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  • Referee stopping a robot mid-ride

    Hi,

    Something very weird happened to our team on the regionals and I'd like help with understanding what was the reason.

    It was in the middle of the robot game, and our technicians were starting their third launch. However, just as they were launching, one referee noticed one piece of the satellite was hanging slightly over the edge. At that point robot already left the base.

    Then the weird thing happened. The robot was well on its way and the second referee ran after it and stopped it mid-run. Kids were confused what was happening and the referee started explaining about the satellite part. At that point the time was already running out, and since the satellites were only one of five missions the robot was doing, this effectively cost us 50-70 points.

    Since we never experienced this situation before, and since the language barrier didn't allow us to understand what happened, I'd be extremely helpful if someone here can explain at which circumstances can referee so drastically impact the run and what was the correct course of action after this happens - simply because we want to avoid this in the future.

    Kind regards,
    D

  • #2
    The rules define the requirements for a legal launch.
    The rules do not say what the referees should do it an illegal launch happens. So it is pretty much up to their discretion.
    The two possibilities are:
    - Stop the robot and have the team re-launch it.
    - Allow the robot to continue but disallow any accomplishments that the robot makes on that trip out from Base.

    Neither are very satisfactory.
    FIRST LEGO League Mentor and Referee/Head Referee since 2011.

    Comment


    • #3
      I think the ref's chose the better of two options. One of my teams experienced the disallow points option once and it is really confusing and very disappointing. Much better to have some chance at recovery.

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      • #4
        As Tom says, there are no explicit instructions about what the referee should do in situations like that.
        In our referee training we tell the referees not to stop the robot but to tell the kids what they have seen. This is because sometimes the refs make a mistake and stop a run that was OK.
        We rather sort it out afterwards. If course, the kids might choose to stop the robot themselves after the referee points out that the launch was illegal.

        What I suggest for the future is to study the rules well so that your team understands during the match what has happened. FIRST LEGO League rules are complicated despite FIRST's attempts to simplify them. Next season, if you have an opportunity to run your robot together with another team before the competition, then you'll be able help each other with issues such as these.

        Alan
        Head Referee Israel

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        • #5
          Thank you for the clarifications.

          What confused us was thar the referees reactions were hard to discern, and the interval between the launch and the stop was inordinately long. The exact sequence of events was like this:

          1) Kids launch the robot
          2) Senior referee points out something about the satellite, jots something down
          3) Junior referee looks confusedly at him, at the robot, at him, then suddenly runs after the robot and stops it; at that point the robot was completely on the other side of the polygon
          4) Senior referee looks slightly taken aback but then regains composure; kids are unsure what to do, whether they are allowed to take the robot or not
          5) Junior referee does not realize the kids are unsure what happened and explains something about the satellite kids do not understand (language barrier)
          6) run ends

          Had the referees stopped the robot immediately this would have been so much clearer. However the way this played out was a bit disheartening, especially since other teams had similar issues with the satellites, and all that happened to them was voiding 8 points for that particular satellite.

          Anyway, there will be more runs in the future, hopefully without these issues. Thanks!

          Comment


          • #6
            This is unfortunate. Your team ventured into the land of the unknown. There are several rules that have no follow-on actions dictated. You have to remember, the refs are volunteers, including the head ref. They are they to make sure everyone has fun and to keep things fair. They are human, and sometimes they have to make on-the-spot decisions for which they have had no training. Sometimes they make the wrong choice and sometimes they get it right. Trust me when I say this: the ref in your situation didn't like that any more than your team did. The ref knew whatever he/she did, there would be consequences, may have ruined the day for an entire team.

            My team has a rule: in practice, we are over-the-top critical of ourselves. Was the robot in base or not? Close, but definitely in on very close inspection? Not good enough then. Make sure it is OBVIOUS. do not venture near the land of the unknown. Do not expect that the ref will side with you. Make it so obvious that is has to count in your favor, and make that decision in a moment. Now, sometimes the robot at the tournament has a different plan, despite our best efforts. Sometimes the robot gets excited with all of the screaming kids around, and they get a little over-zealous. This can have the undesirable side-effect of venturing into the land of the unknown again. Thus leading us into your scenario.

            Really, the way to approach this is understand the ref made the best decision they could at the time. It is what it is. To prevent it from happening again, you team needs to know the rules and know them good. Very few teams read all of the rules. The FLL "Lawyers" here in this forum read all of the rules because it gives us things to debate and "what-if" to death, coming up with scenarios that realistically may never happen. But the teams.... nope. Take this as a lesson that knowing the rules will help your team. Try to do better in practice with your new knowledge. Make sure you never approach the land of the unknown.
            Norfolk, Virginia, USA
            2014 World Class Learning (coach)
            2015 Trash Trek (coach, judge)
            2016 Animal Allies (coach, judge)
            2017 Hydrodynamics (coach, judge)
            2018 Into Orbit (coach, head judge)

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            • #7
              Agree with above replies. Sometimes there is not a clear reaction plan to a scenario, or sometimes there is a plan but no education to the refs and volunteers, and sometimes there is knowledge but an over/under reaction by the refs and volunteers in the heat of the moment. The guiding principal I see for these is the fact that teams get to run three times and only take the best score.

              Lots of things can happen to make any one match subject to some complications.

              Locally, we try to train refs to prevent the launch if something is amiss to R13 et al. because that whole outing will be tainted. If refs fail to "catch" something and only notice as it is launching or after the fact - then the team is allowed to continue unencumbered. They discuss the infraction at the end, but the team keeps any objectives they earned. A headref can easily notice something a table ref misses, but they should only act on that if there is ample time and space to do so (in my opinion), otherwise you remind/explain to the ref after that match is over.

              Very similar to the old "gravity rule" or what is now R11. "Stopping" a team to inspect such a suspicion can be very costly to the team if then shown there was NO R11 issue. So refs need to be fairly sure before intruding.

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              • #8
                By the way, if you have a mission that you know ahead of time will come close to being an issue, a great way to handle it is to show it to the ref before the match. Tell them you have an attachment that barely fits in base, but you are happy to show them before the match when things are slower.
                Norfolk, Virginia, USA
                2014 World Class Learning (coach)
                2015 Trash Trek (coach, judge)
                2016 Animal Allies (coach, judge)
                2017 Hydrodynamics (coach, judge)
                2018 Into Orbit (coach, head judge)

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by SkipMorrow View Post
                  By the way, if you have a mission that you know ahead of time will come close to being an issue, a great way to handle it is to show it to the ref before the match. Tell them you have an attachment that barely fits in base, but you are happy to show them before the match when things are slower.
                  It wasn't due to the attachment, it was one part of the satellite which was hung on the attachment. And even that wasn't problematic, the issue was that one of the technicians slightly pushed it while starting the robot, making it swing, so apparently while the robot was starting out from the base, the swinging motion of the satellite made it so at one certain moment one of the pointy things jutting out of the satellite crossed over the edge of the field.

                  I understand that, bottom line, it was a mistake of our technicians. However I still think the punishment was a bit too harsh for the crime.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by ratnip View Post
                    However I still think the punishment was a bit too harsh for the crime.
                    The "crime" was having a teeny tiny piece of satellite hanging out of base. Well, it was out. Sorry, but it was out, and it was seen to be out, and those 50 to 70 points weren't going to happen.

                    Originally posted by Dean Hystad View Post
                    I think the ref's chose the better of two options..... Much better to have some chance at recovery.
                    Dean's point is absolutely correct. The referee could have chosen to let it run, and marked the mission as not scoring after the kids ran off the clock. What the referee did gave your team a chance of getting some of those points. The referee was acting in your team's favor.

                    I know. I've been a referee in just that situation. Because the team had been warned and explained thoroughly on the previous run, and because the head ref herself made it a point of telling me that in front of the team, I explained that I would NOT touch the robot, I would NOT hold my clipboard in front, I would verbally warn them it was out and would not score. I did NOT help them like your ref helped you. Earlier in the day, with a younger team who had a wonderful attitude, I did stop the robot myself and let them restart. Since I did it as the ref, no penalty, just a few seconds gone.

                    If your kids understood this: "The referee is their friend," it would go a long way to giving them a better FLL experience.


                    BTW, rules lawyers,
                    Originally posted by ratnip View Post
                    pushed it while starting the robot, making it swing
                    The satellite was swinging. Technically, the field must be completely at rest, not moving. I would never suggest that a referee enforce that in this case, I'm just piling on.


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