Jack’s Judgements

Official Rulings by the Australian FLL Head Referee

Last Updated 9:15 pm on 30/10/2019

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 City Shaper 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: Interrupting the Robot and Home

Question: If you Interrupt the robot anywhere outside Home you lose a precision token. Does that mean the robot would have to return to Home before the technicians are allowed to touch/re-launch it? Does the robot have to come to a complete stop in the launch area for it not to be considered interrupting?

Quick Answers:

  • The concept of “Base” does not exist this year. There is only the Launch Area and Home.
  • Robots must be launched from completely within the Launch Area (and under the height limit).
  • Robots do NOT return to the Launch Area. They return to Home and must be completely inside Home for the technicians to touch them without losing a precision token.
  • The height limit does not apply to returning robots.
  • Robot motion in Home is not important.

Longer Explanation:
The Rules that apply here are:

Rule 22: Don’t interact with any part of the Field that’s not completely in Home, except to Launch.
Rule 27: INTERRUPTION PROCEDURE – If you Interrupt the Robot, stop it instantly, then calmly pick it up for the next Launch.
Where was the Robot Interrupted?

➔ Completely in Home: No problem.
➔ Not Completely in Home: Lose a Precision Token.

From Rules 22 and 27, technicians can launch from the Launch Area, but the robot must be completely in Home before they touch it again – the Launch area plays no part in this scenario. There’s nothing about the robot having to come to a complete stop in Home – the kids can grab it as soon as it is in the boundaries of the Home area.

We’ve been in contact with FIRST on the use of the Launch Area and received the following explanation: “The instant the technician loses contact with the RUN button, the Launch Area loses all its status and becomes no more special than say, the middle or east of the Field.  It’s just another region outside Home, where you’re not allowed to touch things by hand”


Rule Clarification #2: Launch Area and Re-Launching

Question: Can the robot return to the Launch Area for the Technicians to prepare for the next Launch? In this case, aren’t you technically preparing the next launch?

Quick Answer: Unfortunately, once you launch the robot you can’t touch it again until it is completely inside HOME (not the Launch Area). Only then are you able to prepare it for the new launch.

Longer Explanation: The rules that apply here are:

Definition 09: INTERRUPTION – The next time you interact with the Robot after Launch.
Rule 14: You can only safely touch the Robot while preparing to Launch, or when it’s completely in Home.
Rule 27: INTERRUPTION PROCEDURE – If you Interrupt the Robot, stop it instantly, then calmly pick it up for the next Launch.
Where was the Robot Interrupted?

➔ Completely in Home: No problem.
➔ Not Completely in Home: Lose a Precision Token.

If you touch the robot after Launch, you are Interrupting it (09). If you interrupt the robot outside of Home, you lose a precision token (27). There’s nothing in Rule 27 that makes allowances for an Interruption outside of Home.


Judgement #1: Launch Area and use of Aiming Jigs (Updated 30/10/2019)

Question: I am a bit confused about how the Launch Area works. If a team uses an aiming jig in the Launch Area, is it legal for the team to pick up the jig after the robot has left the Launch Area?

Answer: No. You have to pick up the aiming jig before the robot leaves the Launch Area, or leave it there until the next Launch.

Despite us believing this question had been updated by RG09, FIRST has issued RG21 which specifically deals with aiming jigs. Apologies to anyone affected by the change!

Read the actual update at the City Shaper Challenge Page

NOTE: Due to the proximity of Regional tournaments, Jack Aakhus has ruled that he will allow leeway for teams affected by this change for the weekend of the 2-3rd November. During this time, teams will be allowed to pick up aiming jigs from the Launch Area after Launch. After this weekend, RG21 will be enforced.


Judgement #2: Some Technicians Have Big Hands

(Updated 30/10/2019)

Question: The rules are pretty clear on putting Equipment in Home/Launch Area after inspection. There’s nothing said about Technicians holding Equipment during/after a match – which means the equipment is not in Home or Launch Area. Does this mean there are no storage-tables at a tournament? Can Technicians lift Equipment out of the way so a Robot can return Home?

Quick Answer: There are no longer any storage-tables at a tournament. Teams have to store ALL their Equipment in Home. This translates into the following guidelines:

  • Before Game: All Equipment must be in Home or Launch Area
  • During Game: Technicians can pick up:
    • From within Home: All Equipment at any time. It can be held and carried as needed, provided it is only put down in Home or to Launch.
    • Outside Home after Launch: Robot with Precision Token loss, also any unintentional broken parts
    • In Launch area after Interruption / before next Launch:  Equipment in Launch area.
  • After Game: All Equipment must be a) in Home b) in the Launch Area (for a launch that didn’t happen) or c) on the field (after a successful Launch)

Longer Explanation: Rule 19 says “After passing Inspection, arrange your Equipment anywhere in Home for storage and adjustments, and/or the Launch Area for Launch.”.


Judgement #3: Raising Flags

Question: Mission 1 states “When clearly only one Robot is holding a Flag raised, only that Robot scores for that Flag”. In a situation where both teams are able to make contact with the lever, both score points. What happens if the second robot tries to push down the lever, but only makes contact with the first robot? As the second robot is not actually holding the lever, do they not receive any points?

Quick Answer: Any robot applying force that contributes to holding a flag raised receives the points for that flag. This applies even if the force is being delivered THROUGH another robot. NOTE: There is no requirement to use the lever to raise the flag.

Longer Explanation: Before we answer, please note that Mission 1 doesn’t require use of the levers, so there are many more variations here than mentioned in your question.

The Rules in question are:

Mission 1: Elevated places (Score all that apply)
 If the Robot is Supported by the Bridge: 20
➔ If one or more Flags are clearly raised any distance, only by the Robot: 15 Each Flag
*   You can only get Flag points if you get Bridge points.
*   Rule 31 allowance: It is okay and expected for Robots to collide while trying to earn Flag points.
*   When clearly only one Robot is holding a Flag raised, only that Robot scores for that Flag.
01. ROBOT This is your LEGO MINDSTORMS controller and all the Equipment you combine with it by hand, which is not intended to separate from it, except by hand.

This is my walkthrough to get the answer…

  • The scoring condition requires a Flag to be raised by the robot. The method doesn’t matter, and there is no requirement to make contact with any particular mechanism.
  • In the case you mention, the second robot is pushing down on the first robot, but is still contributing force that holds the flag raised.
  • As both robots are contributing, it’s not “clear” that only one robot is holding the flag raised.
  • Therefore, Flag points apply to both robots.

The consequence of this ruling is that a robot applying ANY force (no matter how small) that contributes to holding a flag raised receives flag points.


Judgement #4: Is there a Bat-Branch?

Question: The requirements for Mission #4 are unclear. What is Branch (B)? Does the bat have to be touching the actual brown LEGO piece to be supported by the branch?

Quick Answer: The Bat must be supported by the branch (the brown piece) – it can’t be resting on any other object or mission model, including the trunk of the tree.

Long Answer: It’s true that the Mission 4 text seems to be missing some explanation! The following rules apply here:

Keep these two special definitions in mind as you read Mission scoring requirements:

    1. INDEPENDENT – Not touching any equipment.
    2. SUPPORTED – 100% of its weight is held up and kept from falling.

 Mission 4 Design for wildlife

➔ If the Bat is Supported by branch (B) on the Tree: 10


My ruling is that the Bat Mission Model has to be supported by the brown LEGO piece that represents the tree branch. This means 100% of the Bat’s weight has to be carried by the Branch – the rest of the tree doesn’t count.


Judgement #5: Equipment or Model?

Question: Is the Structure built by the team for Mission 11 counted as Equipment or a Mission Model?

Quick Answer: Mission 11 Structures are counted as Equipment.

Long Answer: The following rule applies  –

    1. EQUIPMENT – This is anything you bring to a Match for Mission-related activity, including the Robot.

As teams have to build and bring their Structure to the table to complete Mission #11, the Structure is judged as Equipment. This has a number of implications, in particular when it comes to something on the field being “Independent” (i.e. not touching any Equipment). Anything your Structure is touching is NOT independent.

NOTE: In hoping to avoid a spoiled tournament, I’m going to be generous and make note of a specific implication of this ruling. Some teams are planning on delivering their Mission #11 structure to the same circle as Stacks of Units for Mission #12. Any Unit Stacks touching the Mission #11 structure will not be independent and will NOT be scored for HEIGHT.


Judgement #6: Endgame

Question: In previous years, our team was able to manually stop the robot before the end of the game, leaving it in place without penalty. Does that rule still apply?

Quick Answer: Yes – but with some restrictions.

Long Answer: Bear in mind this update:


If a new scoring condition is produced by the strategic timing of an Interruption (your eyes did the work of a timer or sensor), and this is obvious to the referee, Missions benefitting will not score.

Teams will be able to deactivate their robot without losing precisions points if the robot is not launched again (or moved from its location). If stopping the robot violated RG06, no points for that mission will be awarded.


Judgement #7: Rogue Robots

Question: What happens if the robot goes to the top of the bridge on Mission 1 and continues down the other side and onto the other table or falls off the bridge onto the other table? Would the referee instruct the technicians to stop the robot? Does the team lose precision points?

Short Answer: There’s really no quick answer to this one! That said, I suggest it would be a good idea to strategize with the other team before the match. If you’re worried about this outcome, you should work on getting your robot to the Bridge faster and stronger!

Long Answer: Bear in mind the following rules:

INTERFERENCE – Do not negatively affect the other team at the table except as allowed in a Mission description. If you, your team or your Robot prevents another team from completing a Mission, the Referee will award them the points for that Mission.

Mission 1 Elevated places 

  • If the Robot is Supported by the Bridge: 20
  • If one or more Flags are clearly raised any distance, only by the Robot: 15 Each Flag

You can only get Flag points if you get Bridge points. Rule [30] allowance: It is okay and expected for Robots to collide while trying to earn Flag points.


The only way Robot X can stop Robot Y from scoring Flag points is to be faster or stronger at scoring

Flag points. Robot clashes are expressly allowed in the text of Mission 1 by Rule 30’s first sentence, but all other competitive action is governed by Rule 30’s second sentence.

This ruling contains several separate answers – take note of each one.

  • You do not lose precision points just for entering the other team’s field.
  • If Technicians retrieve their robot from the other field, this is a normal interruption and loss of precision points occurs. Note: Retrieval must not interfere with the other team’s robot or field!
  • As per Judgment #6, you may prematurely end the game by deactivating your robot and stopping it – even if it is on the other field (if a team technician can stretch that far!)
  • If your robot enters the other team’s field and stops (such as in falling off the ramp or deactivation), it stays there. There is no interruption or loss of Precision points unless it is retrieved.
  • If your robot attempts to climb the Bridge within the allotted match time, but is prevented by the other team’s robot on the Bridge (even on your side) you do not score points. This is part of Mission 1.
  • If your team attempts to climb the Bridge within the allotted match time but is prevented by the other team’s robot being on your field (but not on the Bridge), your robot will still score Bridge points. It will not score Flag points, even if you have the ability to do so.
  • If another team’s robot interferes with any other Mission attempt (or de-scores any of your completed Missions) you will receive full points as per Rule 30.
  • If your robot enters the other team’s field and keeps driving, your team is under no obligation to grab it and lose precision points. However, anything it de-scores or interferes with is credited as per the point above.

I believe this covers every likely possibility under the rules. I don’t expect these scenarios to happen very often, but they are possible!


Judgement #8: Safety and Blue Beams

Question: In Mission 9, the Blue Beams can be pushed down until they make contact with the ground or the base of the model. If this happens, does this violate the scoring condition of the Test Building to be supported ONLY by the Blue Beams?

Quick Answer: I love short answers! If the Test Building is touching ONLY the Blue Beams, the Blue Beams can make contact with the ground and/or the base of the Mission Model and still be in a scoring position.


Judgement #9: Inspection and Setup

Question: The rules say that teams have 1 min to prepare for Inspection. How long to they have prepare for Launch after Inspection?

Quick Answer: Teams will have at least 1 minute to prepare for Inspection, then another 1 minute to prepare for Launch. Depending on the event schedule, teams may receive more time – but the 1 minute is the only time guaranteed.