Rules & Expectations for FIRST Robotics Competition Events
Team Updates notify the FIRST Robotics Competition community of content changes to any official season documentation (e.g. the Game & Season Manual, Award deadlines, drawing changes, etc.) or important season news. Team Updates will not highlight typo fixes. Any changes to the following documentation will be highlight in a Team Update. The dates listed under Updates will be changed to reflect the associated Team Update where any updates are made. This document is considered the authority on Rules & Expectations for FIRST Robotics Competition Events.
This page presents teams with what they can expect at events, important “to dos,” recommended items and practices that are likely helpful while competing, and official rules for participants. Its content is not season-specific. All official rules for the current season are in a Game & Season Manual released at Kickoff.
The rules below apply throughout an event: from load in to load out.
E01. Teams may not be in The Pits outside of pit hours.
E02. All team members must wear safety glasses, closed toed/heeled shoes, and tie back long hair.
E03. Teams are not permitted to save seats for team members that are not present.
E04. Teams may not hang banners or ribbons or otherwise designate seating. (Event staff will remove and discard any banners, roping, etc., used to designate seating) Please take turns sitting in the bleachers if seating is limited. If there is a crowding problem, we ask that you kindly leave after your team’s match and return later, if possible.
E05. Items may not be thrown from audience seating.
E06. Do not bring or use
- bottled gas tanks (e.g. helium)
- noisy devices, such as floor stompers, whistles and/or air horns
E07. Do not arrange for Internet access or phone lines from venue service providers or attempt to use venue internet connections reserved for event purposes (e.g., FMS or streaming).
E08. Do not sell any products. This includes food, hats, shirts or any promotional products.
E09. Do not distribute any food products, such as candy, water, soft drinks or fruit.
E10. Do not sell raffle tickets.
E11. Do not invite or bring live bands to play in the audience.
E12. Do not play loud music in The Pit.
E13. Teams may not damage bleachers, floors, or other venue features.
E14. Inappropriate clothing is not permitted.
What to Bring
Depending on a team’s resources and event goals, there are a variety of items that they may find helpful. This section identifies common tools, references, etc. that are strongly recommended and specifies rules, as appropriate.
All teams are invited to bring a banner, designed to meet the specification posted here, to post over their driver station during a match.
We ask that you bring attention to your team in ways that are in good taste and in the spirit of the competition.
Consent and Release Forms (if not done electronically)
Hard copies of the Consent and Release forms must be turned in to the Pit Administration desk before a team is eligible to compete at an event. Details on the Consent and Release form process are available here.
We strongly encourage all students and mentors to submit their Consent and Release forms electronically, because it makes the check-in process easier and there’s no excess paperwork to collect and keep track of. Additionally, electronic Consent and Release forms cover a team member for the entire season: from Kickoff through FIRST Championship. However, “hard copies” of the form (i.e. printed and signed) must be provided at each event attended.
- Mentors registered in the Team Registration System may complete the electronic Consent and Release form in that system.
- Student team members/Parents may complete their Consent and Release forms electronically via the FIRST Youth Team Member Registration (STIMS). More information can be found here.
- Mentors must turn in a Team Roster when they check-in at Pit Administration, along with any hard copy forms. Rosters and hard copy forms must be turned in at each competition event the team attends.
We encourage teams to bring team flags and/or signs for display in their pits and/or the playing field area, under these rules:
E15. Do not cover or move other team or sponsor signs already in place.
E16. Share the available space fairly with other teams.
E17. Do not obstruct the view of spectators.
E18. Hang signs in a safe manner.
E19. At the end of the event, safely remove all signs and anything used to hang the signs (tape, string, etc.).
E20. Respect venue-specific rules regarding sign location and hanging method.
Mascots and Team Costumes
Many teams display their team and school identify by including their mascot in the event. This is strongly encouraged, but consider that awards acceptance often means descending and ascending stairs/bleachers. Mascot and other costumes must be safe and comfortable for the wearer.
Most teams use carts to transport their robot throughout an event. Carts are not required, but are strongly recommended (to minimize risk of muscle strains, dropped robots, and other hazards).
Any team using a robot cart must abide by the following rules:
E21. Carts must be easy to control, maneuver, and pose no risk to bystanders. Carts identified as unsafe by event staff may not be used.
E22. Carts must fit through a standard 30-inch door.
E23. Carts must remain in the team pit area (or in the cart staging area, if during a match) when not in use.
E24. Carts may not damage flooring.
E25. Carts may not be equipped with music or other sound-generating devices, except for devices of reasonable volume used for safety purposes (e.g. to make others in the direct vicinity aware that a robot is on the move).
In addition to the rules listed above, teams are strongly encouraged to put the team’s number on the cart, refer to the FIRST Safety Manual for robot lifting techniques, and practice putting the robot on and off the cart to develop a quick, fluid routine.
Teams often bring small items to give away to others at the event. This is completely optional, but is a great way to promote your team’s identity. The most popular item to give away is a button with your team logo and number.
Team Spirit and Team “Look”
When deciding on a team name or acronym, consider how you can work a theme around it to make your team more fun and recognizable. Part of the pleasure of being a team member or mentor is the way the team stylizes itself.
Team numbers provide unique identification for FIRST Robotics Competition teams. We strongly recommend that you include the team number on all team T-shirts, trading buttons, hats, cheers and costumes.
In addition to the items described throughout this section, a one-page checklist, Suggested List of Items to Bring to an Event, covers other tools/aids teams should consider bringing.
What To Do
Each event sets specific time frames, published on the event’s agenda, in which teams are invited to load their robots and equipment in to their pit areas.
In general, Load In can be stressful for teams and volunteers; which can be mitigated by preparation and planning. Unanticipated factors, like traffic, weather, or other events, can change a team’s scheduled arrival time, making the process difficult. The most important things a team should remember are to be safe and embody Gracious Professionalism. Teams that experience smooth and easy Load Ins are encouraged to check with others to see if they can help and make their experience as positive as possible.
E26. Teams must bring their equipment in safely.
E27. Teams may only bring materials to and leave materials in their pit area.
E28. Teams must leave when done with drop off (or, in the case of Early Pit Setup, when setup is complete).
E29. No work, of any kind, may be done on the robot or robot-related materials (e.g. items in a team’s withholding allowance). The only exception is that teams may plug chargers in and start charging batteries.
E30. The robot must stay in the bag and sealed.
Early Pit Setup
At some of events, the Load In period allows teams to set up their pit area before the event officially starts. If this is the case, it will be indicated on the event’s agenda.
If pit set up is allowed, the following rule applies (in addition to Team Load In and General Pit Rules):
E32. Teams must have their pits in a safe state by the time pits close (even if some tasks are left undone).
E32-1. Only five team members (one of which must be an adult) may be in the pit area, and this must be for the purposes of pit set up only.
E32-2. Once pit set-up is complete, or the early Pit Set-up time the evening before pits open to all has ended, team members must immediately leave the pit area
If an event has designated Early Pit Setup times both the evening before and the morning before pits open to all, a team may use both periods to set up its pits, but, per E32-2, must leave once pit set up is complete. Teams can be expected to be asked to leave by event personnel if it is noted that their pit set up is complete and they have not yet left the pit area.
Event check-in takes place at the Pit Administration station the evening before and/or the first morning of each event.
E33. An adult team member must check in no later than noon on the first competition day of the event.
Upon receipt of your team’s consent and release forms, each team will receive the following:
- Drive Team & Safety Captain Badges
- Pit Map
- Practice Match Schedule, if available
- Event Team List
To ensure all robots are eligible to compete (per the Game and Season Manual, released on Kickoff), there is an official Robot Inspection Station at each event staffed by certified Inspectors. Inspectors can help find problems and/or provide suggestions during an early inspection.
Robots must pass inspection before competing in Qualification matches.
Inspectors will use a checklist for inspecting robots; a draft copy of which will be posted on the Game and Materials site during the build season. Inspectors check off items on an inspection sheet as the team meets each piece of inspection criteria. Teams are strongly encouraged to use this checklist to pre-inspect the robot before bagging it. This will help official inspection go smoother and quicker.
Teams are encouraged to start the Inspection process as soon as possible. Bring your robot to the Robot Inspection Station early. Partial inspections, such as height and weight compliance, help prevent an inspection clog at the end of the day.
If an Inspector identifies something noncompliant on a robot, the team should correct the issue and return for inspection, or ask for an inspection to be completed in your pit, until the robot passes.
Inspectors may re-inspect randomly before or after matches to ensure continued safety and compliance.
Pit Closing Etiquette
Teams must adhere to the Pit closing time each day. Many people working in the Pits are volunteers and deserve to have a set closing time. Get ready for Pit closing in advance by assigning team members and mentors to the role of pit clean up and organization. Please make sure your pit space and surrounding areas are clean when you leave the site each day.
Report Medical Incidents
FIRST strives to create an environment in which team members can grow, learn, and have fun with minimal risk of injury. FIRST requires that physical injuries and medical problems, however slight, be documented and reported to the party conducting the event or his or her designee and to FIRST Headquarters within 48 hours of the occurrence. Should an incident or illness occur at an event, we ask that you do the following:
- Report it to the EMT or nurse.
- Have an adult mentor complete a Medical Incident Report at Pit Administration. Pit Administration staff will be available to help complete the form. Once the form is completed, it should be turned in to Pit Administration, who will take the process from there.
Report Non-Medical Incidents
FIRST maintains a culture where concerns about safety, comfort, and fairness can be raised and addressed. If anyone states that they feel threatened or uncomfortable because of verbal abuse, inappropriate contact, or other negative behaviors that are not in the spirit or event rules of FIRST, we ask that you complete a Non-Medical Incident Report to formally document the event.
This form may be used to report witnessed violations of any rules in this section, such as the rules against seat saving or throwing objects from seating areas. The fastest and easiest way to resolve such issues is often to have a friendly conversation with the individual or individuals engaging in the behavior. It’s very possible they are not aware of the rule being violated. However, if you are not comfortable doing so, or have attempted that approach and it has not worked, please report it on the Non-Medical Incident Report form.
FIRST takes all disclosures and indications of risk seriously, and will work to resolve the issue quickly, while honoring every individual’s right to privacy.
Non-Medical Incident Forms are kept at the Pit Administration area and may be completed anonymously. Pit Administration staff will be available to help complete the form. Once the form is completed, it should be turned in to Pit Administration, who will take the process from there.
Each event publishes an agenda detailing location and timing (including when to drop-off your robot, when you can set up your pit area, ceremony timing, etc.), which is linked from the event’s “Event Information” page on the FIRST website (“Event Information” pages can be found here). Most events will have agendas published by February 15, 2017.
Teams are encouraged to review agendas for each event they will attend and have them available (either hard copy, soft copy, or bookmarked on a device) while on site.
At every event, there are Opening and Closing Ceremonies to show honor and respect for represented countries, sponsors, teams, mentors, volunteers and award winners. Ceremonies provide everyone with the opportunity to applaud the successes of team members and mentors. They also give teams a chance to “meet” the judges, referees, MCs and other important persons and sponsors involved with the event.
At the Awards Ceremony, FIRST presents trophies and medallions to outstanding teams. We encourage all team members to attend the ceremonies, on time, to show appreciation for the event and those people involved who are volunteering their time and efforts. An exception is if a few team members need to remain in their pit to continue work on their robot during the Opening or Closing Ceremonies, they may.
Event rules specific to ceremonies are as follows:
E34. Team members may not use power tools, hammers, or other noisy tools.
E35. No more than 5 team members are allowed in the team’s pit during ceremonies.
E36. Team members (including any remaining in the team pit) must observe the code of behavior for the presentation of all national anthems.
E37. Team members must stand facing the flag, maintain a respectful silence, and remove hats during national anthems.
E38. Do not form “tunnels” during the Awards Ceremony.
First Aid Station
Each event hosts a First Aid Station to assist with any injury or illness. First Aid Stations are in the Pits (refer to the Pit map for the exact location), and teams should make sure all team members know where to get First Aid.
E39. Pit Administration Station must be notified of any injuries or illness.
Lost and Found
If you find or lose an article, report to the Pit Administration station to fill out a “Lost Item Report” or turn in an article you find. We will make every reasonable attempt to return articles to owners.
Some events host a machine shop, open during specific hours (see the event’s agenda), to help teams with repair and fabrication of their robots. Machine shops are typically sponsored by NASA or local organizations. While the machine shops vary, FIRST strives to have welding and a variety of high-powered tools available at all events.
In most cases, the machine shop is on site and readily accessible to all teams. If a team attends an event where the Machine Shop is off-site, volunteers are in place to transport the robot or parts to and from the machine shop. In this case, a team fills out a Machine Shop Request Form that travels with the robot or parts, so the machine shop staff and volunteers can follow their directions. The event should set up a method of communication between the venue and off-site Machine Shop in case there are any questions.
E40. Team members may not travel with the robot to off-site machine shops.
E41. Teams may travel to the off-site Machine Shop on their own, either by walking or using their own vehicle, but all student team members must be accompanied by an adult at all times.
Teams should strongly consider including a third team member per the FIRST Youth Protection Program guidelines. The Youth Protection Program guidelines can be found here.
Team-Provided Mobile Machine Shops
FIRST welcomes team-provided mobile machine shop facilities/trailers at events that comply with FIRST and venue requirements.
E42. Team-provided shops must provide their own security measures for the equipment (for example: bring a lock for a trailer).
Neither FIRST nor the venue will provide these services, nor are they liable for any loss or damage to team-owned equipment that should occur at the event.
E43. Team-provided shops must be run by properly trained individuals who are 18 years or older.
E44. Student team members may not operate shop equipment.
E45. Team-provided shops must comply with local restrictions, such as fire codes and venue approval.
FIRST will do its best to convey any relevant needs and work on your behalf to gain venue approval through a professional, legal process.
E46. Team-provided shops must be equipped with their own electrical sources.
E47. Access to Team-provided shops may not be restricted to certain teams (i.e. all teams at an event must have equal access to Team-provided shop services).
E48. Job requests must go through the same counter/process as a FIRST provided shop.
We recommend using a standard Machine Shop Request Form.
E49. Team-provided shops may only operate when the Pit is open.
Machine Tools at Events
Small, bench-top machinery, with appropriate guards, is permitted in team pits. ‘Small’ machinery is machinery that can be easily lifted by one person.
Examples: Small band saws, drill presses, desktop CNC mills, and sanders.
When using tools in the pit, be sure to use them properly, in a safe and controlled manner. Unsafe operation, especially those that endanger others and your team, will be subject to scrutiny by the event staff and safety reviewers. Their findings may result in team warnings or event expulsion.
Please adhere to the following safety rules regarding pit safety and tool use:
E50. Tools that throw sparks are prohibited.
Examples: Electric welders, bench grinders and angle grinders.
E51. Tools that produce open flames are prohibited.
Examples: Gas welders and propane/MAPP gas torches.
E52. Floor standing power tools are prohibited.
Examples: Full-size drill presses, full-size band saws and full-size table saws.
E53. Grinding or painting in the pit is prohibited.
Designated grinding and painting areas are available to teams.
E54. Brazing/welding is prohibited at the team pits.
E55. Soldering may be done using an electric iron/gun only.
Pit Administration is centrally located in the Pit area. FIRST staff members and/or volunteers run this area to check teams in and help teams and visitors. Come to the Pit Administration to:
- turn in your team’s roster and any hard copy Consent and Release forms,
- check-in and receive your check in envelope and badges,
- get answers to most questions, including machine shop access,
- ask about lost and found articles, and
- report an illness, injury, or other incident.
The Pit Announcer and Queue Volunteers help maintain the practice and match schedules. Teams should designate a team member to know the team’s match schedule, carefully watch the clock, alert the team when a match is coming up, and review the Pit map to find the pre-set traffic pattern.
Once a team is called, the Drive Team should report to queuing with their robot.
If a team is in any of the first four matches of any day of competition, the team’s robot and drive team must queue prior to the Opening Ceremony.
Teams attending FIRST Championship should queue thirty minutes prior to a match. They should monitor play within their respective division and adjust queuing time accordingly and check with the Lead Field Queuing personnel with any questions.
Because teams must pick partner teams for Playoff Matches, many teams research other teams’ strategies and robot capabilities. Teams often use the Qualification Schedule to plan scouting efforts.
There have been occasions when items such as cameras and laptops have “disappeared” from the Pit or competition area. Use common sense and do not leave valuable items unattended. Neither the site nor FIRST is responsible for any theft. Take valuable items with you, or designate a team representative to remain with them in the team Pit or competition areas.
Spare Parts Station
Select robot parts are available at each event, however availability varies from event to event. If a team needs a replacement high-value item, “Loaners” are on hand and must be returned before the end of the event.
Teams are encouraged to bring unused parts to assist and support each other. This kindness can expand your FIRST network of friends as you exchange parts.
At events, FIRST staff, event staff and volunteers wear badges with their role. Should team members or mentors have questions or a problem, staff and volunteers will help find the answer.
A team pit is the designated space, usually 10 ft. by 10 ft. by 10 ft., where a team may work on their robot. Each team is assigned a pit space marked with their team number. This helps team members, judges, and visitors find teams easily. Each team’s pit has a table and power outlet.
Teams, volunteers, FIRST staff and guests spend a lot of time in the Pit area. Get to know other teams and help each other when you can. Time is short and help is very often right “next door” in the adjacent team pits.
E56. Aisles must be kept clear.
E57. Children under 12 MUST be accompanied in the Pit by an Adult at all times.
E58. Any pit structures that is deemed unsafe or outside specifications by FIRST personnel, event management, and/or local committee members must be removed.
E59. The height of a team’s pit may not exceed 10 feet (this includes the height of signs, flags, banners, etc.).
E60. Keep your equipment and team members within your assigned area, and do not “grow” into the aisle or any other spaces in the venue.
If your team is too large to fit into the allotted pit space, encourage your team to leave the area to scout other teams and/or to watch the matches.
E61. Do not add to your space by setting up in another area.
E62. Teams may not build any structure that supports people or items for storage above the work area in their pit.
E63. Team signs, flags, and displays must be securely mounted to the pit structure.
At each event, there is a predetermined traffic flow pattern to maximize safety and efficiency of the team/robot entrance to and exit from the competition area. Refer to the Pit map for the flow. Queuing volunteers maintain this pattern at each competition event. Please obey the traffic rules to ensure an efficient lineup for practice and competition.