legal interaction during programming

I helped run a skills-only event yesterday and a question came up about “legal interaction with robots” during the programming skills challenge. Here’s what happened:

A team at the skills event activated their robot to begin the programming run. After it completed its first task, the student grabbed the robot and moved it to the other side of the fence to the other legal starting position (which I know to be allowable). Before the student activated the 2nd part of the program, however, he manually lowered the arm of the robot in order to align the intake to the correct height for phase two.

After seeing that interaction, I stopped the team and told them they could re-position the physical location of the robot, but could not manipulate the arm or intake system. The teacher/coach asked for clarification and I looked through the rules to try to find where that is mentioned. I couldn’t find it, specifically, but did find the following that I felt related: [INDENT]Robot Skills Challenge Rules - Please note that all rules from “The Game” section of the manual apply to Robot Skills unless otherwise specified"

**PSC1 (and PSC1a) **- A team may handle their robot as many times as they want during a Programming Skills Match. Upon handling the robot, it must be immediately brought back to a legal starting position.

G14 - If a Robot goes completely out of bounds, gets stuck, tips over, or otherwise is in need of assistance, the Drivers may retrieve or reset the robot…This rule is intended to help teams keep their robots functional during the match. It 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 in a match. **(bold/underline used for emphasis).

I told the teacher/coach that rule G14 applied during the skills challenges since "all rules from the game section applied (as stated) and that the movement of the robot arm was a “strategy to gain an advantage.”[/INDENT] The team ended up changing their program to include code to lower the arm automatically and they ended up doing very well anyway.

I feel pretty confident in how I interpreted the rules, but I came home to check the forum for clarification (thinking there would certainly have been talk about this). Since I couldn’t find clarification, I thought I should ask to make sure I had the rule correct.

So…that is a lengthy post to ask the following question: While participating in VEX IQ programming skills, can teams manually manipulate the arm or other functioning parts of the robot in order to re-position for other parts of the program?

Our state championship is coming up in a few weeks and I’m sure I’ll see this team again. I’d like to be able to share with the team the “official” answer to the question.


Thank you for your detailed post and for volunteering as a referee. To answer your question, yes, this is legal.