2012-13 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Below are FAQ regarding the Challenge Rules. Team Leaders of registered teams may submit questions about the rules by emailing challenge@wpi.edu. All new questions will be posted and answered in the online FAQ at http://challenge.wpi.edu.

Updated 22-Apr-2013 (F68)
F68. Regarding R18, we are using spawn which are much smaller than the .75 meter height, allowing our E-Stop to be placed in the top-most surface of our robot. However, above the body of the spawn, we have a mast carrying a sensor. Can our E-Stop be located on the top surface of the body of then spawn or must it be mounted on the mast?
The goal of R18 is to ensure the E-Stop is easily visible, easy to reach, and able to be activated quickly and effectively in the event of an emergency. This rule is in place for the safety of all volunteers and spectators interacting with the robot. All efforts should be made to comply with this rule and mount the E-Stop has high as reasonable on the robot (within the rules).

However, the judge committee will allow flexibility in this area to ensure the E-Stop is mounted on a substantial portion of the robot that would allow the button to be hit quickly and with force to activate. For example, if a mast would be likely to bend out of the way if quick activation was attempted, the judges would allow the button to be mounted on the top surface of the spawn body.

In all cases, the final decision on any ruling is up to the judge committee. It is highly advised that any team seeking flexibility with this rule submit documentation/pictures of their requested exemption as soon as possible for review and approval, and highlight this specific request in their 30-day required materials.

Updated 3-Apr-2013 (F67)
F67. Can we use the tie down hoops to strap something in position that is not moving off the platform for level 1?
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.

Updated 13-Mar-2013 (F66)
F66. 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.

Updated 18-Feb-2013 (F65)
F65. We have a water cooling system for our electronics that needs to continue running after the computers shut down for a period of time in order to prevent damage. Are we allowed an exemption to the E-Stop rule to keep this running?
Exemptions to the E-Stop rule are generally not available. The E-Stop is designed not as part of the challenge of space exploration, but out of practical concern for the safety of running an event in a public place near event officials and spectators. When judges deem the continued powered operation of a device is safer to the people at the competition than an E-Stop (like with a Battery Management System), it is the only case in which an exemption can be considered.

However, we can consider to types of E-Stop situations:
– An UNSAFE E-Stop would be defined as a situation where the robot is considered unsafe and there is an immediate safety threat at the event. In this case, the E-Stop may be hit directly with no concern or consideration to how it effects robot components. We anticipate this being a rare case.
– A SAFE E-Stop would be defined as a situation where the robot operating ‘normally’ but the E-Stop needs to be used to signal the end of a competition run due to time being up, rules violation, etc.

Procedurally, an UNSAFE E-stop may be hit at any period of time without warning to the robot. A SAFE E-Stop will always be preceded by a PAUSE. Once the robot is PAUSED by an event official, the judges will make a final determination if the run is considered over and then E-Stop the robot as appropriate.

In the case of a SAFE E-Stop, the team may request, within reason, that the judges wait a designated period of time between the PAUSE and their activation of the E-Stop. This would allow the robot, when it receives a PAUSE, to prepare its systems for the pressing of the E-Stop.

Please note that not all PAUSE activations will be followed by an E-Stop. However, since the E-Stop is about the safety of the people at the event, the robot must always be able to comply with R18 and F61.

Any team wishing to make use of this procedure must email challenge@wpi.edu with a description of the systems that would need this consideration and the length of time requested between PAUSE and a SAFE E-Stop. The committee will review the request for feasibility and make a ruling. Teams who are granted consideration must appropriately document and demonstrate the procedure for the judges per rules C11 and C12.

Updated 14-Jan-2013 (F63-64)
F63. R10 states that the Home Beacon “may not contain any externally moving parts” however R9 states “can be no more than 2m in height at the start”. Can the Home Beacon extend something higher than 2m?
Yes. In R10, external applies to the Home Beacon platform. This rule is intended as a safety consideration for those who will be on the course managing robots during the competition. Since Home Beacons are not subject to the robot pause/E-stop rules, a staff person will need to be able to approach the beacon to turn it on and off during the challenge without risk of being injured.

F64. 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 C27 and C39 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).

Updated 20-Nov-2012 (F57-F62)
F57. R13 states that the required payload is not included in the robot’s mass. Is it included in the robot’s size?
No, the Required Payload is not included in the robot size.

F58. R16 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).

F59. Last year 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 (R18) and FAQ (F37), 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.

F60. 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.

F61. Does having the Battery Management Syatem (BMS) be “always on” (it draws some current even when the Master Power Switch or Mechanical E-Stop have cut power to the rest of the robot) violate the Master Power Switch or Mechanical E-Stop sections of R18?
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 without the Master Power Switch on (or when the E-Stop is activated).

F62. Will you be conducting an evaluation of the frequencies being broadcast in the competition area to ensure we do not have interfering signals?
Like last year, once a final competition site has been selected, we will conduct an evaluation of the various frequencies in use in the general area, and publish those results in the Competition Information section. We will evaluate common signals used for robot-to-robot communication, as well as robot-to-pause switch communications. In all case, teams should clearly identify the frequencies they are using in their required proposal to ensure there is no interference when multiple robots are on the course.

Updated 5-Nov-2012 (F56)
F56. 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 in eligible 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 10, 8, 4, and 3 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 $250,000 is available for distribution per (P8).
  • Start with 3rd place… 8+4+3=15… 3pts/15 total pts = 20%… 20% of $250K is $50,000 which the third place team will win.
  • Second place is 8+4=12…. 4/12 = 33%… 33.3% of $200K is $66,600 which is what the second place team is awarded.
  • $250,000-$50,000-$66,600 = $133,400 remains and is awarded to the top-­scoring, prize-­eligible team.

Updated 30-Oct-2012 (F54-F55)
F54. 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 $1.5M in prize money outlined in Sections 4.2 and 4.3 of the rules.

New for 2013, all officially registered teams who meet the deadlines set forth in the rules and Team Agreements, will be eligible for the Technology Achievement Awards described in Section 4.1 of the rules.

F55. Can the judges be informed that 15 minute E-Stop portion of C47 should not apply to the spawn in a swarm since by design they may be idle until called upon to perform a task?

Yes. The 15-minute ‘signs of life’ E-stop condition (described in rule C47) is intended to apply to the robot as a whole. Only if the entire robot (all spawn) show no signs of life for 15 minutes the entire robot will be E-stopped. This rule will be implemented at the judges discretion, with consideration and benefit of the doubt being provided to the team whenever possible.

Updated 25-Oct-2012 (F1-F53)
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 $1.5M).

For Level 2:
1. The top 3 scoring teams will be determined by adding up the points associated with their collected samples. A minimum of 3 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:
Example 1:
• 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 However, the maximum that can be earned by someone who scores only 5 points, is $100K (see P8), so the third place team receives $100K.
• 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.

Example 2:
• The top three teams score 8, 4, and 3 points respectively. Since the first place team scored 8 points, the total available to be distributed is $250,000 (see P8).
• 8+4+3 = 15 total points
- 3 pts divided by 15 total pts = 20.0%

• 20.0% of $250K = $50,000 Maximum for 3 points is $100K so they can receive the full $50,000.
• For second place, 8+4=12. 4/12 = 33.3%. 33.3% of $200K is $66,600. Since the maximum a team can earn by scoring 4 points is $100K, they receive their determined amount of $66,000.
• For first place, $200K-$66,600 = $133,400.

Example 3:
• The top 2 teams score 3 and 5 points. No other teams score points in Level 2. Since the first place team scored 5 points, $100,000 is available to be distributed.
• 3+5 = 8 … 3/8 = 37.5% … 37.5% of $100K is $37,500. The second place team will win this.
• First place team will win $100,000 – $37,500 = $62,500.
Example 4:
• 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 pre-cached 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 approximately 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:
• Pink Tennis Ball (Easy Sample): http://amzn.com/B0010FW782
• Soft Shot Hockey Puck (Easy Sample): http://amzn.com/B00017IBT4

Information on man-made navigation markers will be published on 7-JAN-2013.

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 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. How will an event official know when to turn on my robot and Home Beacon, respectively?
Just like you need to provide clear instructions for how the event official removes the securing straps from your robot, you should provide clear instructions for the order you would like your robot and Home Beacon turned on. To the best of their abilities, the event officials will follow your instructions on which one to trigger first ONLY. Do not expect them to follow more detailed instructions (for example, “turn on my robot EXACTLY 10 seconds after turning on the Home Beacon”). Your event clock starts when they turn the robot power on.

F9. 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.

F10. 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.

F11. If multiple robots must run on the course at the same time, will all teams have the same number of robots on the course?

Yes. Every attempt will be made to have the same number of robots on the course for every competing team. We do plan on staggering the starts for logistical reasons, so it is possible someone might start or end a run with only one robot on the course. For Level 2, this is one of the reasons we will allow teams some control over choosing their competition order/time.

F12. Can we get an unofficial inspection before our official one?
Yes. Any time before 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.

F13. Can I move my robot from impound to the starting zone for Level 1 by driving it under its own power?
No. See rule R-11.

F14. 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.

F15. 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.

F16. 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 entering impound (although not which location that platform is in). 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.

F17. 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.

F18. 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.

F19. What will be interpreted as “damage” to a sample?
A sample will be considered damage if it has a permanent deformation or change in dimension.

F20. Will teams be given time to initialize their robot computers prior to their Level 1 attempt?
No. Teams must place their robot on the starting platform completely powered off. Once ready and the team has left the starting zone, an event official will trigger the Master Power Switch for that robot. At that time, the robot will power up and must complete all initialization processes on its own. After Level 1, teams will be given access to their robots to reset and restore them to compete in Level 2.

F21. 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.

F22. 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. 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.

F23. 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 1.1, the home beacon, or any samples or materials collected during the run.

F24. Is there a maximum deployed height the venue will support?
There is no restriction on the maximum deployed height of any robot or its components. However, it is possible that some of the natural obstacles (like trees) have overhanging branches that would limit heights taller than an average person in some areas.

F25. Where can I find the parts to make my own pre-cached sample?
The pre-cached sample is made of two items only, a hook and polyethylene.
• Hook: Home Depot Part #864420.
• Polyethylene: McMaster.com Part #8701K55. Minimum size you can purchase in is 1 ft, then simply cut to 3 inches.

F26. 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.

F27. Are accelerometers allowed?
Yes, provided they comply with Section 1.3. Be aware that any sensors that utilize magnetic compensation will be disallowed.

F28. Are flying robots allowed?
Provided they comply with Section 1.3 and 1.4 of the rules and could be proven to work in lunar and Martian environments.

F29. 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.

F30. 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.

F31. 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.

F32. 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.

F33. “The required payload may contain a strong magnetic source and frequency jammer to….” Couldn’t this magnetic source directly interfere with R6? And what about R20, spawn and R22, communications?
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.

F34. 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 R22), provided it complies will all Disallowed Technology rules and FCC regulations.

F35. Could clarification be provided on some of the following:
• Is the 80,000 square meters roving area one long strip, round, square, rectangular? (E4)
• When will “limited topographical data” be provided? (E6)
• When will the satellite imagery, including starting zones, be released? (E7)

See rule E7. Approximately 6 months prior, teams will be provided with the imagery of the area. This will include “the area of interest for the pre-cached sample”. While the whole course will be available, teams will know a specific area of it that the pre-cached sample is located in relative to the starting locations once this imagery is released.

F36. Rule R10 disallows externally moving parts in the home beacon. Could clarification be provided?
This rule is in place for safety, primarily for any event staff that may be around the starting area and since the home beacon is not subject to e-stop and pause rules. Any moving parts must be completely enclosed or contained to propose no safety hazard. For example, a Rotating Beacon Light would be legal because all it’s rotating and moving parts are contained inside the safety cover.

F37. Could you clarify R18 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.

F38. Does “uniquely-colored” mean that the sphere has a single color that is different from other objects in the vicinity, or does it mean that there is an unusual pattern of multiple colors on the sphere?
It is intended to mean it has a single color that is different from other objects in the vicinity, although it is possible there would be a small marking on the sphere of a different color.

F39. Will you be providing the brand/product number of paint used on the rock?

F40. Will the PVC cylinder be completely florescent orange or will they show manufacturing markings? Will the inside be painted? Will you provide more information on the paint used?
Our plan is to lightly sand the PVC, prime it, then paint it orange and make the best effort to not have any markings show through. The inside will not intentionally be painted, although it is very likely in the process of spray painting it that some will get on the inside of the cylinder.

F41. 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 25 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. In the case of multiple robots on the course this situation will be reevaluated.

F42. 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.

F43. Will you be providing additional information on the hard samples? 

Yes. Approximately 6 months prior to the date of the competition, 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 #2, we will not intentionally be placing false samples on the course.

F44. May I test my robot on-site prior to the dates of the event?
See FAQ F51.

F45. 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.

F46. Is there any minimum separation between the snow fencing and the samples? Would you consider it legal to lean a sample against the snow fencing?
No sample will be placed, at the start, against the boundary fence or within one meter of the boundary fence.

F47. 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.

F48. Can rule E9 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 no anticipate any special manipulation being required to handle the hard samples versus the easy or intermediate samples.

F49. Will the wooden cube have sharp corners and edges or is it possible the corners will be significantly rounded?
The cube will be 10cm +/- .5cm. No attempt will be made to intentionally chamfer the edges.

F50. We have questions about swarm robots: do they need to carry jammers, have e-stops .075m above the ground, if one e-stop is hit is the entire robot run stopped?

Please see Rules R20 and C45.

F51. 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.

F52. Will samples be places 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. See also F10.

F53. May we use a solar tracking sensor?
There are no rules that prohibit the tracking of celestial bodies like the sun.