Rules of Competition

Updated 9/21/01 [Used for seasons 2 and 3]

 1 Introduction

Robotica is a three-event competition featuring 24 Robots plus the design teams that build and operate them.

This document provides the rules, regulations, and restrictions necessary to ensure a safe and entertaining competition. Robot builders are urged to be as creative as possible, within the framework of this document. The show’s producers will consider design features not approved in the framework of this document on a case by case basis. Alternative features requested by participants may be allowed if they are deemed safe and in keeping with the spirit of the competition. Any changes in the approved specifications must be approved in writing and will be made available to all participants in the competition.




2 Competition Format

2.1 Advancement

All 24 competitors will compete in one of twelve preliminary matches. Each preliminary match will consist of two events. Preliminary match winners will move on to a semi-final match. Each semi-final match will consist of one event. The six competitors who win a final match will advance to the Championship Finals.

2.2 Event Types

There are two events to each preliminary match.

1. The Gauntlet - Two robots start at the point of a diamond-shaped track. At the start, they each travel in opposite directions down the track, collecting points by knocking down or destroying obstacles and fixtures in their path. After they have gotten past the obstacles on their leg of the track, they continue down the opposite leg, past whatever rubble/obstacles are still remaining. As the robots cross paths, they are allowed to battle each other to accumulate points. When one or both robots reach the starting point, they travel to the middle of the diamond, where they can accumulate more points by destroying the fixtures there. When the final obstacle is destroyed, the event is over.

2. The Labyrinth - Two robots start in the center of an open-channel maze. In various parts of the labyrinth, the robots must pass obstacles and destroy fixtures, both TBA. When all fixtures are destroyed (or after a pre-determined amount of time), the robots exit.

After two events, one Robot will advance to the semi-final round, which consists of one event.

1. Fight to the Finish - Robots will meet in an elevated arena. Surrounding the arena will be a moat filled with spikes. The object of this round is to disable your opponent and push him into the pit. At the start of this round, the arena will be surrounded on all sides by walls or guardrails. As the contest progresses, the walls will be lowered, exposing both Robots to the danger of falling off the edge of the platform.

There will be six semi-final round winners (one winner for each episode). These six will advance to the Finals. All Robots in the Finals will compete in two Preliminary challenges. The three Robots with the highest scores at the end of the preliminary rounds will advance to the "Fight to the Finish" to determine the ultimate champion.

2.3 Scoring of Matches & Declaration of Winner

The impartial referee will have final authority on the assessment of points, no exceptions.

1. The Gauntlet - Robots will receive points based on the number of obstacles and fixtures they pass/destroy. The winner will be the robot that accumulates the most points. Details TBA.

2. The Labyrinth - Robots will receive points based on the number and difficulty of obstacles past and fixtures destroyed. The winner will be the robot that accumulates the most points.

In the spirit of safe game play and fair sportsmanship, the impartial referee, at his discretion, may stop play in order to place an immobilized robot back in play. In this case, the clock will stop, and the immobilized robot will receive a point deduction TBA.

The Robot that has accumulated the most points at the end of both events moves on to the semi-final match.

If the Robots are tied at the end of the two preliminary rounds, both robots will move on to the Fight to the Finish.

3. The Fight to the Finish - There is no scoring for this match. The last machine left in the arena wins the event and moves on to the Championship Finals. If both robots are pushed off the platform, the robot that was on the platform last will be declared the winner. Total scores from the qualifying rounds will be used to seed the six finalists in the Championship Finals.

2.4 Event Frequency and Eligibility to Compete

All Robot participants must be in good working order to take part in the competition. In order to make this determination robots will be required to successfully complete a qualifying round prior to the program taping. The qualifying round will test robot's basic abilities and readiness to compete for our specific challenges. Specifics of the qualifying round TBA.

The robots that successfully complete the qualifying round advance to the preliminary round. In the event that a robot is unable to compete, a designated alternate robot will fill its slot. The choice of which alternate robot will fill in is at Producer's Discretion.

Each preliminary round is made up of two events. The winner of the preliminary round will compete in a semifinal match the day after the second preliminary round.

1. Preliminary Round - After each event, operators and their teams will have fourty-five minutes to make whatever repairs are necessary to their Robot. If a Robot is not mobile (able to power up and move in at least two directions), then the operator may take an additional 30 minute repair period, but will forfeit points (TBA). Operators can continue to take additional 30-minute repair periods at a forfeiture of points (TBA) until their Robot is operational. If they opt not to take the extra time, their machine is placed in the Robot impound until the competition resumes. Should both machines be immobile after the initial 30-minute repair period and both require additional time, no point penalty will be assessed. Participants may also use this repair period to make modifications to their Robot in preparation for the next event. Modifications must be approved by the Producers in advance.

2. Semi-Final Match - Participants advancing to the semi-final round will have 90 minutes to make repairs and modifications to their Robot. Show's producers and experts will have the right, at their own discretion, to afford more repair time to ensure an even semi-final match.

The show’s producers and experts determine all decisions regarding eligibility, and their decisions are final.

2.5 Competition Arena Specifics

*** Data included here is a rough approximation of sizes, weights and distances. Subject to change. ***

The general arena will be approximately 80 feet wide and 80 feet long. However, each event will be configured differently.

1. The Gauntlet - The course is in the shape of a diamond. Each side is identical, approx. 50’ long with a turn in the middle, and contains four increasingly difficult obstacles (ex. Glass, paint cans, bricks, tiles). In addition, in each arch there will be a breakable glass fixtures set at a height of approx. 4'-5'. The surface is painted wood decking. In the center of the track will be a number of glass fixtures, mounted vertically, to be destroyed by driving through them.

2. The Labyrinth - Possible challenges: The sand trap will be approx. 4" deep, the sides will be angled. The speed bumps will be approx. 6'x12"x1.5". The push box will be approx. 4'x4'x4', 20-30lbs, and does not have wheels. Breakable glass challenges will be set horizontal, approx. 2' from a dead-end, and placed at varying heights from approx. 2' to 5'. FURTHER DETAILS TBA.

3. Fight to the Finish- Arena will be 16' square. The arena will be elevated 8' off the ground. The surface is flat steel covered with traction paint. Guardrails will stand approximately 1 to 2 feet tall on all four sides of the arena. The center of the arena will be a 4’ diameter steel grate from which will spew intermittent smoke. Robots will enter the arena from an 8-foot tall raised platform that connects to the raised surface via a 6' wide bridge with guardrails. The bridge will retract once the Robot has entered the arena. The spike pit will be approx. five feet wide.

2.6 Decisions of Show's Producers, Experts, and Match Referees

The decision of show producers, experts and match referees regarding scoring, eligibility and declaration of winners are final. Producers reserve the right to make changes in the event rules and competition specifications at any time at its own discretion.

Participants acknowledge that the Producers are not responsible for costs incurred in the construction of Robots nor are the Producers responsible for costs associated with any damage incurred as a result of their participation in this event.

3. Robot Specifications

3.1 Size and Weight Restrictions

In order to be eligible, Robots must be able to fit within the physical confines of the challenges. As such, no Robot can be wider than four feet, taller than four feet, or longer than four feet in its normal resting state. Appendages that mechanically extend up to a foot beyond the maximum in any direction may be incorporated into the robot’s design. Robots shall weigh no more than 210 lbs. in their heaviest configuration. However, builders are urged to carefully examine the specific dimensions of the arena to make sure their Robots will be able to maneuver.

3.2 Power Sources and Drive Systems

All Robots entered into Robotica must be battery operated. No gasoline-powered engines of any kind will be accepted.

All batteries must be shielded to minimize the chance of spills or leaks. Shielding for car batteries, sealed lead-acid batteries, and similar batteries must be pre-approved. "Gel cell" shielding does not require pre-approval.

The primary concern of the Show's Producers is to ensure that Robots are safe. To that end, Show's Producers reserve the right to disallow any power source they, and/or their experts deem to be unsafe. Should this occur, Show's Producers will provide operators with fair notice of such a decision.

3.3 Removable Power Link

All robots must be equipped with a removable power link. Removing the link must disconnect power to ALL weapons and drive systems. The link's location on the robot must be clearly marked, and be accessible without the use of tools. The Show's Producers and Experts must deem the robot "safe" with the link removed.

3.4 Weapons

All weapons located on a Robot must be cleared in advance with Show's Producers. This includes, but is not limited to, any and all hydraulic systems, projectiles of any kind, flamethrowers, buzz saws, hammers and entanglement devices. While no particular weapon is expressly forbidden, Show's Producers, in the interest of safety, reserve the right to limit the use and design of weapons.

Show's producers will work with builders and operators to ensure that certain safety levels are maintained, while allowing builders maximum creativity.

If you make it to the Fight to the Finish, you will be required to have an active weapon on your robot. Use of the active weapon is optional in the preliminary rounds. An active weapon is one in which the action is remote controlled separately from the drive system. Two examples of an active weapon would be a saw, and a pneumatic spike.

3.4.1 Flame Throwers

Flame throwers are allowed, however, due to the Fire Codes of California and Los Angeles, their use and design must be severely restricted. Show's Producers and Experts will endeavor to allow any flame thrower that they deem safe, however, they must also reserve the right to require the removal or deactivation of the system prior to combat, based on the on-site Fire Marshall's opinion. The following are general guidelines for flame throwers:

  • Plans must be submitted to Show Producer's for initial approval
  • WD-40, Propane, or Acetylene powered
  • Output nozzle: 1/4" or larger
  • Flame bursts: no longer than 5 sec. at a time.
  • Flames may not be used against elements of the set
  • Fuel tanks must be shielded on all sides by a minimum of 3/8" aluminum or equivalent

3.4.2 Pneumatic Systems

  • Tank pressure maximum is 2000 PSI.
  • Gas expelled into the atmosphere for any reason cannot exceed 100 PSI (excluding gas expelled due to retraction of a gas-powered cylinder).
  • Operating pressure may not exceed the maximum rated pressure of the lowest-rated component in the system.
  • Under no circumstances may any component be operated beyond its maximum rated pressure (tank, hoses, cylinders, etc.).
  • Nitrogen or CO2 systems may be used, provided above rules are adhered to.
  • Any high-pressure tank must be shielded on all sides by a minimum of 3/8" aluminum or equivalent.

Please see item (6) for specific examples of approved and disallowed weaponry.

3.5 On-board Camera Systems

The Show's Producers request that all Robot Builders carry an on-board camera system, to be provided by the show. Builders acknowledge that while carrying the system is strongly encouraged, it is optional. They also acknowledge that an on-board camera system, or lack thereof, will not have any bearing on the outcome of a match. The weight of any camera system provided by the show will not be counted included in the 210 lb. weight limit.

3.5.1 Camera System Specs

    • Recorder box is 10"x9"x5" and must be mounted inside the robot.
    • The camera will be mounted through a 5/8" hole in a strategic spot, so that the camera will have some of the robot (ex.: a front-mounted appendage) in view.
    • Space behind the lens hole should be at least 3" deep, with a 2.25" diameter.
    • The recorder can be as far away from the camera as necessary.
    • Weight of the entire system is 56 oz.

3.6 Other Restrictions

  • All pressurized tanks must be shielded against damage by a minimum of 3/8" of aluminum or equivalent on all sides.
  • Any robot that is found to be intentionally attacking a competitor's removable safety link will be severely penalized, up to and including disqualification.
  • There will be no weight allowance for "walkers."
  • Contestants must operate their robot via radio-control from the designated area, i.e. "riding robots" will not be allowed.
  • Robots may not carry any device capable of operating autonomously or by radio control when physically separated from the robot, or attached by a tether.
  • Robots must not destroy any elements of the competition arena, i.e. "blasting" holes through the walls of the labyrinth. Any substances placed on the arena floor must be pre-approved and easy to clean. Any deliberate destruction of sets will result in immediate disqualification. Decision of Show’s Producers and Experts on these matters is final, no exceptions.

4. Pit Area

At all times, common sense and safety practices must be followed. Show's Producers reserve the right to eject any builder who is, in their opinion, being negligent or unsafe in any manner.

4.1 Personnel

Operators must approve all pit crew personal with Show Producers. All pit crew personnel must be willing to appear on camera, wear uniforms provided by the show, and must sign on-camera release forms.

At a future date, Show Producers reserve the right to make a determination limiting the number of pit crew members per team.

4.2 Allowable Materials

Operators may bring as many spare parts as they wish. However, it is strictly forbidden to bring a replacement Robot to swap out during the competition. Pre-assembled, replacement parts must first be cleared with Show's Producers.

Show's Producers, and their experts, reserve the right to disallow any materials they deem unsafe from the pit area.

4.3 Testing Area

Show's Producers will provide teams with a testing area, which may be used, at the operator's discretion, between rounds.

4.4 Impound Area

Robots will be sent to an impound area under the following scenarios.

  • After a Robot and operator has exhausted their 45 minute repair period, should show producers not be ready to begin the next event, Robots will be placed in impound until such time producers are ready to continue.
  • At the conclusion of each day's competition, Robots will be placed in impound overnight.
  • During any day of the competition in which an operator's machine is not competing.
When placed in impound, operators can have no access to their machines. Impound area will be guarded against tampering 24 hours a day.

4.5 Frequency Allocation

Operators may not use their R/C transmitter for robot testing, unless they are displaying the tag corresponding to their Operating Channel/frequency. For this reason, Builders are encouraged to bring a choice of two or more sets of crystals, as well as a servo controller for testing components on their robot. Frequency tags will be distributed in a check-out/check-in fashion.

5 Contestant Selection Process

Robotica is both a robotics competition and a television show. Thus, the 24 contestants selected to participate will be based upon several different criteria.

All participants will be required to complete a personal profile form that will seek information one the background and history of each participant.

5.1 Ability to Construct a Viable Robot

Contestants must be able to demonstrate an ability to construct and operate a Robot capable of competing in the various challenges. Factors to be considered will include, but are not limited to, training in mechanical engineering, past experience in robot combat competitions, previously constructed robots and financial means.

5.2 Willingness to Appear on Camera

Contestants must be comfortable appearing on camera. This is far more difficult than it might seem. Using their expertise in such matters, Show Producers will pre-interview all potential contestants to determine those most suitable for the program.

5.3 Casting Considerations

In an effort to make the most interesting and entertaining television program possible, Show Producers will attempt to find contestants with personal stories that coincide with the themes of the show. Thus, Show Producers might give extra consideration to contestants with dynamic, unusual or otherwise entertaining story lines.

5.4 Scheduling Conflicts

Contestants must be able to attend championships in Los Angeles, California on the pre-determined date of their particular event. Contestants must also be traveled to Los Angeles at a reasonable cost. Show Producers will make best efforts not to allow scheduling and financial considerations stand in the way of selecting contestants, but reserve the right to make such a determination if they deem it necessary.

5.5 Decisions of the Show Producers

Decisions of the Show Producers concerning selection of contestants are final. Show Producers will make every available effort to give potential contestants not selected for this competition first consideration for future competitions.

5.6 Minors

5.6.1 Minors must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian at all times.

5.6.2 No minor under the age of 12 will be allowed near the game areas or in the pits when other robots are there. Builders who have minors as part of their team can have them included in the production of the "builder background package," but anyone under 12 cannot be on the deck during the competition or in the pits. They may sit in the audience section with an adult parent or legal guardian.

5.6.3 Minors who are older than 12 and are part of the team may have to be schooled and should be prepared for this. We will provide a teacher/welfare worker on set who will insure that schooling occurs. They should bring their necessary books, assignments, etc. from school.

5.6.4 The above referenced teacher rules are controlled by the child labor laws of the State of California, which has absolute jurisdiction. Also, as welfare workers, the on set teachers may restrict any minors' involvement in any activity that they deem to be dangerous. Their call in these matters is final and may affect the minors who are older than 12 to an extent above and beyond our rules.

6 Specific Examples of Approved/Disallowed Weapons

6.1 Approved

  • Inflatable air bag (NON-automotive)
  • Magnets
  • Pneumatic lifting/flipping shovel
  • 10" pneumatic-powered spike
  • 8.25" carbide tipped steel-cutting circular saw blade
  • Tethered grappling hook on a winch
  • Hydraulic crushing jaw
  • CO2 powered pneumatic system with a hammer/pick/saw on an arm
  • Oil slick (limited – 1 fluid ounce)
  • 8-10 8" saw blades mounted vertically across the front of the robot
  • 36" horizontally rotating steel blade
  • Air cannon containing a net (Only two net shots allowed per round)
  • "spinning mass" weapons

6.2 Disallowed

  • Compressed oxygen for use in flame throwers
  • Automotive airbags
  • Liquid fuel (non-propane) flame throwers
  • Road flares/uncontrolled flame
  • Electric shockers
  • Devices that interfere with other competitor’s radio control
  • Dropping metal filings
  • Gunpowder
  • Spraying corrosive substances

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