A friend of Lord Kelvin’s, @-459° wrote:
First, thanks for coming out to help.
Next, you’ve hit an area that requires some explanation. Note that this is entirely unofficial, and the official ruling, when given, may be crisp and seem absolute. But the skills matches aren’t run that way because it is nigh unto impossible to do so.
Here’s the situation: The person introducing the driver control loads onto the Alliance starting tile is supposed to do so by momentarily breaking the plane of the field perimeter. What this means is that it is probably a violation for the loader to hold the loads in place awaiting the robot. However, in my experience, I have never seen a team called for this, likely because it is usually a judgement call. How long is too long? How long does it take to give a score-affecting advantage? Sometimes, the loader just puts the object in and keeps his/her hands in a position that breaks the plane for a couple of seconds, but does so in a way that could not positively affect the score. My daughter loads for her team, and she sometimes does this. I tell her not to, she looks concerned and remorseful, and doesn’t do it for a while. If they were called every time it happened… well, they would have fewer skills runs recorded. Probably still the same overall score, due to the way the runs work.
I suspect an egregious violation of this rule would be called, but it’s not clear what the penalty would be. There is no penalty for being warned once. It is only after repeated warnings that a referee would disqualify you. This is entirely up to the offical running the field. Often, the “official” is a high school kid sitting at a table running the Tournament Manager software. The teams very often know much more about the game than does the “official” in that case. This is not a criticism; it’s what makes the game do-able. If we had to pay people to run this game, registration fees would be hundreds per team for every tournament.
Going further, if a team is disqualified in a skills run, I assume you would lose the points from that particular run, not the points from every run you make that day. I also think it’s unlikely they would prevent you from getting in line and running skills again, so long as you hadn’t reached the total number of runs allowed.
So, although it’s probably against the rules, because of the way the rules are written concerning penalties and the practicality of how skills fields are run, it is not usually called. In my experience.
This is not to say there won’t be crisp and absolute interpretation and enforcement of this at Worlds; that could well be the case. But they will have more staff, and people who are in town for several days just for the event, and training before the event. So the officials will be able to focus on being a referee.
Your question about adults working on robots is answered in a couple of places. Here’s a thread where it was discussed.