FIRST Robotics Competition Blog

Rule Change!

Mar 03, 2017 Written by Frank Merrick.


We hate making rule changes in the middle of events! But we're seeing a real problem that needs to be fixed and we think you will mostly like this change anyway.


S07-C says pilots can't reach outside the port. Traditionally, we have rules that minimize the chance that someone will come in contact with a robot while a match is going on, so this rule made sense, especially as it seemed pretty easy to avoid violating it. However, in Team Update 14, we added a feature to the airship that ensured handles of the carriage assemblies (which are used to get gears up to the pilots) could not be lost overboard. This change fixed this one problem but inadvertently made manipulating the carriage without at least occasionally reaching outside the port, and so breaking the rule, harder.


As a result, we were seeing many yellow cards being called on teams today, even leading to a handful of red cards. This didn't seem right, under the circumstances, so we're fixing it on the fly. The exact wording of the change will be included in the team update, but essentially incidental and brief excursions outside the port required to manipulate the carriage assembly will not be penalized, though at no time may a pilot reach below the deck of the airship.


This rule will be put in place effective tomorrow, Saturday, March 4th. Head Refs will announce it to teams at events in the morning. Also, we are undoing all cards that we are certain got assigned to teams today for S07-C violations that would not have been violations if this rule tweak had been in place. As a result, you may see some rankings jump around tonight or tomorrow morning, as red cards get cleared - so be ready!


Again, this is not necessarily the exact wording of the change that will be made to the manual next week, but it will be something along these lines.


Sorry for making this change in the middle of events, but we do think it was best for the community that we do so.



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Our team decided to follow the rules and chose NOT reach outside the airship, even though it would have benefited us. We did drop multiple gears by making this choice, although it would have been much easier to ignore this inconvenient rule. I can agree with changing a bad rule. I understand it was a difficult decision. However, to do this mid-event, and wose yet rescind penalties against those who chose to not follow them, is very irresponsible and unfair to those who did follow them!!!! Our team would have been better off (not morally, but from a points perspective) to disregard those rules and do whatever it takes to score, however, we chose to do the right thing. As did most teams. We were rewarded with a disadvantage to those few teams who chose to disregard the rules. It is hard to explain how that is fair to me as a mentor, much less to a high school kid. They were penalized for not cheating! Ungracious and unprofessional!!!

Good call! I was very surprised to see so many yellow cards over the weekend and wondered why it was happening. Thanks for taking swift action to make thigs more fair for all teams!

I have just a general comment about penalties. Please show me ANY sport where a team receives a penalty where the officials REFUSE to note the specific rule violation. I can think of only one, FIRST FRC. Teams really do work hard to avoid penalties. But that is not always possible. FIRST's refusal to point out the reason a team recieves a penalty is not going to help a team correct their behavior. Nor is this policy in any way consistent with FIRST's Gracious Professionalism mantra. How about we make a global change and make clear the specific rule violation so ALL teams can learn and improve their sportsmanship in our FIRST FRC competitions.

I can understand your frustration as we all enjoy the "C" in FRC. But it is not the most important letter (See recycle rush). There is a certain logic to what you are saying and I can appreciate that argument.  But at the same time I am not feeling gracious professionalism. Your team can learn valuable lesions simply based on how you respond to this "injustice."  There are as many lessons to be learned from loosing as there are from winning. With respect to the comment about "show me another sport.... " Other sports are not as new as this years game. Every sport has gone under many revisions. Most were probably early on in its adoption. I hope you can find it in your heart to at least understand the ruling even if you disagree. Your example will be instrumental  in how your team views this experience. 

I was surprised and disappointed to learn that a yellow card (or red card) is not an automatic foul.  We just encountered a match where an entire alliance was assessed a yellow card for shutting down a feature of the game.  However, the yellow card comes with no point penalties; only fouls (and tech fouls) include that.  As a result, despite the entire alliance receiving a yellow card, they won a close match.  It doesn't seem right that the alliance impacted by the offense does not receive any points to "compensate" for being fouled.  It seems like a flaw in the game -- at times, it might encourage a team in later rounds to accept a yellow card.

Our team was penalized yesterday for this exact violation (4908). It was even described by the ref as "borderline". This DQ'd a win because we got a previous yellow for launching a gear, when in fact a gear had gotten into our shooter and flew out when the team shot fuel. This seems like 2 improper interpretations. 

And finally, why on earth does a team carry a yellow after being DQd for 2 yellows? Maybe that would make sense if the DQ had no impact (like the team lost the match and therefore didn't forfeit any RP's). Even in soccer a red card only keeps you out of the next game and is then erased.

What the team "learned" is human error on the part of refs can't be planned for. I don't think this is the intent of this program. As an engineer for 40 years, I can attest that they will learn this lesson in the workplace!

423 was red carded twice for these violations, but our score seems not to have been recalculated.  On Sunday, we found that several of our alliance partners were reluctant to supply airmen, apparently fearing penalties.

For instance, we were on the winning side of the highest scoring match of the day.  

Also a comment on the ergonomics of the airship.  Both of our human players had to tip-toe to place the first gear and neither was able to both hold up the bar that raises the gears and reach the gear itself at the same time.  This resulted in their lunging to reach for the gear itself.

I was extremely perplexed with the quarterfinals when 533 was tipped over for most of the game and their alliance Hurricanes were experiencing technical difficulty, both received a yellow card negating the entire teams score. The 2nd quarter final, the same ref despite their alliance winning points was reduced to zero a zero for another yellow card against I don’t know who or for what.  They went from winning to a zero point value.  The first place team gets a yellow card in the quarterfinals and  nothing happens.  Please advise.


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