future resource from coming in, then the team will be successful.

And of course, to every strategy there’s a counter strategy. But most teams won’t really dedicate any time in the season to counter this strategy. For example, which team actually wrote an autonomous to go underneath the tower during autonomous to prevent 469 during 2010 in FRC?

And of course, there are many other chokehold strategies… You just gotta think outside of the box.

AURA will probably have many long and in depth strategy discussions with you in the future. (looking forward to it).

BUT, for now we’re focusing on high school rules with the upcoming world cup being held here in Auckland. Although, if you were to come to this event, we could start having discussions now…

So my idea for an iso College robot that is getting ignored by the builders/main strategy guys is basically something that goes up and down the middle of the iso zone between the gate and the fence and is fully automated (I’m the main programmer for AURA) on high traction tank tread. And you simply feed it objects of both color it auto scores your objects in the best goal, or rejects the opposition objects into your iso zone out of its path.

Also for extra ninja points it uses part of its object manipulation system at the very start to move from the starting tile to the middle of the iso zone, perhaps like a tank tread conveyor that starts off like an inch lower than the main driving tank tread, and at 90 degrees to it to driver you sideways then lifts up and the driving tread takes over.


Better re-read the Q&A: I parse the intent of the Game committee to be that you may not pancake the opposition starting tile to prevent them from match loading. If you park on their tile, all they need to do is touch your robot and the are legal for match loads.

In my opinion, something that would guarentee a win in the college competition would be an isolation zone robot that can cover all 6 of the 30" goals with “gates” so that they can be open or closed depending on what you want, giving controlled access to the main goals. It would also have an arm that could score.

That way even if your opponent collects most of your objects, you still have enough game pieces to beat their score. You decide if a goal is open or not. The interaction zone robot would also be capable of scoring in the closest 30" goals. I believe this would guarentee success in matches. Thats just my opinion at least.

Isolation zone: Covering the main 6 goals would be interesting, although if there is an opponents object on top of your covers, it still counts as scored because it is in the vertical projection of the goal. Also, you would have to get a 6ft x 2ft structure with the caps on the goals, with the control (pneumatics?) to open them.

A similar idea, but less extreme that someone mentioned a while ago would be a long, wide trident that goes goes between the goal posts.

Interaction zone: Getting the game objects to your side is crucial if they score more bonus points than you, but also, you could stop their team from getting any objects at all into their iso zone. What if there were a robot that had a really big obstruction that clamps onto the enemy fence? Clamp it onto the fence while the other interaction zone bot is collecting objects, and they can’t transfer anything to where it can be scored. The mobile part of the robot can just be a copy of one of the clean sweep robots with the high 4bar buckets to score in the 30" goal.

There’s no absolute chokehold for this game, but there’s a guaranteed advantage.


Your last question is ill-formed and/or a non-sequitur. The rules determine what is legal and that is pretty much where the conversation stops.

In one sense, the question is similar to asking whether a win counts if an alliance doesn’t enjoy it, or if the enjoy it too much, or if the alliance they beat is too disappointed.

There is no such thing as stand-alone “fairness”. Whether or not some action or activity is “fair” can only be determined in a specified context, not as an absolute characteristic independent of context.

Legality is what counts. Legal play is by definition fair VRC play. The rules are the context and actions that are legal are also fair within that context. So in this most important sense, I do’t think you can come up with legal gameplay that is also unfair.


geez, he was just trying to open up conversation about the possibility of a mended rule. Honestly, i do not think there is anything that would be so controversial that it would warrant a rule change but i don’t think he was “ill-informed”. it was in my opinion a valid question.

So the main question wasn’t so much as to the rules, but more on the lines of what teams thought about unfairness… Is that something that will win me loads of enemies? Or will people just see it as me trying to win, and respect me for it?

Also, what about referees? Can they rule something as excessively unfair?


My answer to your first question is still what I wrote before.

About your second question, in my opinion (that I think is well-founded), proper VRC referees simply don’t rule on what is fair or isn’t. A) Because of the reasons I described before; and B) Because referees enforce rules, not fairness.

geez, I didn’t write “ill-informed”; I wrote ill-formed. “Ill-formed” is a horse of a different color. Hopefully, that difference improves your opinion of what I wrote.

PS: Arrgh - The correct speeling is “non sequitur”, not the “non sequitor” that I originally wrote.

ok well that does make a slight difference. i sometimes have trouble with similar spellings lol. but you still make his question seem illogical, but if you think about it it isn’t the most ridiculous question to ask. There are many sports that have adapted to imbalances in the rules as well as many games as well. We all know that rules are final but if something seems exceedingly unfair, it is not unheard of for competitions to modify the rules

In most cases, the above statements are true. There are some fairly black and white rules, but there are others that are left open to interpretation. I would expect that the ruling on the ‘open to interpretation’ rules brings fairness into play.

Bottom line, to protect yourself, make sure you’ve covered on all sides. If you can give a solid argument, this being pointing to a rule in the book, then there’s no reason a referee shouldn’t see things your way.

If you do think a certain action or design is pushing the boundaries of a rule, then post a question in the official Q&A, and have a copy with you at the competition.

  • Sunny G.

I would think most vex teams would respond with respect rather than anger. When green eggs dumped goals in round up, everyone thought it was awesome. Even if they just lost a match to them. I would think that coming up with a creative solution to the game shouldnt make enemies for you. but thats just me.

when i first thought of this method, i predicted that some teams may think that this is “unfair” and complain
therefore i asked this in the Q+A
and we had a printout of that thread for the refs to see when they were inspecting our robot
and we followed through the design and we had a great product :slight_smile:

I don’t think that counts at all. I really don’t think moving the “movable weighted bases” could be seen as being at all unfair.

Re unfair strategies: Round-up Prescore is an interesting example
It was done in competition, then asked in Q&A and approved, therefore “fair”
Then occasionally mis-used (stacking above 18") in competition.

Naturally this year, various teams evaluated the potential for prescore, and asked in the Q&A early. In this case, Game team for Gateway disapproved the concept of prescore, and created a manual update to explicitly list it and exclude it. “unfair”