FIRST Robotics Competition Blog

2023 Approved Devices, Rules Preview, and Vision Target Update

Nov 09, 2022 Written by Kevin O’Connor, FIRST Robotics Competition Sr. Robotics Engineer




Note: We updated the bumper rule (R408A) after this blog was published. Please reference this blog for updated information. 

With Kickoff fast approaching, we are finalizing the game manual and wanted to share some details about 2023 Robot Rules that we think may help teams prepare for the season. With the exception of a couple rules about robot size and extension, all of the Robot Rules in the 2022 Game Manual are marked as “evergreen”, meaning you can expect them to stay pretty much the same year to year (so you can use the 2022 manual to help understand these changes). That doesn’t mean we will never iterate or tweak them year-to-year based on community feedback. The changes highlighted here are the ones we think are most likely to affect choices teams may make prior to Kickoff. Expect to see a few more minor changes to the Robot Rules in the 2023 Manual which will be highlighted in Team Update 0. The changes we want to highlight now include:

  • Modify R302-E, to permit teams to use items created before Kickoff if they are “functionally equivalent” to a COTS item. Functionally equivalent items are items that closely resemble a COTS item in both form and function. Functional equivalents should be made using similar materials to the COTS original.
  • Change the color requirement in R406 from requiring a white outline to requiring that the entire number must be white.
  • Modify the pool noodle specification in R408-A from “2.5 in (nominal)” to “2.5 in +/- .25 in”.
  • Add a line into the tables in R501 and R504 permitting any brushed motor linear actuator downstream of a 20A breaker and legal motor controller.
  • Add a Blue Box to R602 clarifying that COTS computing devices are intended to be devices collecting or processing sensor information and simply having a microcontroller (e.g., a “smart” flashlight) does not make a device a COTS computing device.
  • Add Snap Action AT2-A breakers to R619, values 40A and below.

Lastly, we want to share an update to this blog where we first shared our plans to introduce AprilTags to the field in 2023. Following that blog, we received feedback from community experts and conducted further testing that led to a decision to revise some of the choices regarding the AprilTag implementation. We apologize to those of you that have already gotten a jump on testing, but we believe that this modification will result in a better experience for all teams using the tags. By changing to a lower resolution tag family, teams should be able to detect the tags from further away for a given resolution and use a little less CPU doing so (or process at a higher frame rate). The trade-off is an increase in false detections, which testing has shown can be mitigated by using an appropriate minimum size and more aggressively rejecting tags with bit errors. The updated information is below:

  • Family: The 2023 playing field will use tags from the Tag36h11 Tag16h5 family. There will be no tags from any other family on the field.
  • Size: The tags will be approximately an 8 ⅛ 8 in. square. This means that the black square is 6.5 6 in. from outside to outside and should be printable by teams on any standard printer.
  • Material: The tags on the playing field will be made from matte vinyl to provide a blend of durability and resistance to glare and reflections. Based on our testing, we expect teams will be able to reliably practice with printed paper targets, but there are plans to investigate making official targets available for teams to purchase.
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Will Team Update 0 include updates to evergreen rules in all sections or just robot construction? Seems like a really useful document.


The intent is that Team Update 0 will be released at Kickoff and will list updates to all rules within the manual.


- Fiona Hanlon
FIRST Robotics Team Experience Specialist 

It's great that we are using apriltags!

Just wondering about the reason for the switch to family tag16h5, at least in my testing it seems to create more false positives than family 36h11? 

Hi Tony,

As mentioned in the blog, there is an increase in maximum detection distance achieved by switching to the lower resolution tag family. This should allow teams to either detect the tags from further away, or potentially bump down in resolution (decreasing CPU and/or increasing processed framerate). The cost is the increase in false positives from the substantially reduced complexity of the tags. We recommend experimenting with setting a reasonable minimum tag size based on the size at the farthest distance you can accurately detect with your camera (i.e. the default settings of the April Tag library will happily return false positives much smaller than it can reliably detect the actual tag). We also recommend reducing the hamming correction to 1 or 0, while 2 is a good default value for larger tags, with the lower but count of the 16h5 tag a lower value is appropriate. You can also experiment with filtering detections based on the returned "decision margin" or adjusting other parameters of the quad detection. Example code utilizing soe or all of these techniques is expected to be released at Kickoff.

-Kevin O'Connor
FIRST Robotics Competition Sr. Robotics Engineer

Tony, the text does note the increase in false positives, but also gives the reason for the change (greater detection distance and lower processing overhead).

In the past, we have had 4" white numbers outlined in back and then outlined again in in white.  Round Table Robotics - Team 1792 (2017) - The Blue Alliance.  Question, are these still acceptable?  If not can the black line be left clear to show underling bumper material.  We have had the same number set up for the last 7 seasons (the entire existence of our team) and this would involve a massive change in our branding.  

Hi there, answers to specific rules questions will be provided in the Official Q&A when it opens for the season. If you still have this question after reading the final text of the 2023 Game Manual after it is released at Kickoff, you can ask using the Q&A system.

what is the color of the tag?

monchrome, black over white background. Is that correct?

Yes, that is correct. 

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