FIRST Robotics Competition Blog

Mods to Referee Communication

Feb 23, 2016 Written by Aidan F. Browne, Ph.D. and FIRST Robotics Competition Chief Referee

Today's second blog is a guest blog from FIRST Robotics Competition Chief Referee, Aidan Browne, Ph.D.

We have made a number of modifications to the way the field management system and the Audience Screens are used this year, in order to give a more understandable and consistent audience experience. One of our major goals for the year is to get final scores displayed to the audience within seconds after the buzzer (it has been very confusing in the past to have a score on the screen in the closing seconds of a Match that then disappears for a minute or so after the buzzer, then is replaced with a different score). We are also making efforts to always have the scoring banner present at the bottom of the screen. This will allow us to display timeout clocks, issued cards and other information via the audience screen. We know there will be occasional instances when our volunteer Referees will need to double-check something, or have a quick discussion, so we have also added a Match Review icon to indicate the score is under review. Another change is we have created more friendly bracket displays during the Playoffs.

As part of this overall experience improvement, we had to make modifications to the way that Referees do their jobs. Their operational procedures have been modified to allow them to focus on the play on the field, get information entered into the system in near-real-time, and not have to spend valuable focus time recording details about infractions (because while they are taking notes, they are not looking at the field). A consequence of this is that Head Referees will no longer be expected to provide detailed information about Fouls and Technical Fouls issued during the Match (so they may not be able to say exactly which foul was called at a specific time in the match, but will be able to discuss how/why certain fouls are being called and/or why a particular robot may be susceptible to certain fouls based on its design or game play; as well as how specific rules are being called or interpreted). The intention is not to discourage people from going to the question boxes, but to evolve the pathway through which some information is delivered.

To get information to teams about what types of infractions are frequently recurring on the field, periodically Heralds will make announcements detailing which infractions the teams as a whole are incurring. (We expect that when polled periodically, that Referees will know which infractions they are calling frequently, without having to remember the details of which Robots in exactly which scenarios). The goal is to provide teams the information that will facilitate the mentoring of drive teams toward the common goal of reducing the number of fouls that are occurring at the event. Details of the more serious infractions that lead to Yellow and Red Cards will continue to be tracked and announced after the Matches in which they occur.

We will be closely monitoring the entire process at the first event taking place later this week, and will tweak the process as necessary to maximize the benefit to teams.

Good luck at your events! Hold strong!

Aidan F. Browne, Ph.D.

FIRST Robotics Competition Chief Referee

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