Jack’s Judgements

Official Rulings by the Australian FLL Head Referee

Last Updated 11:24 pm on 28/08/2021

Important Note:

These are official rulings and clarifications that apply to all FLL tournaments in Australia only. However, they can be overruled by official updates from FIRST (found here). Check regularly for updates. Please note that the Cargo Connect Season contains rules that are 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!

Ruling #1: I’ve been working on the Railroad…

Question: M09 states that there are 20 pts “If the train has reached its destination, latched at the end of the tracks”. Is there any requirement that the train be on the rails for this condition to be met? There is no specific mention of being on the rails, but the common usage of “reached its destination” could be interpreted to require travel on the rails.

Quick Answers:

  • If the train is held in place by the latch, it counts, however it gets there.
  • “Latched” means we can’t pull the train north without the train catching on the latch

Longer Explanation:

My reading of this mission is that the train must be latched for this mission to count, but beyond that there are no requirements on the train.  Now, how can it be latched if it isn’t on the rails?  The way I’ll be calling it at events, and training referees to, is to pull the train towards the north wall, as horizontally as possible – if the latch stops it, then it gets the points.  

Part of my reasoning here is that M04 also refers to “reaching the destination” – if we rule that means that it must travel in an expected way, then accidentally flipping the truck, for example, would descore that mission, and that’s pretty harsh.

As to an inevitable follow up:  The train is the thing that must be latched, so we won’t be allowing transitive latching – if you place the train on top of some Equipment, and that Equipment catches on the latch, that will not be considered a scoring condition.  To be honest though, it seems much easier to just push the train down the tracks 🙂

As with all my rulings, if FIRST posts a rule update which makes a different call on this mission, that update will overrule this one, so keep an eye on the Challenge Resources.


Ruling #2: Helicopter Hijack (Updated 28/08/2021)

Question: In M08, is an active robot (within Home but without human assistance) able to reach up and extract the Food Package from the other table’s helicopter model? The rules don’t say that the other team has to activate the model to get the separation points, but the bonus is dependent on “both teams” separating the food package from the helicopter.

Quick Answers:

  • If you take the package from the opposite team, they automatically score 30 points, but you cannot score the 10 points from the “both teams” condition
  • For remote events, the opposing helicopter will not be scored

Longer Explanation:

First of all, it doesn’t matter if the active robot is in Home or not – if it starts in Launch and finishes in Home and is not interrupted outside Home, it’s performing actions legally.

The M08 scoring conditions are:

  • 1: If the food package is separated from your helicopter: 20
  • 2: If the food package is separated from the other field’s helicopter and is completely in your field’s CARGO CONNECT circle: 10
  • 3: If both teams have separated their food packages from their field’s helicopters: 10

Now, with this rule by itself the wording is fairly clear and suggests this decision:  if your robot takes the other team’s package, you could score condition 2, and the other team would score condition 1, but neither could score condition 3.

However!  R20 Interference reads:

  • “A robot cannot interfere with the opposing field or robot unless there is a mission exception. Points failed or lost due to interference score automatically. Collaboration is okay”

Since this action is technically interference, the other team will automatically score (1) and (3), gaining 30 points.  Your team, however, cannot then score (3) because only one team has separated their food package.


  • Scenario:  Team A releases their package and takes Team B’s package directly from the helicopter and leaves it in Home.  Team A scores 20 points, Team B scores 30.
  • Scenario:  Team A only takes Team B’s package and not their own, and leaves the package in Home.  Team A scores 0 points, Team B scores 30 points.
  • Scenario:  Team A takes Team B’s package from the helicopter to the Cargo Connect Circle and releases their own package.  Both teams score 30 points.
  • Scenario:  Both teams release their own package and leave them in Home.  Both teams score 30 points.


Since many of our events this year will be remote, and many teams have access to only one kit, I will be instructing the referees to not score M08 condition (2), and condition (3) will automatically be scored if you separate your own food package.  This is intended to provide a fair go for all teams, and is in line with the official ruling for the co-op mission from last year.

Good Luck teams!