Jack’s Judgements

Official Rulings by the Australian FLL Head Referee

Last Updated 9:50 pm on 30/10/2020

Important Note:

These are official rulings and clarifications that apply to all FLL tournaments in Australia. However, they can be overruled by official updates from FIRST (found here). Check regularly for updates. Please note that the RePLAY Season contains a number of new rules which are VERY different from previous seasons.

Further questions  can be asked at the FLL Australia Help Forum, or Contact Us if you have a question which you would like to submit directly to the Australian Head Referee.

Rule Clarification #1: Read the Rules…and don’t forget the Updates

Question: Rules? Updates?

Quick Answers:

  • Official season Rules and Guidelines can be found here
  • FIRST issues regular official updates to Project and Robot Game each year.
  • Official updates overrule anything here.
  • ASK QUESTIONS if anything is unclear or confusing!

Longer Explanation: To quote a section of text that used to appear in the FLL Challenge Guide…

Teams who have read everything:

  • Have fewer questions
  • Have less rework
  • Have fewer surprises at tournaments
  • Score higher
  • Have more fun!

Rule Clarification #2: Robot doing the work

Question: Rule R03 says that the “Robot” does not include things which separate from the controller (e.g. things being dropped off).  Many mission descriptions describe “the robot” performing actions – does this mean an attachment that falls from the robot deliberately during a run is not able to score points for those missions?

Quick Answers:

  • The definition in R03 only affects the requirements for three missions – M06, M07 and M11.  Not many design strategies for these missions should be affected.
  • The “basic descriptions” of missions to the right of the pictures are not used for scoring, only the bullet points and blue italic clarifiers.

Longer Explanation:

First off, I’d like to note that the mission “basic descriptions” are not to be used for scoring – only the bullet points and clarifying remarks are used (see page 8 of the rulebook); for example, M10 Cell Phone has the basic description “The robot flips the cell phone white side up” but the scoring condition is “If the cell phone is white side up and resting on only the mat: 15”.  In this case, there is no requirement that the robot itself flips the cell phone.

Rule R03 defines the “Robot” as “Your controller and any equipment currently combined with the controller by hand and intended not to separate from it, unless by hand”.  This means that any ‘drop-off’ attachments, e.g. a frame designed to hold something up, is not part of the robot.

However, as described above, many missions have no requirement for the robot – in the example used, M10 could be performed by some clever contraption dropped off next to the cell phone which flips it using elastic bands! (Not that I would recommend that strategy…)

There are three missions which include the robot in the scoring conditions:

  • M06 Pull-Up Bar: the hang itself is fairly straightforward, but bullet point 1 says that the robot must fully pass through the frame, not just a piece of equipment launched across as in some previous years’ missions.
  • M07 Robot Dance: in this case, it’s specifically the robot controller that is the focus.  The rest of the robot does not matter, only your RCX, NXT, EV3 or Spike controller.  The Challenge Updates have a great clarification on this.
  • M11 Treadmill: the scoring condition is “If the robot spins the rollers…”; so, this mission will only be scored if the robot (i.e. controller and combined equipment which won’t fall off) causes the spinning of the rollers.  So, no dropping off a gravity-powered mechanism which spins the rollers while your robot does other missions.

All other missions are unaffected by R03, unless FIRST HQ posts an update to the contrary!


Judgment #1: Cargo

Question: Rule R17 says that things stop being cargo immediately after the robot stops touching it.  So, if my robot moves a mission model (e.g. the bench backrest) without touching it, does it ever count as cargo?  In which case, does R19 apply to it?

Example: Our robot removes the backrest of the bench without the robot ever touching it, but sometimes it falls partway into Home.  Does R19 apply (causing loss of a precision token)?

Quick Answers:

“Cargo” doesn’t have to physically contact the robot. In your example, R19 would apply and you would lose a precision token.

Longer Explanation:

R17 never specifies that something needs to be touched to be considered cargo – only that it stops being cargo when the robot stops touching it.

Anything which is “purposefully/strategically being captured, kept, moved or released” counts as “cargo”, and as soon as the robot is no longer touching it, it becomes “former cargo”, and once it comes to rest R19 applies.

So, if your robot intentionally captures or causes the movement of any loose Mission Model or piece of Equipment, either directly or by interacting through something else, that item becomes Cargo.

As always, if international FLL puts out an official game update addressing this situation, we’ll revise this opinion.

Good luck teams!