Learn the Rules …
Part 1: Introduction
Firstly, the teams compete with robots they have built in advance out of LEGO parts and programmed by themselves. Within 2½ minutes they try to solve the mission laid on the 2 sq. m. large playing field, to get as many points. The robot must act autonomous, that is, all movements must be independently by the program. Remote controls are not allowed!
Check this page regularly for updates to the rules. The current update is also available here.
The way in which the missions are completed, and the order in which they are solved, are not prescribed. Thus, the robots of the competing team should look completely different, even though they are all built from LEGO parts.
While while constructing and programming that there can be variations between the FLL Tournament Tables depending on local conditions. The variations might occur in the field borders, lightning conditions, structure/irregularity of the field mat. At many tournaments there is no opportunity to roll out the mats early enough so that they might be a little bit wavy.
Tips to counteract variety
1. Avoid control systems containing something that might rub on the mat.
2. Hide light sensors from ambient light.
For the FLL Robot Game, there are various competition documents.
The following order defined the precedence for the sources:
- FLL FAQ,
- FLL Missions and Field Setup,
- FLL Rules and
- Pictures & Video.
If there is conflict between pictures/videos and text, the text takes precedence. On all pages, videos and pictures are for guidance and example only. Often they can not express complete information, and are therefore misleading.
Note that all participants (judges, referees, teams) at the competition take their information from the same and the only valid official competition documents online at the FLL Website.
- Important questions are published at the “FAQ” section for all the Teams. It may be that the answers apply to all teams and additional arrangements are in this place for the competition.
- If you have any questions of any areas of competition including pre-arrangements with special strategies or situations send an e- mail to: email@example.com or a leave message via Facebook. You can also check the forum to see if you issue had been addressed previously.
- PLEASE NOTE: You won’t get help/advice about building or programming a robot.
- If a question does come up right before the tournament, your last chance to ask it is at the “Coaches’ Meeting” (if there is one) in the morning of the tournament
- The ref’s calls are final when you leave the table.
Part 2: Basic Rules
The FLL tournament should be driven by fairness. You are “Gracious Professionals.” You are competing hard against PROBLEMS, while treating PEOPLE with respect and kindness – people from your own team, as well people from other teams. You build onto other people’s ideas instead of resisting or defeating them.
- One FLL team consists of 3 to 10 members (coach and mentor not included).
- Each FLL team is supervised by at least one adult coach.
- The allowed age of the team members is from 9 to 16 years old.
- Robot game text means exactly and only what it says, so it should be taken literally whenever possible.
- Do not interpret text based on your assumption about intent, or on how a situation might be in “real life.”
- If a detail isn’t mentioned, then it doesn’t matter.
- There are no hidden requirements or restrictions. If you’ve read everything, then you know everything.
- The teams have to think in the following manner. If you know all the requirements and restrictions exactly, you realize that there are also a lot of freedom.
- If a mission is for the robot to “be on the stairs”, that doesn’t mean the robot needs to climb the steps, and it doesn’t mean the robot has to go to the top.
- If an ocean is drawn on the mat, but never mentioned anywhere, then you don’t have to ask if the robot’s allowed to drive on it… “Nothing says it can’t”.
- If a mission is for the cup to “be on the table”, upside down is just as good as right side up.
- If the robot must use a robotic arm to empty the trash, this will be clearly stated. If not, then any methods are fine.
- If the robot must “use a robotic arm to empty the trash”, it doesn’t matter whether the arm reaches in and grabs the trash, or instead turns the can upside down.
- The area around the competition tables is called the competition area.
- Before entering the competition area, your robot will be checked to see if it conforms to the rules.
- Only rule conformity robots are allowed to compete, the referee (the “ref”) adds up everything you have with you in your box, your hands and on the table.
- The FLL Playing field is were the Robot Game takes place.
- The FLL Playing field consists of mission models on a field mat on a table with border walls.
- It is placed on a competition table were the border walls are part of the pitch.
- The mat and the LEGO elements for building the mission models are part of your Field Setup Kit, the instructions for building are posted
- All details about how to set up the mission models after they’ve been built are in the FLL Field Setup Document.
- The fact that you can see on the field mat, which models where belong, does not mean that you know exactly how they must be positioned there.
- At a tournament, two robot game tables are joined back to back (Northern boundary of the playing field mats = center).
- Base is an imaginary box formed by vertical walls that rise from the perimeter of the Base area, including the inside surface of the border walls, and by an invisible ceiling 30cm high.
- The lines that define Base are in Base.
- Usually there is a gap between the mat and a side border wall… Base includes this gap (pictured in red).
- Anything even barely in Base counts as being in Base unless the robot moves it completely out.
- Anything in the team’s possession is understood to count as being in Base, and is okay to store or handle.
- A mission is a specified set of tasks the team complete to achieve point with the robot.
- In preparation of the competition the team decides the order in which to try the missions and how many to try with each program on the robot. They don’t have to try every mission.
- You may re-try missions when that’s possible, but the field is not reset for that purpose.
- If a mission is for the robot to topple a stack eastward, and the robot doesn’t reach it, you could try again later, since the stack is undisturbed. But if the autonomous robot topples the stack westward, since the stack doesn’t get reset, the mission is impossible to re-try.
- Each match takes 2½ minutes (150 sec). This is the time frame for the robot to solve as many missions as possible on the playing field.
- Two (2) teams are paired opposite to each other to compete in a match.
- At the tournament, only TWO team members at a time are allowed right up at the competition table except during repair emergencies.
- The rest of the team must stay back from the table, but close enough for different members to tag in or out as desired at any time.
- You may not use more than one robot in one match, but it’s okay to use a different robot in a different match.
Here’s the process of a match:
- The team get to the competition table and has one minute to prepare their Equipment and check the correct model placement on the field.
- The match starts with the signal of the referee and the timer runs for 2½ minutes without stops.
- After 2½ minutes the match ends with the signal of the referee.
- The referee takes the score, meanwhile, nothing should be changed in the field.
- The team and the referee are signing the score sheet.
- Every team drives at least three matches.
- Each match is a fresh chance for you to get your best score.
- No match has anything to do with another, and only your best score counts.
- If it is known in advance that there will not be another team opposite to a team, a volunteer team substitutes (without scoring for this team). If there is no other team opposite, the team competes against an empty table, they get the points for any missions they tried but could not complete because the other team was missing.
- If all the teams of a competition drove a match, a round is over.
- This is the time (one minute) for the team to get ready for the match.
- At this time the team may VISUALLY inspect the field, also store and arrange equipment, charge pneumatics, set mechanisms, select a program, load and aim the robot, and get everything into “starting position”.
- During your pre-match setup time only, you may ask the referee to double-check that a particular setup is correct/within spec, but you may not request any custom setup, in or out of the specified setup range.
- In preparation of the match you may calibrate light & color sensors outside Base.
EVERYTHING you use in the competition area directly or indirectly for strategy (mission-related activity) must be made entirely of LEGO-manufactured elements in original factory condition.
- The robot is the programmable LEGO Mindstorms controller and everything which was connected with it by hand (any method, any configuration), can separate from it by hand only.
- These are features which qualify as part of the robot while installed, but are not installed for the entire match.
- Strategic objects are team-supplied objects, either handled by you, in Base, or handled and abandoned by the robot (wherever) by design.
- You may use as many non-electric LEGO elements as you like, including pneumatics, rubber bands, and string, and they may be from any source or set (MINDSTORMS®/TECHNIC/DUPLO®/ BIONICLE™/STAR WARS™/HARRY POTTER™/etc.).
- Factory-made wind-up/pull-back “motors” and duplicates of the mission models are not allowed.
- You are allowed a maximum of one controller in the competition area in any one match. Choose one of the three LEGO-manufactured types shown here.
- You are allowed as many sensors as you like, but the types are limited to touch, light, color, rotation, ultrasonic, or gyro/angle. Choose your favorite combination from among the LEGO-manufactured types shown here. No other sensors are allowed.
- Other sensors, such as EV3 infrared sensor are not allowed EV3 infrared sensor (not even for decoration).
- The robot may only be programmed using LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3 (any release). No other software is allowed.
- Patches, add-ons and new versions of the allowable software from the manufacturers (LEGO and National Instruments) are allowed, but tool kits, including the LabVIEW tool kit, are not allowed.
- This rule puts a cap on software-related unfairness, and puts a cap on what we can reasonably ask tournament judges to become versed in – thanks for your understanding!
Notes to other equipment
- LEGO string and tubing may be cut to length.
- A paper list to keep track of robot programs.
- Marker may be used only in hidden areas, for ownership identification
- Only LEGO stickers are allowed, applied per LEGO instructions.
- Paint, tape, glue, oil, zip-ties, etc. are not allowed.
- Other electric elements or devices (e.g. computer) are not allowed to use in the competition area.
- LEGO wires and converter cables are allowed as needed.
- Spare electrical parts are only allowed in the PIT area.
- Objects functioning as remote controls are not allowed anywhere, any time. Bluetooth must be off.
- A box may be used for carrying and storing your equipment, off the table only.
- If the robot is in violation of the equipment rule and cannot be corrected, the decision about exactly what to do rests with the tournament officials, but it is possible the team may not be eligible for awards.
Part 3: Scoring
- Whenever the robot is inactive, you may touch and work on it e.g. repair it, aim it, switch attachments, charge pneumatics, select programs, reset features, and load/unload cargo in Base, or other storage areas.
- EVERY BIT of the robot, including its installed attachments & wires, and everything touching it, and any objects it is about to move or use, must ALL fit COMPLETELY in Base.
- The ROBOT may be touching objects it is about to move or use, but your HANDS may not.
- The robot’s program may or may not already be running, but everything must be motionless.
- If the robot is about to move a mission model from Base, you must be able to pick that model up and have NOTHING come with it (only do this if asked).
- You may design/use a LEGO frame/“jig” to aim the robot, but its use must be completely in Base at all times, and you must let go of it prior to starting/restarting.
- You may not mark the mat nor use paper for aiming.
- For the match start, the ref checks that things are in proper starting position, then signals your readiness to the announcer.
- As the countdown starts, you reach in with one hand, ready to either touch a button or signal a sensor to prompt the robot’s program.
- If a non-word signal is used, like a beep or buzzer, the start is at the beginning of that signal.
- At the exact starting time, you either touch a button or signal a sensor to start or prompt the robot’s program. The robot is now considered to be started and autonomous.
- For all other starts (called restarts), there’s no countdown. The ref watches to be sure things are in proper starting position, and you activate the robot whenever you like.
- If the robot enters and leaves Base with no interruption or influence from you, this is not considered a restart, so starting procedure doesn’t apply.
- Once autonomous, the robot can go and/or extend in any direction until the next touch and restart.
- Following every time you start (or restart) the robot, it is “autonomous” and allowed to perform.
- All strategic changes to the field outside Base must be caused by an autonomous robot (never by an offline robot, and never by your hands).
- Any time you touch the robot, no matter where it is, it is “offline” and must immediately be picked up and carried to Base (if it’s not already there). When you’re ready, follow Rules 2 and 3 to make it autonomous again.
- The robot may pass in/out/through Base, and if you don’t touch/influence it, you don’t have to restart it.
- If the (hand) movement of the offline robot will unavoidably cause/allow the movement of any non-cargo object outside Base, such as something being “held up” or “held back,” the movement of that restrained object (the chain reaction) must be kept to an absolute minimum.
- Allow the stored energy to dissipate slowly, over as little distance as possible.
- Missions obviously benefitting from hand-help are marked scoreless.
- If your eyes are doing the work of a sensor…
- If your window of execution for touching/interrupting the autonomous robot is conveniently precise… (3, 2, 1, GRAB NOW!)…
- If a new scoring condition is produced or preserved by the precision of the grab…and these things are obvious to the ref, missions benefitting are marked scoreless.
- If the robot needs to push a lever somewhere between Position 3 and Position 4, and you touch your “healthy” robot while the lever is STILL MOVING between those positions… No score.
- You may pick up fragments of an obviously broken robot any time, anywhere with no penalty.
- If you won’t be trying any more missions, and your robot is outside Base, straining its motors, and no longer traveling, you may non-strategically shut it off and leave it in place with no penalty.
You may not strategically place, send, extend, use, or affect anything outside Base by hand. You may not make any changes outside Base except by:
- Storing Objects
- a proper robot start
- removing your robot
- removing robot fragments
- shutting off your robot
- You may at any time, in Base, in a box or in hand, handle stored objects the robot is not currently touching or using, even if it’s not actually there.
- Stored objects are defined as:
- Anything in Base when the match started.
- Anything team-supplied, which the robot has not moved out of Base.
- Anything brought to Base by the robot.
- Stored objects are not allowed to make contact with anything outside Base except other stored objects.
- You may at any time handle stored objects the robot is not interacting with, including the placement of objects (completely in Base) for the robot to interact with during an autonomous period.
- Team-supplied objects held by members away from the table must be inspected before the match starts.
- Mission models and objects worth points must always stay in view of the ref.
- Cargo is any strategic object or mission model the robot has with it for transport or release.
- Objects that touched the robot accidentally, the robot has completely stored/ dumped/ released and therefore no longer in contact with these are NOT considered as cargo.
- Mission models are the objects that are already on the field when you walk up to it.
- Anything your autonomous robot does to your field outside Base (good or bad) stays that way, unless the ROBOT changes it.
When things such as a sleeve, table-bump, renegade offline robot, or illegal action disturb the field in a non-trivial way, the ref physically reverses the change if he or she feels that’s easy. In cases where the change is too hard to undo…
- If the accident was the team’s fault, negative scoring effects stand, and positive scoring effects do not.
- If the accident was not the team’s fault, the team gets benefit of the doubt on all dependent scoring.
- Mission models are not fixed or reset. Stray objects are not moved out of the robot’s way.
- Cargo the robot loses contact with outside Base is left/stranded wherever it comes to rest.
- So… The robot can ruin its own opportunity to accomplish tasks, and can even spoil previous results.
- Model damage is when a model outside Base is made defective and/or its Dual Lock is separated by an autonomous robot. (It can also happen when a fashion runway collapses!)
- Model damage is not repaired during the match.
- If a model is put into a scoring condition, but is damaged in the process, the mission marked scoreless.
- If instead the scoring model gets damaged during an obviously unrelated action later (even just seconds later)…
- If the scoring condition is still visible, it can still score.
- If the scoring condition is no longer visible, it can not score.
- Any scoring success which obviously depended on model damage is marked scoreless.
- Any model damage obviously due to poor field setup/maintenance is scored with benefit of the doubt.
- Interference is when your robot disturbs the other team’s field or robot.
- Your robot may not have any effect on the other team’s robot, field, or strategy, unless it’s allowed in a mission.
- Any points you or your robot potentially cost the other team are given to them automatically.
- If two robots become entangled, they are both allowed to restart without penalty. Any cargo involved is given to the team in Base, whether or not it has ever been there before.
- As a matter of luck, the other team might out-perform you in a competitive interactive mission, or might fail to help you in a cooperative interactive mission. The effects are the same, and neither is considered interference.
- An object is “in,” “into,” or has “reached” an area if any bit of that object crosses the area’s perimeter.
- Said another way… To be “in” an area is to penetrate the volume over or below what defines that area.
- Barely “in” is considered “in” unless “COMPLETELY in” is required.
- “Touching” is not part of the requirement for being “in.”
- Objects are ruled on independent of each other, and independent of their transports/containers.
Exception: A cluster of small objects is considered one object.
- “Out” and “outside” always mean COMPLETELY out.
- Only objects in direct contact are considered “touching.”
- Any amount of direct contact counts as touching.
- Touching is not required unless the word “touching” is used.
Exception: Only for the robot, an indirect touch counts as a touch.
- These occur whenever you touch an autonomous robot which is OUTSIDE BASE.
- Any time you touch the robot, no matter where it is, if it has cargo OUTSIDE BASE it didn’t have during the most recent start, the ref takes that cargo out of play.
A sprawl penalty occurs whenever you either:
- touch the robot while its max dimension is obviously greater than twice the (south/north) width of Base.
- touch a strategic object while it extends out of Base farther than the (south/north) width of Base.
A sprawl penalty occurs at the end of the match if either:
- the robot’s max dimension is obviously greater than twice the (south/north) width of Base.
- a strategic object extends out of Base obviously farther than the (south/north) width of Base.
- A junk penalty is given at the end of the match for each strategic object abandoned outside Base.
- Most of your score depends on the conditions at the exact time the match ends.
- The field is the evidence of most of your score… When the match ends, PLEASE DON’T TOUCH ANYTHING!
- At the end of the match, the referee gives the OK, that the playing field can be brought back into the starting position.
- The achieved points will be calculated by computer.
- The ref first needs time to record the condition of the field on a score sheet and come to agreement with you (kids only) about what points were scored or missed and why.
- Points aren’t given for results the robot produces during the match but then trashes before the end.
- Points are not given nor taken away for results produced after the match end signal ends.
- If you agree with the score, you sign the sheet, and the score is final.
- If you don’t agree, tell the ref nicely. Refs can be wrong, and when they are, they want to know.
- After a short discussion, if the ref is not sure about the score, the head ref makes the final decision.
Sometimes part of your score is permanently determined during the match instead of at the end.
- When a mission is required to be achieved through a specific method, but is achieved by some other method, it is marked scoreless. Please don’t try to show video to the refs.
- If the robot puts Model A into a scoring condition by destroying Model B, the Model A mission is marked scoreless.
- If the robot is required to drive over something in the middle of the match, the ref will mark the score for that when it happens, since no lingering evidence will be visible.
- Ties are broken using 2nd, then 3rd highest scores.
- In the rare occasion of a tie across all three matches, tournament officials decide what to do. Options include simply awarding multiple same-place awards.
- Please don’t walk away with mission models from the competition field, and bring them back quickly.
- You may get the benefit of the doubt when:
- incorrect model setup or maintenance is a factor.
- a split-second or the thickness of a (thin) line is a factor.
- a situation could “go either way” due to confusing, conflicting, or missing information.
- no one’s really sure WHAT just happened!
- This rule is not an order for the refs to be lenient, but for them to rule in teams favor. This rule should not be part of a strategy!
Part 4: Changes
- Rules are categorized in 3 rubrics now.
- A loophole has been removed: Picking up a huge strategic object left only partly in Base by the robot will now cause a sprawl penalty. See Rules 8 and 9 in Part III/ Detailed Definitions.
- A cluster of small objects is considered one object when evaluating “in.”
- The gravity test has been lightened up and folded into “starting Position.”