New GPS Field Code Strips required on competition fields?

With the new release of GPS (Game Positioning System) by VEX, will the 2021-2022 Tipping Point season require competition venues to install the GPS Field Code strips on playing fields? Haven’t seen anything on the vex website about it.

Would be unfortunate to spend 200 bucks on a sensor and not be able to use it at a tournament.

1 Like

The field code strips will be required on skills fields but not head-to-head competition fields:


As of now, it’s required by October 1 for skills fields, for the programming skills only. So you will need a gps field perimeter if you will be hosting a tournament.


I expect Qualifying Criteria to clarify what is required and when. This is the guiding document for EPs about what they need to offer for events.

1 Like

It’s actually in Appendix B:


It’s only required for programming skills, not driver skills. So, you could designate one or two fields as the “programming” field(s). This would of course depend on the demand in your area. If you are using competition fields for skills you could say they are for “Driver skills only.”


I think it being required for programming skills and not driver skills is pretty interesting. Several world class teams in the past have actually used an entirely prescripted routine in driver skills even though they were allowed to drive the robot. Now effectively running your programming skills in driver skills got much harder.


Yes, that is a good point. It also isn’t clear in Appendix B if GPS is only available for programming skills, or just that it must be available for programming skills. Is it OK for teams to use it for driver skills? Probably an official Q&A post need to answer that one.


Allowing it to be used only for programming skills but not autonomous is strange as well.
I believe many teams used some form of odometry even for the 15sec autonomous routine. So it doesn’t make sense to me that teams will need to use the usual tracking wheels and encoders for autonomous, and then ditch them and switch to GPS sensor for programming skills.


This at least is obviously a compromise between making EPs have to get a ton of GPS strips and helping teams. In theory GPS everywhere is better, but practically its less of a concern in the 15 second autonomous, and there are a lot of match fields at most events but only 1 dedicated skills field.


Here in Arizona it’s pretty common to just have the competition fields be used for skills during lunch. Also, although not required, I suspect some teams will understandably want it on the practice field as well. So no real savings there.


Common practice might not be best practice - late season EP should be ready to have dedicated skills field for larger events to make sure all teams have opportunity for 3 driver and 3 programming skills runs. lunch skills run for small events, but not great if lunch is 1/2 hour for 24 teams.

Hour of skills before quals start and closer to 45 minutes at lunch with two fields is plenty of time to get through demand even near the end of the season. Teams might theoretically all have 6 total runs, but if only like 5 teams at the event even have a programming skills run…


EP will be directed to give opportunity for 3 programmer and 3 driver skills runs for each team at every event.

So for 16 team event - 6 runs - 1 field - 3 minute for each run (set up and reset) - 288 minutes. You can say for MS teams early season none of them will do it - but later season 4.8 hours…

If you have two fields end of season and 24 teams or more - not going to work well for anyone.

Look the point is not to assume every team is going to do runs, but they MUST be given to the opportunity to do. So lunch skills runs late season does not meet that requirement if you are turning away teams. Note, that last point is pertinent - if your venue is continually turning away teams from doing skills runs, that is something to look to improve.

[edit - the criteria in the past is clear 3 programming and 3 skills opportunity for every event. That said venue limitations may very well diminish number of qualifying matches … so for EPs one should be ready to ask themselves can I do both a Tournament and Skills at same event? don’t over extend - not good for teams.]


Absolutely. If we didn’t have the capacity for skills runs between morning/lunch we would look into ways to expand. I’m not saying no events in our region have dedicated skills fields, if you’re running a 32 team event you need it, but even at those it’s common to also use the competition fields for skills in the morning for the added capacity and to warm up the volunteers. Which is my original point, I’m basically going to need one of these strips for every single one of my fields, even if they aren’t permitted for normal matches. I guess in theory we could have all the programming skills on a single field, but I don’t want to give my queuers another thing to keep track of.


How many fields are you talking about? if four max, strips are not going to break the budget.

I am hoping EPs will get one strip for season - it is easy to apply to fields with velcro based on KB articles.

Definitely less of a concern, but I do think it still matters.
I am looking at high level matches, e.g. worlds eliminations, whereby teams will be generally performing more tasks than the usual regional games. The more tasks or actions performed, the more you need a high accuracy and precision.
And all of us know that high level teams packed lots of tasks into just that 15sec.

But I guess since we have not tried the sensor yet. We will need to know the response time, accuracy, etc before we can decide if it is really meaningful/useful to be used for autonomous.

But I do get your point regarding the setup required by EPs.
Just hoping for a win-win compromise, rather than a lose-lose situation.


My assumption would be that only a small number of the skills runs at most small local events will truly need to be on a dedicated field with GPS strips, at least for this season. Perhaps EPs could be allowed to make a blanket statement up front that there is a single dedicated skills field that allows for programming runs (and I guess driving runs maybe?) using GPS, and that the teams are responsible for determining if they need that specific field and getting to it. Then the EP could run skills (programming and driver) on any available field as they might normally do for the vast majority of runs but still be able to provide GPS strips for those needing them (but only on a single field, at a small event).

If enough teams needed it that there was a back-log at the dedicated field, you might limit that field to only those requiring the GPS strips and have everyone else line up at the other fields you are using. Of course, if so many needed it that everyone had to be at a single dedicated field that has the strips you would need to invest in more of them.

[ETA - the assumption for the above is specific to the current status of GPS strips only being required for programming skills runs. Hopefully we’ll find over the season that they are fantastic sensors and everyone will want to use them, and they’ll later have it so you can use them at all fields!]


Yeah, $40 won’t break the bank. $40x4 isn’t going to break the bank. Given that fields are shared between events, this is going to cost something like $20/event if you split the cost out, it’s not at all a big deal. I was more just replying to the idea that limiting it to skills is some attempt to save money for EPs, when at least in our region, it’s not going to.

EDIT: I’ll also say that at least in my opinion, I don’t really like limiting it to skills. It’s a decently expensive sensor, and if only the teams that can afford to spend that for just programming skills are using it, that’s kind of an unfair gap for teams with bigger budgets. But I don’t know the RECF’s reasoning behind it, so maybe there’s something I’m missing.


Lots of things EP have to shoulder for quality events. I do worry about additional time for volunteers. I do not worry about certified Head Referees who understand the game.

1 Like

BTW, I got to see the GPS strips in person while watching the Vex AI runs this past weekend, and my concern with them is actually wondering how much abuse they’ll be able to withstand over the season. They are fairly sturdy with velcro bits and appear easy to put on / take off and not (I hope) prone to tearing, but they do stick out from the walls a bit and may be prone to people snagging on them as they lean over. Also, I noted that at the end of the event on the raised fields kids would end up sitting on the fields with their legs sticking over the perimeter in ways that definitely bent the edges of the strips. It will be interesting to see how much of that they can recover from without causing problems with the sensors…