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Robot Battles Rules & Guidelines

The very first rule system was developed by the Denver Mad Scientists Club and engineer Bill Llewellyn, to whom we owe a never-ending debt of gratitude. The rules have since evolved considerably over the years, with lots of feedback from the contestants, the audience, and other robotic competition organizers. If you have any questions, please email kellylockhart@yahoo.com

Please note: the ruleset has been updated and overhauled from top to bottom, so please read carefully to see what all has been changed, updated and clarified. Thanks.

0. Spirit Rules

A. Frankenstein Rule: If a vehicle proves sufficiently offensive to the audience, the audience may, at their discretion, light torches, take pitchforks in hand, and throw the robot and its operator in the nearest creek or large body of water.

B. Bad Idea Rule: If, during the design of your robot, you think that something would be a bad idea, then just don't do it.

C. No cheating! This covers spirit-of-the competition type violations.

I. Vehicles

A. The four vehicle weight limit classifications are up to one pound, one to three pounds, three to twelve pounds, and twelve to thirty pounds. Vehicle control may be by any means not prohibited by rule 1B. A 2.5 percent error factor will be allowed to account for variations in scales. Vehicles may not compete out of weight class, due to safety considerations.

B. Vehicles may be powered by any source socially acceptable for indoor use; all vehicles should be electrically powered. No internal combustion engines will be allowed. All power sources must be 100% contained in the vehicle and packaged appropriately for the expected abuse.

C. All vehicles, must, at the beginning of each combat, be capable of movement of at least one foot beyond the base radius of the robot in a reasonable amount of time.

D. No vehicle may, under any circumstances, present a hazard to the judges, spectators, or the opposing operator(s). No vehicle may in its operation cause damage to anything other than the opposing robot or the combat surface. Any vehicle that may imperil the viewing areas will be ruled ineligible for competition.

E. All entries must conform to the general rules of the facility and the event.

F. All vehicles will be subject to a technical inspection prior to combat. Failure to disclose any operating principle will be grounds for immediate disqualification. Judges may restrict any function deemed hazardous.

G. Liquids may not be used in combat situations.

H. If any substance or object(s) coming from a robot that, in the opinion of the judges, cannot be completely cleaned up after combat, the robot will then be declared ineligible. (For example, glitter is verboten.)

I. Robots must be singular in form. No secondary robots or self-propelled devices that detach themselves from the main robot will be allowed.

J. Slow spinners are allowed with an absolute maximum tip speed of 20 feet per second and may spin in any direction. The tip speed in feet per second is calculated by this formula: Tip Speed = no load RPM x Diameter in inches x .00436. This rules only applies to non-arena competitions; Arena competitions have no restrictions for spinners.

K. All robots with active weapons must have a Master Kill Switch that deactivates the weapon immediately, or be designed to cease operation when radio signal is lost or tether is cut. This is for the safety of the audience and the other competitors.

L. No living elements will be allowed in any robot. (For example, you can't put a four year old with a baseball bat on top of your bot.)

M. Bots entered in the 12 pound and 30 pound categories should be able to operate on at least two frequencies or have a digital transmitter capable of nonconflicting frequencies to avoid radio frequency conflicts.

N. Operable vehicles in the one and three pound weight classes must, at full extension, be able fit through the arena pushout(s) in any orientation. Standard pushout width is 18", though arenas can (and do) vary from event to event. Please check with the event organizers well in advance for specific details.

O. An individual bot may only be entered into one weight class per competition.

II. Combat

A. The combat surface will be a minimum of an 8' by 8' square or equivalent size circle for the 12 pound class and a minimum of 16' x 16' or equivalent size circle for the 30 pound class and may be larger as needed by the technical layout of the staging. The staging area for Ant and Beetle classes will be a minimum 4' x 4' four-sided fully enclosed arena.

B. The combat volume is defined as the combat surface and the airspace above it to the height of whatever ceiling is present.

C. Leaving the combat volume entirely is prohibited. Major portions of the robot may leave the combat volume provided that some part of the robot remains inside. You will immediately be declared defeated if your vehicle has entirely left the combat volume, or has come in contact with any restricted surface.

D. No contact with the ceiling is permitted in non-arena competitions.

E. No part of any operator's body may impinge on the combat volume during combat.

F. The use of projectile weapons is not allowed due to issues of audience safety. A projectile is defined as an object thrown with the expectation that its kinetic energy will affect its target.

G. The use of "entanglement" style devices is not allowed.

H. Flammable fuels, liquid, gaseous or solid, are not permitted.

I. There is a three minute time limit for each combat round in all weight classes. If neither robot has achieved a victory condition within the time limit, the judging panel will declare a winner

J. Jamming your opponent’s controller, either electronically or physically, is prohibited. Any robot with ECM capabilities will be disqualified from competition.

K. If, during the course of an arena-based rumble, the pushout(s) become filled, a temporary halt can be called by the judge(s) in order to clear the pushout(s). If such a halt is called, all contestants must immediately stop competing.

III. Judges

A. The judge(s) shall be impartial non-participants.

B. The judge(s) may declare a contest completed at any time.

C. Judges' decisions are final.

IV. Competition

A. The competition will be one-on-one best two-out-of-three rounds in the 12 pound and 30 pound class, and one-on-one direct decision double-elimination in the Ant and Beetle weight classes, time permitting.

B. Vehicles will start on opposite sides of the combat surface with the aft end of each robot even with the edge of the combat surface.

C. Combat may become double-elimination at the discretion of the judges, and may be arranged by random draw of a bye. The round robin format may also be implemented, at the discretion of the judges, to even out odd bracket pairings or if time permits such a competition.

D. Drivers are limited to entering no more than one robot per weight class per competition.

E. Robots must be ready when the combat begins. A brief pretest may be allowed by the judges.

F. Stage hazards, such as steel bars or stuffed animals, may be introduced to the combat surface at the discretion of the judges and/or organizers.

G. For open surface events, a minimum of 30' (thirty feet) distance must be maintained between the edge of the combat stage and the audience for safety reasons. No audience members are allowed within the safety zone, and children under the age of 16 are not allowed in the front row.

F. If no clear winner of a rumble is declared, the judge(s) may call for a replay involving all remaining functioning vehicles in the specific weight class.

V. Victory Conditions

A. To claim victory in the 12 pound and 30 pound classes your vehicle must show mobility and be within the combat volume. You will immediately be declared defeated if your vehicle has been rendered immobile, has entirely left the combat volume, or has come in contact with any restricted surface.

B. If both vehicles are immobile, the robot controlling mobility shall be required to release the other robot after a period of no more than ten seconds has elapsed. In cases where neither robot controls mobility, both vehicles shall receive a draw.

C. Immobility is defined as the inability to move at rate of at least one foot beyond the base radius of the robot in a reasonable amount of time.

D. No vehicle shall be required to compete within ten minutes of a previous combat. If a robot cannot be repaired within a reasonable time, a forfeit will be declared by the judge(s), solely at the judge(s) discretion.

E. To claim victory in the Ant and Beetle weight classes, the opposing robot must be either pushed out of the arena into the designated area or disabled.

F. A robot that sits more than fifteen seconds without attempting to engage with an opponent will receive a warning from the judge(s) for "lack of aggression". Three warnings within a combat round will result in disqualification.

G. A contestant may forfeit a match by "tapping out", at which point both contestants must immediately cease fighting. A contestant who taps out and then continues to fight will be disqualified from the entire competition. Contestants need to make their tap out as clear as possible, so that the judge(s) and other competitor are aware of the tap out.

VI. Rule Adjustments

A. The Robot Battles ruleset is a set of guidelines. They can, and often will, be amended to adjust to changing technology and venue conditions. If at all possible, feedback will be requested from contestants, builders and audience members to make the rule changes as fair as possible, but the final decision rests with the event judge(s).

B. When necessary, the Robot Battles ruleset may be adjusted to fit in with another ruleset for a specific event. Those changes hold true for only that event and may be added to the main ruleset at a future time.

Latest update: November, 2016

Contents © Copyright 2020 by Kelly Lockhart.  All Rights Reserved. "Robot Battles" trademark and likeness used by permission.