Rule Debates

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DieGracefullyRobotics
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Rule Debates

Post by DieGracefullyRobotics » Sun Apr 15, 2018 3:14 pm

After a couple of points in other sections, and the suggestion by Shakey that we should probably publish an updated rules at some point since it hasn't been done in a while, I thought I'd open up a thread to anyone to raise any questions/niggles/points about the rules in general.

Now, I don't want this to turn into a big argument thread like it has in the past, so a few points before we start: no debating of the weight limits or the 4" cube rule. These are fundamental rules for our competitions that are set in stone. Both have been debated to death across the 20 years and it always stays exactly as it is for good reason.

Apart from that, let's get a friendly chat going for anyone who would like to ask anything rule related.
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Re: Rule Debates

Post by AntRoboteer » Sun Apr 15, 2018 8:15 pm

There was a debate on the cube rule in Nanoweights and following on from that, Fleaweights.

Link to that is here: http://www.robotwars101.org/forum/viewt ... 4&start=15

The proposed solution is to increase size limits for Fleaweights and Nanoweights. I have had a rethink and believe they should stay as they are as particularly in the Nano class. The reasoning behind this is that the competition has been held multiple times with certain restrictions. Unfortunetely, a change now would actually invalidate quite a few competitions which have been limited in that way. The smaller cubes are possible to adhere to with some creative thinking.

One change I would suggest is that either a) Minimum arena sizes to be published for Antweights, Fleaweights and Nanoweights or b) Arena sizes posted for each event on the events pages of this forum

There hasn't been an awful lot of regulation in terms of arena size, presumably because every arena we have used has always been fine. However, in some cases, it is possible to enter robots which would actually not be able to move freely inside the arena. In this case, if the rules allow the robot to compete but the arena doesn't, who would the blame fall on?
Competition legal robots should always be able to compete unless additional restrictions are specified for each event.
Option a) allows for regulation of arena size across the board meaning there would never be an arena which would not accommodate all machines. The downside is that all edge cases need to be accounted for in those minimum numbers.
Option b) (preferable) allows for the event organisers to specify the restrictions per event. For example, if the Nanoweight arena is clearly shown to be 12 inches by 12 inches, nobody would attend the event with an expanding robot of those dimensions expecting it to fit into the arena. If they did, the blame would lie with them and the event organiser is not implicated.

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Re: Rule Debates

Post by DieGracefullyRobotics » Sun Apr 15, 2018 9:21 pm

It's not strictly true that there's never been any regulation on arena sizes. There were always size rules for AWS suitable arenas, as well as drop off restrictions and the like. Some of them have been relaxed a little over the years in order to improve competition, but there are still rules in place that would prohibit certain types of arena for main events. Its why I get nervous when I read people are planning to build one without getting their plans OKed first. I mean, I don't want to be against trying out new designs but they do have to accommodate certain conditions, sizes included.
For example, Peter's arena that is now widely used went through much forum debate and agreement before some of the changes were made to it in regards to previous rules and its worked really well because of it.

In regards to a nanoweight-specific arena, no 'proper' ones really exist yet anyway. There have been some good, though rather rough platforms in the past, but not really a proper nano arena, which would explain why there haven't been any size restrictions worked out yet. If someone wants to build one (I know Alex has plans) then the cube limit can be adjusted accordingly.
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Re: Rule Debates

Post by AntRoboteer » Sun Apr 15, 2018 10:17 pm

You're right, there are some restrictions for Antweight arenas. That's good to see. However, nothing of the sort for Fleaweights and Nanoweights so something to consider for future attempts.
DieGracefullyRobotics wrote:
Sun Apr 15, 2018 9:21 pm
Its why I get nervous when I read people are planning to build one without getting their plans OKed first. I mean, I don't want to be against trying out new designs but they do have to accommodate certain conditions, sizes included.
Completely agree. The rules definitely need to be updated to become in line with the expectations of the community regarding arenas.

I really like the way Pete engineered his arena with feedback from the forum and (as I'm sure we can all agree) an excellent arena has come as a result. It would be good if the way Pete's arena was built became common practise for all arena building but I guess you cannot put a rule on that.

Before an event is run in a new arena, it would be good for details about the arena the event will be run in to be posted and approved by the community to prevent any issues such as we have had in the past (such as debates about which arenas are favourable to which weapon types).

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Re: Rule Debates

Post by GeorgeR » Sun Apr 15, 2018 11:11 pm

A few that I can think of that probably need looking at;
1) The arena rule regarding the 50% drop-off needs to be changed, i'm pretty sure Pete's arena doesn't meet this criteria, despite being widely regarded as the best arena we've got.
2) Add Nano's to the rules, there are no mention of them at all.
3) Add something about drones, as they are now being used (Robox 3d). The rule that was used at ant freeze 5 and aws 54 was that the drone had to make contact with the opponent in order to win. I guess it could be worded that any drones that are part of a cluster are considered the same as immobilized robots until they make contact?
4) Rule 5e, regarding tech checks, references earlier rules but lists the rule numbers incorrectly, eg. "sharp edges (2j)" whereas the sharp edges rule is 2k.
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Re: Rule Debates

Post by Ocracoke » Mon Apr 16, 2018 2:47 am

In addition to the multi-robot rule clarification I proposed in a previous topic (if only to make it explicitly clear), that being the following...
5g) A team may enter a maximum of four robots.
i. Upon entering four robots, three can be of any mobility currently permitted, the fourth must be either a cluster or a walker.
...I have the following thoughts:
  • Arena exposed drops: Perhaps reduce this to 25% of the total borders of the arena (though I've not seen Peter's arena myself, was this the one used at AWS 54)?
  • Drones: I suppose this falls more into a question of permitted mobility. My antweight arena (which I've yet to announce to the community here as it isn't finished yet) only has a maximum height of 30cm (from the bottom of the polycarbonate wall to where the roof should be) so would make flying in that pretty awkward but I guess most antweight arenas have a much higher roof height. However, therein lies the problem, how does a "traditional" antweight effectively fight a flying antweight? Certainly couldn't be a fixed solution to the robot dedicated to swatting, it would almost certainly break the 4 inch cube rule I would think though I guess axes/vertical spinners would be the most effective. From a point of view of permitted mobility, I have no objection to proposing to add this to the list but as to how useful they are... I'll leave that for the ingenuity of the builder. ;)
  • Weight classes/restrictions: Perhaps merge 2a and 2b into a table for ease of comparison and updating if required (such as adding nanoweights)
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Re: Rule Debates

Post by DieGracefullyRobotics » Mon Apr 16, 2018 7:35 am

This is good stuff. I'm going to take them in a weird order, ha.

2 and 4) Yes, the rules as published on here do need a good overhaul, not necessarily in terms of content but in terms of clarifications, wordings, corrections etc. I think the problem there is that most of the people who used to act as forum moderators and official updaters have pretty much moved on so the drive to stay on top of it stagnated. We can sort that.

1) The drop off rule for an arena was heavily debated when Peter modified his (excellent) arena. The low walls on 2 sides were added as a result. We also had a great arena made by Andrew and Scott at one point which, I think, ran more to a 40-30% ratio. The problem we found was sticking an official number on it because it can depend on the design of the arena itself what is fair and effective and what is not.
The conclusion reached was rather hard to quantify in a solid rule - basically there should always be a drop-off, obviously, and that it must be significant enough to be useful to all types but not so big that every fight lasts literal seconds (which used to be the case).
On an AWS day, time is a factor of competition too, particularly when the numbers of competitors show up that we used to have. If every fight goes 3mins, then problems can ensue. The drop-off was always there to keep things in check, as well as the other advantage that it gives any robot a certain chance to beat any other robot in the field. Arena designs and hazards should never favour one type of bot over another, of course.
The drop-off on an arena needs to be big enough to offer these advantages but small enough to mean that every fight is not simply a case of getting under your opponent and hitting forwards. That's sort of how the "rule" stands currently.

3) Drones! Interesting. The AWS rules have always featured flying robots as a sort of joke because it was never considered a possibility that anyone would be able to build one - how times change! Here's my opinion on it.
Drones should be allowed but under specific circumstances. I think a rule should read something along the lines of "drones are allowed but only an insignificant part of another machine." My proposal would be that, if someone wants to use a drone as part of their weight limit, to fly at an opponent in kamikaze fashion or to dangle something in the way that doesn't conflict with entanglement or to be generally annoying or to release the expansion on their antweight (the only current use and a brilliant solution) that it should be allowed. However, that drone does not carry weight as an effector in its own right. Basically, take Robox as an example - once that drone takes off and expands the main bot it is free to fly around and get all up in there but, if the opponent pushes Robox off and the drone is still active, the opponent still wins. That way, creative uses for drones are still permitted but they don't get to sway fight outcomes in silly ways. I would say that a rule such as this would declassify a robot with a drone as a clusterbot (so Robox would not be eligible for the 4th slot on a team but still eligible to compete) and it would also prevent someone just entering a drone on its own, but doesn't ban them outright. Then whether they make contact or not is immaterial to the fight outcome. Happy to hear thoughts on this.
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Re: Rule Debates

Post by AntRoboteer » Mon Apr 16, 2018 10:07 am

My thoughts on drones (having introduced the first into competition):

1) They are not possible to control easily in a combat scenario. Trying to fly straight upwards is near impossible, touch a wall and the drone is flipped over onto its back immobile or worse, no attack power etc. Entering a drone on its own would be ridiculous as there would be next to no way to affect an opponent.
2) Ability to make contact is a very big deal. If your drone is stable enough to make proper contact with any fighting machine and stay mobile, that's worthy of recognition; it's really tough to do! Therefore, I would say that if the drone has not made sufficient contact with an opponent before the main part of the cluster goes out, the robot is out. Having run Robox 3D for two events now, I can see that's fair for builders and other competitors alike.
3) They are not as simple as you may think to build.
-The motors and controllers had to be carefully selected and programmed in order to achieve any kind of flight.
-Then think about weight. Too heavy and the drone does not lift off, too light and you won't get enough in. I've found with 4 massive motors, 35g makes it off of the floor and into the air nicely. Any heavier and it's trapped close to the floor and the battery runs out in under 2 minutes. Heavier motors introduce complications in terms of weight and size (you would need better speed controllers for bigger motors and the weight increase is near exponential)
-Of course, we've already eliminated someone buying a quadcopter through the 'no commercially available vehicles' rule which was introduced a while back to counter the flood of hexbugs and RC cars. It would also protect against people buying small drones and entering them.
-It took me tons of time and effort to build the drone (Robox went through 3 design revisions before the first revision with the drone) and to be honest, it was only worth it to get the first drone in the arena. It's useless in combat. You could build nanos like many have done in the past which are far more competitive in a fraction of the time.

My opinion would be as such:
1) A drone can only enter as part of a cluster
2) The drone is required to make contact before the main bot has left the arena in order to even take the fight to the judges
3) Robots with a drone would be eligible for the cluster slot as they have permitted innovation. You could more easily enter a nano cluster than a cluster with a drone
4) The ability of the drone to move around the arena is the builders' problem; it's always going to be a huge gamble to have one on the team, especially with all of the spinners around

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Re: Rule Debates

Post by Ocracoke » Mon Apr 16, 2018 10:24 am

Personally, I would encourage flying antweights as a singular competitor or as part of a cluster. However, in doing so, certain arenas will effectively inhibit the use of such things because of their dimensions so if we want to encourage the meaningful use of flying antweights, that might require more examination.

Also, with a flying robot, what counts as "out of the arena"? :P

Regarding arenas, at the moment, we only cover the floor size at the moment. I agree that it is up to the event organiser to adequately describe an arena (up to a point) when an event is announced so that a roboteer can make an informed decision as to wherever to enter a particular robot into that event. I don't want the rules to become too stringent though as to affect creativity. Perhaps guidelines as to overall dimension sizes should be available with the AWS rules specifying a stricter standard?
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Re: Rule Debates

Post by DieGracefullyRobotics » Mon Apr 16, 2018 10:35 am

The problem I have is giving drones an exception in the clusterbot rulings. For example:

"All subsequent parts of a clusterbot must be eliminated for that robot to be considered out, unless one of the components is a drone in which case the drone will only count as part of a cluster if it has made contact with the opponent before either robot is pushed off"

is simply not a good rule. Its adding exceptions, it's confusing, it doesn't particularly work. I understand the challenges involved in entering a drone and the innovation they allow but rules should be simple to understand and fair for all comers. They are not necessarily there to encourage any and all forms of innovation.
You said it yourself, they are terrible for combat, so to add a clause for them specifically within another rule seems a bit favouritist. I don't want to ban them outright as I say, but to give them the status of a cluster partner only under specific conditions doesn't work. Either they do count or they don't, and my opinion is that they shouldn't count, for reasons already outlined. If they did count, someone could enter 2 drones as a cluster, which would cause all sorts of faffy issues.
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Re: Rule Debates

Post by AntRoboteer » Mon Apr 16, 2018 10:53 am

DieGracefullyRobotics wrote:
Mon Apr 16, 2018 10:35 am
"All subsequent parts of a clusterbot must be eliminated for that robot to be considered out, unless one of the components is a drone in which case the drone will only count as part of a cluster if it has made contact with the opponent before either robot is pushed off"
This would not be necessary though as in the drone section (which is necessary if additional restrictions are to be placed on them) it would be specifically documented that a drone which has not made contact with another machine should be considered out.

But there is an alternative, probably better approach: drones are allowed in any fashion, counted as full robots, contact rules etc all forgotten.

The fact is, if two or more drones were entered (bearing in mind it's ~30GBP per drone if built from scratch in accordance with existing rules, close enough to a full antweight), that entry would likely (at worst) take the competition 2 3 minute fights with rather exciting ways of attempting to beat a full antweight, in which case if they have been useless then they shall lose both decisions and the tournament continues on.

The cost of the drones would be astronomical if they were to be built to be competitive and so we are very unlikely to ever see it. That side of things would regulate itself as long as we maintain the ban on off the shelf drones (which is already in place anyway) due to the size limit and the cost.
Ocracoke wrote:
Mon Apr 16, 2018 10:24 am
Also, with a flying robot, what counts as "out of the arena"?
Touching the bottom of a pit, exactly the same as when spinners become airbourne.

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Re: Rule Debates

Post by DieGracefullyRobotics » Mon Apr 16, 2018 11:18 am

Rules must cover all possible outcomes, however probable they may be. It's a question of ironing out any "this would be allowed but probably never going to happen" scenarios.

There are three options for rules on flying robots:

1) allow them however they come, as long as they follow all other AWS rulings (no off the shelf, hitting the bottom of the pit, no entanglement, etc etc) and give them the status of any other roller entry.

2) allow them without granting them status (so they would not count as a clusterbot partner and would not be allowed to enter on their own).

3) ban them outright.

To me, 1) is completely ridiculous. It opens up all sorts of loopholes, debates and confusion about who wins a fight and how, plus adds extra levels of confusion should different arenas be used. Also, the rules state that if no contact is made before one robot drives out, the match will be restarted. This could be an absolute nightmare with a drone.
Drones are allowed in Battlebots in a similar way to what I'm suggesting for 2). Nobody in Battlebots would try and claim victory in a fight if both robots were incapacitated but their drone was still mobile. Similarly, no robot with a drone partner is referred to as a clusterbot.
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Re: Rule Debates

Post by Ocracoke » Mon Apr 16, 2018 11:35 am

Touching the bottom of a pit, exactly the same as when spinners become airbourne.
The question was sort of meant in humour. ;) In arenas where there is a significant difference between the floored part of the arena and the polycarbonate wall (such as mine, where the floored area is 810mm squared as opposed to the arena walls, which cover 1200mm squared), flying robots technically have an advantage but I guess the no contact rule would cover the notion that a opponent can sit in that area which a roller cannot reach.
To me, 1) is completely ridiculous. It opens up all sorts of loopholes, debates and confusion about who wins a fight and how, plus adds extra levels of confusion should different arenas be used. Also, the rules state that if no contact is made before one robot drives out, the match will be restarted. This could be an absolute nightmare with a drone.
I am going to counter that with the fact that if a roboteer has entered a single flying robot or a cluster, it is up to them to know how to fight with it effectively and within the rules. I do agree that the no contact thing is going to (potentially) be a pain but again, I don't want to see the rules being too onerous to a specific form of mobility. Let them come, it'll all pan out in the wash. :D
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Re: Rule Debates

Post by DieGracefullyRobotics » Mon Apr 16, 2018 11:47 am

It doesn't work like that as far as rules are concerned. You can't make snap judgements on the day based on what shows up and what happens, they have to be all encompassing and not able to be exploited in silly ways. That's the whole point of having them.
The amount of scenarios where a drone could claim 'victory' in the rules against a proper opponent just by floating about is the stuff of nightmares for anyone interested in fairness or practicality or judging. The hobby is fighting robots and there is no way a drone in the box can be considered to be a decent fighter. Even the only guy who currently uses one admits that. Therefore they should not be considered as one.
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Re: Rule Debates

Post by Ocracoke » Mon Apr 16, 2018 12:00 pm

The amount of scenarios where a drone could claim 'victory' in the rules against a proper opponent just by floating about is the stuff of nightmares for anyone interested in fairness or practicality or judging.
In judging, surely the lack of any meaningful aggression would count against a flying robot in this context? Just floating around is something that would be noticed by all concerned and count against them.
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