2015-16 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Below are FAQ regarding the Challenge Rules. Team Leaders of registered teams may submit questions about the rules by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. All new questions will be posted and answered in the online FAQ at http://challenge.wpi.edu.
Updated 29-SEP-2015 (F1-F61)
F1. Can you describe in more detail how the prize money could be distributed?
For Level 1:
- All teams who successfully complete Level 1 will split $50,000, with a maximum of $5,000 per team.
• Prize money distributed in Level 1 becomes unavailable to be distributed for Level 2 prizes (i.e. they come from the same pool of $1.39M).
For Level 2:
- The top 3 scoring teams will be determined by adding up the points associated with their collected samples. A minimum of 4 points must be scored.
2. The total amount of prize money available to be distributed will be determined based on the 1st place performer.
3. The judges will add the score of the top teams together.
4. Starting with 3rd place, divide the 3rd place score by the total points to get a percentage of the prize money 3rd place will receive. That percentage is then multiplied by the prize money available. If the amount is higher than the max set by their point level, they are given that maximum amount.
5. Repeat steps 3-4 until all 3 teams have been awarded money.
Below are some specific examples:
- The top three teams score 10, 9, and 5 points respectively. Since the first place team scored 10 points, the total available to be distributed is $750,000 (see P8).
• 10+9+5 = 24 total points
• 5 pts divided by 24 total pts = 20.8%
• 20.8% of $750K = $156K
• For second place, 10+9=19. 9/19 = 47.4%. 47.4% of $650K is $308,100. Since the maximum a team can earn by scoring 9 points is $750K, they receive their determined amount of $308,100.
• For first place, $650K-$308,100 = $341,900. Again, since the maximum that can be earned by someone scoring 10 points is $750K, they receive all of their $341,900.
- The top 2 teams score 4 and 5 points. No other teams score points in Level 2. Since the first place team scored 5 points, $250,000 is available to be distributed.
• 4+5 = 9 … 4/9 = 44.4% … 44.4% of $250K is $111,000. The second place team will win this.
• First place team will win $250,000 – $111,000 = $139,000.
• Only one team successfully completes Level 2 and they score 7 points. They will win $250,000.
F2. Will false samples be placed on the field?
No. We will not intentionally place any false samples on the field of play. For example, we would not place an out-of-spec tennis ball on the course of play and we will scan the entire course for debris that could potentially be misinterpreted as a sample prior to the start of the challenge attempts. However, if your robot collects an item that it though was a sample that isn’t, it will count towards your non-sample mass.
F3. Will all the samples be on the course for Level 1?
No. The Level 1 course contains only the PCS and one easy sample.
F4. Will we have access to the samples once we arrive on-site?
Yes and no. Teams will be given some access to samples in the robot pit area with the following restrictions. For the Easy samples, all teams will have access to see, feel, touch, and calibrate to the actual samples we will use. For the Intermediate samples, all teams will have access to view the samples from a distance of no more than 15 meters in a controlled area. No teams will have any access to the hard samples until they identify them on the course.
F5. Can you provide more information of the exact nature of known samples or obstacles on the course?
Yes. While we are not suggesting you should purchase the items from the following retailers or this is the only place from which they can be purchased, below are links to the actual items referenced in the rules:
- Orange Warning Fence (Field Boundary) – Please note we are showing this as a sample for anyone who may not know what we are describing. We will be seeking donors of this since there is a lot to purchase, so we may not know the final brand until we secure this. If what we end up getting for use is not available in retail quantities, we will do our best to get a sample to each team: http://www.homedepot.com/buy/building-materials/fencing/tenax-guardian-safety-fence/4-ft-x-100-ft-orange-warning-barrier-20640.html
- Paint for easy samples: Rust-oleum Painter’s Touch Ultra Cover (Paint + Primer), Gloss Grape 249113. UPC 020066187675
- Sample of HSV color scale: http://i.stack.imgur.com/LC8Oh.png (240-60 means the blue, purple, red, orange side)
F6. Is the robot allowed to climb “immovable obstacles” on the terrain?
Yes. However, be aware of R5 if these behaviors have the potential to severely damage the obstacle.
F7. What kind of surfaces can we expect to encounter on the course?
You can expect to encounter firm ground and a variety of walkable surfaces. This would include turf, pavement, packed dirt, short grass, and possibly traversable rocks (i.e. gravel). You are not expected to move through loose mediums like sand, travel through water, or negotiate tall grass.
F8. Will people be allowed within view of the robot’s sensors?
There will be no spectators inside the boundaries of the course or inside the boundary fencing. The only people allowed on the course will be event officials or individuals approved by the event for specific purposes (e.g. filming). Those allowed on the course will be clearly identified by their badge and clothing.
F9. Will the samples be placed on a table or buried in the ground?
No. The best effort will be made to have all samples placed on the surface of the course. Absolutely none will be buried or in water. In some cases, like with the tennis ball, it may be raised very slightly or contained in order to prevent it from rolling far from its location. An example would be placing a small rubber O-ring under the ball for it to sit on, so it is not sitting directly on the ground but extremely close to the surface.
F10. Can we get an unofficial inspection before our official one?
Yes. Any time before your challenge attempt or your robot is impounded your team may request an unofficial inspection. An inspector will review your robot for compliance and attempt to answer any questions you may have. A scale will also be available during this time. While these inspections are not final, our goal is to help make sure that every team that arrives with a robot is compliant with the rules and that does not stop them from competing.
F11. Can I move my robot from the on-deck area to the starting zone for Level 1 by driving it under its own power?
F12. If my team only has one member at the event, will I be able to get assistance to move my robot?
Yes. You can ask for help from other teams or event officials. However, moving the robot is ultimately your responsibility and any damage that may occur during this process is your responsibility.
F13. Is the Home Beacon platform considered part of the starting platform?
No. This means that no part of your robot can start on or overhanging the Home Beacon platform. Additionally, any home beacon components not completely contained within the home beacon platform for the duration of the run will be considered part of the robot. Additionally, any samples that end up on or overhanging the Home Beacon platform will not count.
F14. Are teams allowed to mark the starting platform? How will we know it is ours?
Each starting platform will be painted a bright color and teams will know which platform they are starting on prior to each challenge attempt. In addition, teams are allowed to mark the platform as long as they do not permanently alter the platform and anything used to mark the platform is included in the robot mass, starts within the marked starting area, and violates no other rules. The Home Beacon starts on a separate platform directly behind the starting platform and is designed to aid competitors in this issue.
F15. How important is the separation of the samples from one another?
Obviously, when collecting samples from an unknown area, sterile handling would be extremely important for their scientific evaluation. For the purposes of this challenge, this is an important area but not a critical one we are looking to investigate. For example, teams may employ simpler methods like separate compartments within the same box or wrapping the samples individually and placing them in a single box. Judges will only be looking to ensure that the surfaces of any samples never come in contact with one another.
F16. How do we know if our samples are “easy and obvious to remove”?
The goal with this rule is to ensure that the judges can easily access the sample to determine if they have come in contact with other samples, to analyze the mass of all components returned, and to evaluate whether the samples are within the vertical projection of the starting platform. If a sample is incredibly difficult to access or cannot be accessed without moving the robot, the judges may deem those samples inaccessible and not count them.
Teams will be asked to provide documentation to the inspector that clearly describes how to access where any items are stored within the robot. Accessing these items may require tools, and these must be provided by the team to the inspector.
F17. What will be interpreted as “damage” to a sample?
A sample will be considered damaged if it has a permanent deformation or change in dimension.
F18. When my robot is paused, what exactly needs to stop?
When your robot is paused, it will most likely be done so for the safety of an event official on the course, or to allow another robot to pass in the case of multiple robots. For the safety aspect, it is critical that driving cease as well any outboard motion. It is not expected that your computing or sensing systems shut down, as it would likely be a tremendous time penalty for them to restart. However, any teams that wish to have items that continue moving during a pause must request and be approved for a pause exception. All decisions on what is or is not allowed are at the discretion of the judges.
F19. Can my robot send information to me or a computer outside the course, as long as I am not transmitting any information back?
Absolutely not. There is no communication in any direction allowed with the robot from anything not contained within the course, inspected before the run, and included in the starting size and mass of the robot during Level 1. While we understand this would be only to help you learn the robot’s processes better, everyone has to understand it’s a slippery slope. You are welcome to record data on-board. During Level 2, communication is limited to the Communication Update Periods (section 18.104.22.168)
F20. What does the 80kg mass of the robot apply to?
The 80kg mass applies to everything you as a competitor bring to the event and put on the starting platform to compete as part of your robot. This means it includes batteries, computers, e-stops, safety lights, and anything you might leave behind on the platform or on the course but needs to start with the robot. It does not, however, include the pause switch(es), the required payload in section 1.2, the home beacon, or any samples or materials collected during the run.
F21. Can we use a device onboard that has a GPS, accelerometer, compass, etc, as long as we don’t use those features in our code or our challenge attempt at all?
Yes. We understand that it is tough today to purchase technology that doesn’t include some of these components, even if they will not be used, and therefore we don’t want to make the challenge even more difficult for anyone. If teams utilize devices with any of these disallowed technologies, the onus will be on the team to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that they are not using them during the competition. Teams should be aware that it will be the determination of judges and inspectors as to whether a team has proven compliance with these rules, and teams may be asked to modify or remove certain components to make their robot legal to compete.
F22. Are accelerometers allowed?
Yes, provided they comply with Section 1.3. Be aware that any sensors that utilize magnetic compensation will be disallowed.
F23. Are flying robots allowed?
Provided they comply with Section 1.3 and 1.4 of the rules.
F24. Can we leave objects/beacons/robots on the field at the end of our competition run?
Yes. All items will be removed by event officials at the end of each competition run.
F25. Can we have multiple robots on the field as long as they all start within the specified dimensions?
Yes, see also Section 1.4 of the rules.
F26. Can we use spring-damper systems for shock absorption and suspension?
Yes, provided it is a sealed system and could theoretically work in a vacuum, and complies with Section 1.3 of the rules.
F27. Are spawn allowed to communicate with each other and with the home beacon?
Yes, provided the communication meets all rules on allowed communication, disallowed technology rules, and FCC regulations.
F28. “The required payload may contain a strong magnetic source and frequency jammer to….” Couldn’t this magnetic source directly interfere with R6?
The required payload is designed to aid judges and inspectors in enforcing the rules on allowed and disallowed technologies. Teams are required to submit documentation about their robots, beacons, and communication protocol approximately 6 months prior to the event with additional information on-site. Provided teams submit accurate and reasonable information about their plan and update any changes in a timely fashion, the required payload will not interfere with any allowed communication or technology.
F29. R6 states “any combination of electro-mechanical items provided by the team that assists their robot in identifying their starting platform” – does this mean there is no communication allowed between the home beacon and the robot(s)?
No, teams are allowed to communicate between their robot and home beacon (per C41), provided it complies will all Disallowed Technology rules and FCC regulations.
F30. Could clarification be provided on some of the following:
- Is the 80,000 square meters roving area one long strip, round, square, rectangular? (E7)
• When will “limited topographical data” be provided? (Section 3)
• When will the satellite imagery, including starting zones, be released? (Section 3)
See rule E7. Approximately 6 months prior, teams will be provided with the imagery of the Level 1 and Level 2 courses. This will include “the area of interest for the pre-cached sample” as well as areas of interest of Level 2 samples.
F31. Could you clarify R17 and how the pause switch is supposed to work?
Yes. It is intended that the pause switch be a robust switch that, when triggered by an event official, sends a signal to the robot to pause all motion. When triggered again, another signal is sent which tells the robot it may resume motion. Among other things, since it is possible that a single team entry could require multiple pause switches (i.e. for spawn), the pause switch should not be designed such that an event official has to continually hold the button for the duration of the run or for the duration of the pause in order for the robot to remain in that state. We envision, as an example, a garage door opener as a simple potential solution. Teams should plan for these buttons to be robust, easy to use, and easy to hold because the onus is on the teams to ensure the switch works and remains active for the duration of the run.
F32. How will you deal with samples that may roll or move because of wind, being hit by a robot, or being hit by an event official?
We anticipate placing samples such that they will not move because of natural (i.e. wind) forces. However, in any situation where movement of a sample is caused by natural forces or robot interaction, the sample will not be replaced to its original spot and it will ‘play as it lies’. In these cases, it is possible a sample will move closer to the boundary fence than 1 meter or become within 10 meters of another sample. In the event that a sample is hit or moved by an unnatural or non-robot force (i.e. event official) it will be replaced as close as possible to its original spot.
F33. What happens if an official inadvertently triggers an e-stop in the middle of a run?
We feel that the potential of an e-stop being accidentally or unintentionally triggered during a run is very, very small. The scenarios in which this could occur are hard to imagine and nearly impossible to name outcomes for at this time. If this were to happen in the challenge, on-site judges would convene to evaluate the situation and determine an appropriate resolution depending on the exact situation and circumstances. Some examples of potential outcomes we believe would be considered are: restarting the robot in base with the balance of time remaining and field in current status, restarting the entire run from base including removing and replacing any samples collected, or stopping the run and evaluating the team’s performance based on the field as it currently stands. In no case will an inadvertent e-stop cause a disqualification of a team.
F34. Will you be providing additional information on the hard samples?
Yes. All fully registered teams will be provided with the potential rectilinear markings for the hard samples. Only samples with those markings are counted, but as per FAQ F2, we will not intentionally be placing false samples on the course.
F35. Are you planning to fully reveal the challenge location with either the topological data or satellite imagery?
Approximately six months from the event, we will release appropriate topographical data and imagery of the course to aid all competitors in successfully achieving the challenge. It is intended for this information to mimic the information a satellite or previous rover may have collected about the area. It is not our intention to reveal the actual location of the challenge at that time. While it is possible a team may be able to guess a potential location from the information, it will not be confirmed until teams arrive at WPI and are then transported to the event.
F36. Is it possible that the starting platforms will be set up as a “chute” entering the contest area with fencing on either side? Is it possible that the starting platform will be set up pointed directly at a close (< 2 m) snow fence?
Yes, it is possible the starting platforms will be setup with a ‘chute’ leading to an open area of the field. However, the robot will never be started pointed directly at a fence closer than 2 meters.
F37. Can rule E10 be interpreted to mean the hard sample could be 20x20x20cm?
At this time, we will not be providing any additional details or information on the hard samples. However, recall that the challenge is about searching for and identifying samples, so we do not anticipate any special manipulation being required to handle the hard samples versus the easy or intermediate samples.
F38. May I test my robot on-site prior to the event?
Absolutely no testing of robots will be allowed on-site prior to the event. The rules and regulations of the competition site directly prohibit various activities, specifically the operation of any sort of motorized vehicle. Violating any rules of the site would likely disrupt and delay the schedule of the entire event (a probable result of your actions is that the property owners rescind their offer to allow us to host the competition there) and thus doing so would be considered a violation of Section 4 of the Team Agreement.
F39. Will samples be placed inside any structures in the competition area?
No. Samples will not be placed inside any structures (i.e. buildings, trash cans, etc) on the course.
F40. May we use a solar tracking sensor?
There are no rules that prohibit the tracking of celestial bodies like the sun.
F41. What are the eligibility requirements for receiving awards? Is it open to the world this year, or still only primarily US citizens?
All teams are welcome to participate, but only US teams who meet the criteria outlined in the Team Agreement are eligible to win the $1.39M in prize money outlined in Sections 4.2 and 4.3 of the rules.
However, all officially registered teams who meet the deadlines and metrics set forth in the rules and Team Agreements will be eligible for the Technology Achievement Awards described in Section 4.1 of the rules.
F42. What happens to the prize distribution if a demonstration team (not prize eligible) places in the top three for Level 2?
If a team places in the top three of Level 2 but is ineligible for prize money per the team agreement, the money will be distributed to the top three prize eligible teams per the outlined structure in P8. An example is below.
- The top 4 teams score 13, 8, 5, and 4 points respectively. However, the team who scored 10 points is a ‘demonstration’ team and not eligible for the prize. Therefore, the team who scored 8 is considered the top-scoring team for prize distribution and $750,000 is available for distribution per (P8).
• Start with 3rd place… 8+5+4=17… 4pts/17 total pts = 23.5%… 23.5% of $750K is $176,250 which the third place team will win.
• Second place is 8+5=13…. 5/13 = 38.5%… 38.5% of $573,750K is $220,894 which is what the second place team is awarded.
• $750,000-$176,250-$220,894 = $352,856 remains and is awarded to the top–scoring, prize-eligible team.
F43. R15 does not say what the fans are cooling. Are there any restrictions?
No. This year we do not restrict what fans can cool. However, onus will be on the team to prove any fans on their robot are not doing other actions besides cooling (like the sample collection).
F44. Previous years you suggested that the pause switch be a ‘two-button pause’. Is that suggestion the same for this year?
Yes, along with description in the rules (R17), it is highly suggested, but not required, that you have a separate pause/unpause switch or a latching pause switch to aid the person controlling it in knowing what condition your robot is supposed to be in.
In the case of a single button, where the same button toggles pause/unpause, the event official may have no clear way of knowing the current state the robot should be in (i.e. did they push the button hard enough to unpause?). In the case of a two-button, latching, or other system that has other indicators, they know the state of their button or could hit ‘unpause’ again to ensure they had completed the action.
We feel this is the best situation for competitors to aid the event officials in doing their job efficiently and fairly.
F45. There are a lot of IMUs on the market now, but getting extremely hard to find without magnetometers on board. If we can show in our code where we are only using data from the accel/gyro sensors for our reference systems, will this be allowed?
Yes. The onus will be on the team to prove exactly what data is being accessed and how, and use of such devices will be under scrutiny of the Technical Review Committee and on-site judges. Bear in mind that per R14, the Required Payload is likely to contain a strong magnetic source which may interfere with the expected operation of your IMU even though you are not intentionally accessing those elements.
F46. Does having the Battery Management System (BMS) be “always on” (it draws some current even when the Mechanical E-Stop have cut power to the rest of the robot) violate the Mechanical E-Stop sections of R17?
The purpose of the E-stop is to prevent any injury to spectators, officials, or environment. Since a BMS actually can prevent such occurrence, by managing the status/condition of Lithium-based cells, this could be an allowed exception to this rule. Any teams wishing to make use of such a system must clearly outline and document the system in their required proposal. At the event, it would be imperative for the team to demonstrate that no other system receives power when the BMS is operating or when the E-Stop is activated.
F47. Are we allowed to place our home beacon in a specific alignment?
We will not regulate the orientation in which a teams places their home beacon on the home beacon platform, provided it complies with R9 and all other home beacon rules. However, please be aware of C34 and C45 when considering your home beacon setup (i.e. the home beacon must be secured to the platform in a remote location, will be transported by the event staff, and placed in conjunction with the starting platform in a random orientation).
F48. The Hard Sample Documentation indicates the inscription will be in contrasting paint. Does this indicate the main body of the sample will be painted?
This statement is meant to describe that the engraved portion of the hard sample is filled in with a color (using paint) to help distinguish it from the main body of the sample. It is not intended to imply or indicate whether or not the main body is painted.
F49. Can we use the tie down hoops to strap something in position that is not moving off the platform?
Per Rule C24 and the Starting Platform drawing (located in the Competition Area Info, Drawings, and Pictures page), all robots must be placed within the designated starting area/square. Since the attachment points (“tie down hoops”) are located outside that square, being attached at the start would not be a legal starting configuration. The rules do not prevent being attached to the starting platform within the starting area before the challenge run commences or attaching to other areas after the start of the challenge run provided:
A.) It is non-destructive to the platform (creating a permanent mark, alteration, or deformation)
B.) It complies with all other robot starting rules
Please note that the starting platform is designed to hold a robot at the start of a challenge run and support reentry of the robot during the run only.
F50. Can you provide further clarification on P9 and the Level 2 tiebreakers?
Yes. Consider these scenarios in Level 2:
- Three teams score 8 points each, another scores 7, and another scores 5. ONLY the three teams who scored 8 points will receive prize money. They will evenly split $250,000.
• Two teams score 8 points each, another scores 7, and another scores 5. Each of the teams who scored 8 points receive 34.8% of the $250,000 ($87,000) and the team who scored 7 receives 30.4% ($76,000).
• One team scores 8 points, two teams score 7 points each, and another scores 5. The team who scored 8 receives 36.4% ($91,000) and each of the teams that scored 7 receives 31.8% ($79,500)
• Four teams score 8 points and another scores 7 points. The four teams who scored 8 points will receive prize money. They will evenly split $250,000.
• One team scores 8 points and 3 teams score 7 points. The team that scored 8 receives 53.3% ($133,250). The three teams who score 7 evenly split 46.7% of the $250,000 ($38,916.67 per team).
F51. In rules E8, an orange fence is said to mark borders of the challenge area. Does the fence also mark the edge of the water hazard for Level 2?
Our intention is not to require teams to traverse through water during their challenge attempt (See F7) or be able to specifically detect water. The challenge course is designed to represent conditions an autonomous robot might find while exploring a lunar or Martian environment and ensure it can distinguish between areas which are safe to explore and others which are not. The fence will mark boundary areas of water where no other undrivable condition marks the water area. For example, a steady-sloped beach leading into water would be marked with fencing, whereas a steep cliff which drops off into water may not be.
F52. Are teams allowed to use adhesives in their sample collection design?
While there is no rule that strictly prohibits this, teams should be aware that they are required to return “undamaged” samples which are “easy and obvious to remove” from the robot. In this case, a sample would be considered damaged if any adhesive were obviously left on the sample or any part of the sample (like paint) comes off during the collection, storage, or removal process.
F53. Do samples need to be in separate containers or are they able to be in an open space as long as they do not make contact with another object?
There is no rule that prohibits this, but the onus will be on the team to prove there is no situation during which they could come in contact during a challenge attempt. If this is not obvious from the robot design or demonstration, the judges will be required to evaluate whether it was likely to have happened and score the run accordingly using their best judgment.
F54. If our robot is paused on a hillside with potential to roll downhill, is it permitted for the motors to use a controller to actively hold their position?
Yes. Rule R17 indicates that all MOTION must stop, not power. Pausing the robot allows time for the judges to evaluate potential rules violations or right-of-way situations. Although the judges may not E-Stop a robot that slowly moved down a hill under pause, it is preferable that robots do not move during a pause.
F55. There seems to be potential safety concerns with utilizing flyers. How will the competition staff deal with these issues?
Flyers are part of the robot/home beacon, meaning they are subject to all the robot/home beacon rules and the team must be able to prove that the robot/home beacon as a whole (including the flyer) is capable of being operated safely and meeting all rules.
For example, the portion of the robot to which the flyer is attached will be subject to being paused or e-stopped if it were to cross the orange fence or cause damage to the course. The onus would be on any team using a flyer to show the flyer can be safely managed in any weather conditions and during required pause and e-stop situations. Event officials will monitor all robot components for dangerous conditions and for robot-to-robot contact if there is more than one team’s robot on the course.
F56. Is the flyer considered a ‘spawn’ of the part of the robot to which it is tethered?
No, the flyer is considered part of the robot as a whole and part of the portion of the robot to which it is tethered. If it was a spawn, it would be required to comply with rules like maximum e-stop height. Instead, by tethering the flying portion of the robot, elements like the e-stop and safety light are on the base portion and are not required to be on the flyer itself. However, since the flyer must e-stop when the robot part it is tethered to is e-stopped, it must have a powered connection from the base (since e-stops must be hardware- and not software-based)
F57. What does vertical flight mean? Are there any restrictions?
Per rule R3, the maximum height of the robot is 4m, meaning at no point can the robot fly higher than 4m. However, there is no limit to the length of the tether. Just like other robot components, it is the role of the team to ensure the robot does not violate the rule. Additionally, the 2m/s rule R4 applies to traversal across the course, meaning travel parallel to the ground. Vertical speed is not limited (just like the speed an arm or other component of a robot is not limited). If the flyer is associated with the home beacon it must comply with the physical restrictions of R9.
F58. Is there a limit to the number of flying components a robot may have?
Provided they meet all other robot rules, there is no limit. As long as each flyer is tethered (physically and, if powered, electrically) to part of the robot (and spawn are considered part of the robot) there is no issue.
F59. What happens to a flyer when the part of the robot is attached to is e-stopped or the entire robot is paused?
As always, the onus is on the teams to prove that when these buttons are pressed, all portions of the robot comply. In the case of a safe e-stop (graceful shutdown), a heavier-than-air flyer should be able to have a controlled and safe landing executed by the team. In the case of an unsafe e-stop (emergency situation), power to the entire robot must be cut immediately including to the flyer. In the case of a pause, the entire robot must stop motion within 1 second. However, it is highly suggested that robots with a flying component request a pause exemption to allow more than 1 second for the flyer to land or to allow it to continue to fly provided it would not inhibit access to the robot by event officials.
F60. Is the robot allowed to move during the setup time (C34), e.g. moving its arm and steering motors to initialize encoders as long as it does not leave the area of the starting platform?
F61. During a Communication Update Period, is arbitrary interaction with the robot via a console window (e.g. a Linux terminal window on a monitor connected to the robot) allowed? For example, one might enter commands into a console window to stop the current software, examine or edit some configuration files or code, then resume code execution. I am trying to determine whether “Download new code to the robot” literally means “Copy code from a USB drive, then run the code,” or whether it can be interpreted as “Make whatever software modifications you deem fit, as long you don’t modify the hardware.”
The latter. This is designed to simulate what NASA could do with their own extraterrestrial robots. This would include evaluating robot components (via software), reading collected data, and updating code. During this time, teams may also test code changes they have made to their robot, provided it never moves more than 1m from its original paused point.