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  • "INTO ORBIT" Robot Game Rules and Field Setup discussions

    A general forum for discussing field setup and robot game rules. Questions about Mission rules should be in their separate forums.
    FIRST LEGO League Mentor and Referee/Head Referee since 2011.

  • #2
    I'd like to start with a re-hash of an issue that happened in last year's State Championships where I was the head referee. For those who read my posts about this after last season, I've learned more and have (with help from my regional partner Loridee and Global Head Referee Alan) resolved my uncertainties about the issue.

    Hopefully a summary of this issue will be helpful to others, because it clarifies a situation that requires some rules analysis before it becomes clear.

    Thanks to Alan and Loridee for the clarifications, and if I have stated any of this incorrectly, please reply with corrections.

    The situation:
    - During a match, the robot was out on the field doing missions, then drove itself back completely in-base and stopped.
    - The refs learned after the match that the robot's software had started a timer delay of several seconds.
    - One of the Technicians loaded a mission model on top of the robot, without directly touching the Robot itself.
    - The robot's timer expired and the Robot began moving again, to depart Base.

    The table referee ruled this an illegal Launch, and I agreed. The reasoning is:
    • Loading the mission model onto the robot was an Interaction.
    • That is an Interruption which requires a re-launch.
    • The referee did not observe that the team either "touched a button or signaled a sensor", so when the robot started moving again, that was not a legal launch. The referee used their GP5 privileges and required the team to launch the robot again.
    The team did not initially agree with the ruling, so there was a heartfelt discussion about it. During the match the team attempted to re-run that mission sequence several times, and the referee ruled it an illegal launch each time. That used up most of the team's match time, so it was frustrating for everyone.

    One of the team's concerns is that they had used the same method during their qualifier tournament and the first two rounds of the state championships, without any rulings of an illegal launch. That is regrettable, but I think happened because the issue is a subtle one that involves several rule interactions.

    The team did not consider that placing a mission model on top of the robot was an interruption, because they seemed to focus on not touching the robot, where the D09 Interruption rule regards interaction. The refs explained that placing a model on the robot was an interaction, and therefore an Interruption, and a restart was required (R14)

    The method of the robot's restart was also a concern for the referees. The team felt that since the robot was still completely-in base, that no re-start was required. When the robot started moving spontaneously soon after the model was placed on top (due to the EV3 timer expiring), the referees did not think that the team had taken any action that made the launch legal (R13 touch a button or signal a sensor). The refs did not know the robot was using a timer, and there was no time during the match for the refs and team members to have a design review.

    There has been a debate on the Forums previously regarding this issue - whether a timer can serve as a sensor for purposes of signaling a launch (interpretation of R13).

    The clarified ruling I have now learned is "No, a timer running in the software cannot be used as a sensor to launch the robot". There are several reasons:
    • R14 requires that the team "stop it immediately" when an Interruption happens. This includes stopping the code that would execute after the timer expires.
    • The timer inside the controller is not included in the list of "external sensors" listed in R04.
    • The list of actions the team must take to restart the robot are clear - R14 "touch a button" or "signal a sensor" . These are definite actions that the referee can observe.
    So, it appears (thank goodness) that the refs at the state championship made the right ruling, and were able to accurately explain the ruling to the team so they learned from the experience.

    I'll be adding a few words to this season's referee training materials about the use of timers, and maybe send the regional teams a reminder that timers are not sensors under R13.

    I'll appreciate anyone else's thoughts on this (too long) story.
    Last edited by Tom Mosher; 08-07-2018, 06:43 PM.
    FIRST LEGO League Mentor and Referee/Head Referee since 2011.

    Comment


    • #3
      Although this is a corner case, it does come up, and there are two interpretations - so please be patient while we come to an agreement (but please do add your thoughts, as Tom requested).

      Comment


      • #4
        Great write up.

        I too believe the above timer-example is an interaction, and that a "touch" is not required to incur R14. Dean H. provided a thought once I really liked to help define "interrupt", which was something like: if the results out on the field would have been different if the humans left the room after launch...then there must be some interaction/interruption involved.

        A similar scenario could perhaps involve a light/color sensor. Robot legally launches and eventually comes "driving by" close to base. The technician has legally placed a LEGO wall in base by hand. But at a position where the robot can detect its presence or color, etc. The robot then makes decision A or B based on that "influence" the human offered to it - even though the robot never came into base, was never touched, and the human legally handled objects inside base. I see that is just another form of "remote control", and while very cool and clever - is a R14 interruption in my opinion.


        And correct, in the timer example above - one has to consider both R14 and R13. Because if one agrees that hand-placing the object in front of the robot is R14 - but it all happens nicely in base, then there are no R14 consequences (penalty/confiscation/etc). One only needs to re-launch. And I agree, as written - R13 is explicit about having to "touch" or "signal" to make a valid launch. A timer is a code construct, not a sensor in my mind.


        I will make a minor thought on the concept on R14's phrase to "you must stop it immediately". I don't read that to mean it is required that the "program" be stopped from running, but merely any physical movement of the robot itself. I have seen teams using fairly sophisticated sequencer or master menu type programs - that when they "rescue" the robot (even at unexpected times), they have a method that just exits the current sub-mission code and returns to the master - often with information and data still intact. This is not always super useful in unexpected rescues - but planned events or plan-B concepts may often like to display info or make a beep or reset motor, etc - and continue under the same master program - maybe with adjusted values for a second attempt. Yes, data can be written to files for persistence, but the point being I see no text requiring that the code be halted and how refs would ever really check efficiently anyway.


        And yes while rare, do keep in mind when working out some final rulings on this matter - if future missions might be written like we have seen in past. That have a constraint or limit of what the robot can/can't do "between launches". I think the most vivid one I remember is World Class, there was a dial-machine that could only be turned one click or something in between launches. Top teams would setup bot to leave base, run along south wall, activate the model one click, reverse right back to inside base - then immediately leave again to repeat. At WF, Steve will remember the teams that added a ultrasonic sensor to the top and stated they were "waving their hand" over the sensor to trigger the next launch....but it wasn't - just a quick timer expiring. They added the physical sensor to appease the practice-day rulings, but didn't change the code to actually depend on it.

        Comment


        • #5
          The ruling was correct, but I think that timer-starts should be legal. I am not saying this was legal, but that we should change the rules to make it so. What harm do we cause to allow a timer-trigger start? As long as it meets the other criteria (completely in base, stopped, nothing moving), then it should be a legal (re)start. That makes the interruption ok/resolved.
          MA Head Referee since 1999
          Sharon Youth Robotics Association

          Comment


          • #6
            A timer is a code construct, not a sensor in my mind.
            I agree with this.

            I will make a minor thought on the concept on R14's phrase to "you must stop it immediately".
            I was also a bit iffy on what is included in the scope of "stop it immediately". But it felt silly to ask for a definition of what "stop" means. If you go back to GP2 and "common conversational meaning", that's not much help because 'stop' has multiple meanings.
            FIRST LEGO League Mentor and Referee/Head Referee since 2011.

            Comment


            • #7
              New topic: Possible error in the new "R14 - Interrupting" rule text

              If you read the text "IF YOU DON'T INTEND TO RE-LAUNCH...", it does not says that the Interruption penalty is avoided. It just says you can shut the robot off and leave it in place. It seems to be missing the key phrase "without penalty", if that is what was intended.

              As-written, if you interact with the robot by shutting it off and leaving it in-place, it is still an interruption and causes a penalty under P01.

              R14 also has an asterisk in the text "*then calmly pick it up for a re-launch...", but the asterisk doesn't seem to key to any other text like a footnote.The asterisk appears to be dangling there without explanation.
              Last edited by Tom Mosher; 08-08-2018, 06:13 PM.
              FIRST LEGO League Mentor and Referee/Head Referee since 2011.

              Comment


              • #8
                It says in the "Changes for 2018" section that it is OK to shut it off and leave it "without Penalty". Even though this section is not a rule, it would be hard to enforce R14 with this in place.
                MA Head Referee since 1999
                Sharon Youth Robotics Association

                Comment


                • #9
                  It says in the "Changes for 2018" section that it is OK to shut it off and leave it "without Penalty"
                  Good catch, thanks.
                  FIRST LEGO League Mentor and Referee/Head Referee since 2011.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    It says in the "Changes for 2018" section that it is OK to shut it off and leave it "without Penalty"
                    Now that you mention it, I don't quite understand what the added text there "... if it's done with intended Missions" means. I'm not sure if a team would ever need to shut off the robot having launched it for an un-intended mission, or why doing so wouldn't be allowed without penalty.
                    FIRST LEGO League Mentor and Referee/Head Referee since 2011.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      It just means "if it is done doing the missions you intended". I find that these little extra words they throw in are often the worst part of their rules (and updates). Locally, we require teams at our meetings to "declare themselves done" if they finish before the round timer and want to stop. If they touch before this, then it is a penalty. This is often done early in the season when they can't reach it and it will do damage or undo something if the ref doesn't stop it. But with this wording, I don't think we can penalize if they stop it and then decide they are done. But if they pick it up and return it to Base and then declare themselves done, I am still going to penalize that.
                      MA Head Referee since 1999
                      Sharon Youth Robotics Association

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        We too ask for a "declaration of being done" and have always allow a final penalty-free shutdown. Even thru the few seasons where it was no longer explicitly allowed.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by JackGregory View Post
                          It just means "if it is done doing the missions you intended". I find that these little extra words they throw in are often the worst part of their rules (and updates). Locally, we require teams at our meetings to "declare themselves done" if they finish before the round timer and want to stop. If they touch before this, then it is a penalty. This is often done early in the season when they can't reach it and it will do damage or undo something if the ref doesn't stop it. But with this wording, I don't think we can penalize if they stop it and then decide they are done. But if they pick it up and return it to Base and then declare themselves done, I am still going to penalize that.
                          Oh, I see, it's "all the missions you planed on attempting". Just a strange wording choice.
                          FIRST LEGO League Mentor and Referee/Head Referee since 2011.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Tom Mosher View Post

                            Oh, I see, it's "all the missions you planed on attempting". Just a strange wording choice.
                            But if they pick it up and return it to Base and then declare themselves done, I am still going to penalize that.
                            I'm not, in the first round they'll get a warning and some advice. Only a rookie team is going to make that mistake. A little forgiveness is part of making a good call.
                            FIRST LEGO League Mentor and Referee/Head Referee since 2011.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              It is an interesting philosophical choice. A little forgiveness is bias. At our local meetings, I operate as strictly as possible, because I don't know what bias they will see at their tournaments, and I want them to see the strict by-the-rules case. I don't see that as being "mean" or over-bearing. If they get used to strict, they won't be harmed by it. I understand your position, but any referee fuzz factor is a potential problem. The worst rules, and the biggest disputes we see are the ones where there is a fuzzy line. Remember the fuzzy base edge several years ago? That was a disaster. I want to get my table refs out of the fuzz zone.
                              MA Head Referee since 1999
                              Sharon Youth Robotics Association

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