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  • Robot self-alignment allowed during prep time?

    Per rule R09 - BEFORE THE MATCH TIMER STARTS. is it permitted to run a self alignment program inside the base prior to the match start? That is, can the robot use its sensors inside the base to properly align itself?

  • #2
    What does the team think about this question? What have they done to find and answer? What rules, definitions, guiding principles, updates apply to this question?

    As a judge I am often surprised by how ignorant many teams are about the rules. While a majority of teams are well versed in the rules and have a deep understanding of how the rules affect the game solution, a surprising number of teams appear to have never read the rules at all. This is understandable, who wants to read the instruction manual right after you unbox the toy? FLL is one of those toys where your enjoyment is greatly enhanced by reading the manual.

    How do you get the team to read and understand the rules? That's a tough question. I start with the the missions. Each time the team starts work on a mission we all gather together and carefully read the mission description from the rules. Next we take about 10 minutes while every team member tries to come up with 3 solutions which they write on note cards. I collect all the note cards and anonymously read each one. While discussing each idea we often bump into questions about "Can the robot do this?" or "Is it against the rules to do that?" I use these opportunities to show the team how I use the rules to answer questions that I have. Without providing an answer I point out how R09 applies to the question about "Is it OK to have the robot run a program in base before the start of the match?" and point out that "prepare" is not highlighted or printed in bold letters or italics or underlined, and there is no definition for prepare. Then I would point out guiding principle 2 where it says "if a detail isn't mentioned it doesn't matter". That may lead to the question "Why does R09 say that the pre-match preparation is the only time you can calibrate sensors any where you like? I would then point out R10. I also have the rules plastered all over the place. Every team member has a copy of the rules. I have spare copies of the rules available at every meeting. If I have a place where we display important information, like a billboard or a bare wall, I post a copy of the rules. When we store the robot between meetings a copy of the rules is stored with it so the first thing we do at the next meeting is pull out the rules before we can get to the robot.

    That is how I get the team to know the rules. I demonstrate how I use the document and how the information in the document is valuable. It has worked well for me. The teams I work with long term soon start using the rules to answer their own questions. You might pick a different way to teach the rules. Maybe a quiz show or a song. I'm not really creative when it comes to these sort of things, so if you come up with a much better way please share so I can borrow (steal) your ideas. All I know for sure is that the worst way to teach the rules is to answer questions directly. That teaches the team nothing except that they don't need to think.

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    • #3
      The feeling is that it is permitted because of the rule that says that things not explicitly prohibited are permitted, but the feeling is also that executing a program might potentially count as a launch per rule R13, "GO! Reach down and touch a button or signal a sensor to activate a program." The question is, does executing a program that causes robot movement in the base automatically count as a launch?

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      • #4
        Originally posted by cwm9 View Post
        The question is, does executing a program that causes robot movement in the base automatically count as a launch?
        We use a program to calibrate our light sensors. The robot autonomously drives on the board while doing it. Nothing illegal about what my team does for that.
        I think Dean already spelled out the answer if you look closely enough and pair that with the Challenge document.

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        • #5
          That is a good question. Pushing a button to run a program is not a launch UNLESS YOU INTEND IT TO BE. This is not really mentioned in the rules, not even implied.

          While the robot is in base you can do lots of things that you cannot do otherwise. You can touch the robot. You can rebuild the robot. You can select and run a program. And, of course, you can launch. Before the match you have even more freedom. Before the match you can touch the robot outside of base. You can extend things outside of base. You can move the robot around the mat and take light sensor readings or perform a calibration. None of these are a launch because the match has not yet started.

          The first launch of the match is carefully orchestrated. First the referee will verify that all teams are ready. Once all teams are ready the ref will start some sort of countdown. At the end of the countdown there will be a signal, visible and audible, for all teams launch their robots at the same time. All of this will be discussed at a meeting before the start of the tournament. After the initial start teams are free to launch their robot when they want.

          The method for launching a robot is intentionally vague. Years ago the launch was performed by starting a program, but that was found to be too restrictive. Maybe loading cargo on your robot requires the motors support the cargo. As you know, the motors turn off when the program ends. Maybe you want to string multiple missions together into one program to avoid time spent selecting a program. Gradually the launch method became the very vague and generic thing it is today that allows you to do almost anything to launch the robot as long as you meet all the pre-launch requirements. So now you can start a program without launching the robot, even in the middle of the match. The only action that launches the robot is the one intended to launch the robot.
          Last edited by Dean Hystad; 09-17-2018, 10:40 AM.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Dean Hystad View Post
            Pushing a button to run a program is not a launch UNLESS YOU INTEND IT TO BE. This is not really mentioned in the rules, not even implied.
            Thanks so much! That's an excellent clarification.

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            • #7
              Most years, there is mention in the rules of the amount of setup time that teams can expect to have. I would be a good idea to have your team STUDY the rules to ensure they are not negatively surprised on the day of the competition.

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              • #8
                Well, the way I read the rule is that it should be counted as a "launch".
                BUT, what difference does it make?
                1. Before the match starts, you did a "launch" inside the base, that did not seem to break any rule.
                2. During the match, the kids touches the robot after this "launch", it is an "interruption". But it is still in base, so all the consequence of this "interruption" is "re-launch". And who says "re-launch" has to run the same program again?



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                • #9
                  Originally posted by OllyLi View Post
                  Well, the way I read the rule is that it should be counted as a "launch".
                  BUT, what difference does it make?
                  1. Before the match starts, you did a "launch" inside the base, that did not seem to break any rule.
                  2. During the match, the kids touches the robot after this "launch", it is an "interruption". But it is still in base, so all the consequence of this "interruption" is "re-launch". And who says "re-launch" has to run the same program again?


                  Nowhere in the rules does it say that running a program is a launch. Many teams never use "running a program" as their launch. They start a program prior to launch and somehow signal the robot that it should launch.

                  There is a difference between saying "you can launch the robot by doing a, b, or c" and "doing a, b, or c is a launch" and it isn't just semantics. I can start a program without having to meet any of the pre-launch criteria. I can pick my robot up to get a better view of the screen to make program selection easier. I can handle my robot without incurring a penalty if it wasn't launched, even if the entire robot isn't in base. For example lets say I have an attachment that extends out of base until a motor raises the attachment into position. I start a program and press a button to raise the attachment. If starting the program was a launch then pressing the button to raise the attachment would be an interrupt and would incur a penalty. This is not the case because starting a program does not constitute a launch.
                  Last edited by Dean Hystad; 09-19-2018, 02:31 PM.

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                  • #10
                    For most FLL seasons, there is not much controversy over what constitutes "launching" a robot. There was a mission a few seasons ago that caused extensive discussions about launching and interrupting, but I don't see any similar missions this season.

                    I've never heard of any teams having problems running a self-alignment program that stays within base.

                    From the challenge guide for this season:

                    D08 - Whenever you're done handling the Robot and then you make it GO, that's a "Launch."

                    Last edited by timdavid; 09-19-2018, 09:21 PM.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Dean Hystad View Post

                      Nowhere in the rules does it say that running a program is a launch. Many teams never use "running a program" as their launch. They start a program prior to launch and somehow signal the robot that it should launch.

                      There is a difference between saying "you can launch the robot by doing a, b, or c" and "doing a, b, or c is a launch" and it isn't just semantics.
                      No. Actually there is clear definition of "Launch" as timdavid pointed out:

                      D08 - Whenever you're done handling the Robot and then you make it GO, that's a "Launch."

                      Originally posted by Dean Hystad View Post
                      I can start a program without having to meet any of the pre-launch criteria. I can pick my robot up to get a better view of the screen to make program selection easier. I can handle my robot without incurring a penalty if it wasn't launched, even if the entire robot isn't in base. For example lets say I have an attachment that extends out of base until a motor raises the attachment into position. I start a program and press a button to raise the attachment. If starting the program was a launch then pressing the button to raise the attachment would be an interrupt and would incur a penalty. This is not the case because starting a program does not constitute a launch.
                      That is allowed? I thought that would violate R10: "You are not allowed to cause anything move or extend over the base line, even partly. except..."



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                      • #12
                        I think what Dean was talking about was when a team is putting an attachment on their robot, with an articulated device driven by a motor, presumably that device may not be in the correct start position, depending on how the team programmed and built the attachment. When the attachment is first placed on the robot, it is possible that part of the attachment may extend out of the base. In that case, the team correctly knows that they need to do something to make the attachment NOT extend out of the base, perhaps by manually running the attachment drive motor (by manually, I mean the robot driver presses a button on the EV3 to move the attachment motor). This is OK, because it is not a launch (because they did not intend for it to be a launch) and there is a provision to help the team out here, also in R10:

                        Except: If something accidentally crosses the Base line, just calmly take it back
                        Norfolk, Virginia, USA
                        FLL Coach and Regional Tournament Head judge since 2014

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by SkipMorrow View Post
                          I think what Dean was talking about was when a team is putting an attachment on their robot, with an articulated device driven by a motor, presumably that device may not be in the correct start position, depending on how the team programmed and built the attachment. When the attachment is first placed on the robot, it is possible that part of the attachment may extend out of the base. In that case, the team correctly knows that they need to do something to make the attachment NOT extend out of the base, perhaps by manually running the attachment drive motor (by manually, I mean the robot driver presses a button on the EV3 to move the attachment motor). This is OK, because it is not a launch (because they did not intend for it to be a launch) and there is a provision to help the team out here, also in R10:

                          Except: If something accidentally crosses the Base line, just calmly take it back
                          I disagree. That really depends on how you think of the word "accidentally". If an attachment is designed to extend over the base line at first place then use motor to retract it back, it is hardly "accidentally" in my opinion. And there is also a rule that team should not use the benefit of doubt as their strategy.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I will concede that the term "accidentally" may be questionable in the use case that I provided, but the reality is we are going off topic. Apropos, but off topic. The OP asked about during prep time, and R10 is about "HANDLING DURING THE MATCH", and "match" is defined in D01:

                            D01 - MATCH A "Match" is when two teams play opposite each other on two Fields placed north to north.
                            Your Robot LAUNCHES one or more times from Base and tries as many Missions as possible.
                            Matches last 2-1/2 minutes, and the timer never pauses.

                            The reality is, that the only rule that has any "jurisdiction" during the time before a match is R09:

                            R09 - BEFORE THE MATCH TIMER STARTS After getting to the Field on time, you have at least one minute to prepare. During this special time only, you may also
                            ask the referee to be sure a Mission Model or setup is correct, and/or
                            calibrate light/color sensors anywhere you like.

                            During the setup time, you are pretty much free to do anything you want, anywhere on the table. Of course, you can't literally do anything you want (like remove a mission model from the dual lock and put it in your backpack, and a billion other silly things that aren't specifically called out in any rule), but the refs will give the teams a lot of leeway and will let them do whatever they think they need to do.

                            edit: PDF copy and paste got me again! This time I even passed the post through a text editor first, but some real quotes were in there and killed the post. Arg!
                            Last edited by SkipMorrow; 09-21-2018, 07:55 AM.
                            Norfolk, Virginia, USA
                            FLL Coach and Regional Tournament Head judge since 2014

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Another good question. I have a big attachment and while I am connecting it to the robot part of the attachment sticks out of base. Does this break rule 10? If not, is the reason because extending out of base was accidental or does it have to do with the attachment still being in storage? I know I can't have a jig or guide that extends out of base, even if it is removed before launch, but where is the line between accidental and not accidental? If it is intentional it is obviously not accidental. If I depend on the robot extending out of base until I do something to make it fit inside the base that probably breaks R10, but what happens? It isn't an interrupt, so I don't get a penalty. I can't launch the robot, but I was planning on performing additional tasks before the robot was ready for launch. Does the referee somehow disallow my temporary use of space outside the base? Am I forced to move the robot off the table, into storage, to do all my assembly and prep? How do things change if the extension out of base is not deliberate, but not really an accident either. My robot has an arm that it extends after launch. The mission fails and I interrupt the robot. This incurs a penalty, but does the long arm extending out of base break R10?

                              I'm not a ref, and I don't watch many matches, but I talk to a lot of teams and I've never heard of a team having a problem if part of their robot extends outside of base while they are preparing for launch. I've seen some really big robots that get a bit messy, but those teams tell me the refs don't care as long as everything gets tucked in neatly before launch

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