UCD Crest Siemens RoboRugby Autonomous Robot Design Competition Siemens Logo
HOME   |   SESSIONS   |   KIT   |   COMPETITION   |   NEWS   |   FAQ   |   LINKS


RoboRugby 2015 - Competition Rules

General Robot Construction Impounding Startup Play Scoring Winning Ranking Round Extra Rules


These are the proposed rules for the 2015 RoboRugby competition.

Tournament:  The RoboRugby competition will consist of a double-elimination tournament, as outlined in Appendix A.  Each robot will compete in a series of matches against other robots.  After losing two matches, a robot will be eliminated.  The robot that wins the final match will be the overall winner of the competition.

Match:  In each match, two robots will compete against each other on the RoboRugby table.  The objective for each robot is to move the game objects into the scoring areas of the table, so as to score as many points as possible, in the time allowed.  A robot may also try to minimise the points scored by its opponent, subject to some restrictions.  At the end of a match, scores will be calculated using the scoring rules.  The winner of the match will be determined using a set of rules designed to avoid a tie - every match must have a winner.

Game Objects:  The game objects are 15 small coloured balls and one larger cube, which can be moved around the table by the robots.

Ranking:  Before the tournament, there will be a ranking round, where each robot will perform without opposition.  The results of the ranking round will decide the starting position of each robot in the tournament diagram (seeding), and may be used, as a last resort, to decide the winner of a match in the competition.

Penalties:  Violation of any of the rules may result in a team forfeiting a match or being disqualified from the competition, at the discretion of the RoboRugby organizers.

Changes:  All rules are subject to change at the discretion of the RoboRugby organizers.  Any new rules (either additional or replacement) will be placed in the Extra Rules section.

Interpretation:  The interpretation of the rules will be decided by the RoboRugby organizers.  All decisions of the RoboRugby organizers are final, except those that change.

Robot Construction

  1. Kit parts:  The robot must be built only from the parts in the kit provided, except when explicitly allowed by other rules.  All kits contain the same set of components, although some parts may be coloured differently in different kits.

  2. Assembly:  The structure of the robot must consist of Lego parts, held together by normal Lego studs, pins, axles, etc.  LEGO parts may not be modified in any way.  LEGO parts may not be joined by adhesive.

  3. Additional parts:  Electronic components, wire, circuit board, insulating tape, sticky-pads and rubber bands will be available in the laboratory.  These items may be used only in reasonable quantities, and only for the specific purposes listed below.  In particular, these additional parts may not be used to increase the rigidity of the robot.

    • Rubber bands may be used for purposes that require their flexibility or elasticity.

    • Wire may be used only for electrical purposes, or for mechanical purposes that require its flexibility.

    • Electronic components may be used to build sensors or to emit visible light.  Plugs may be used to connect electronic components or circuits to the Handyboard.

    • Circuit board may be used only in small pieces for building electrical circuits.  It may not be used as part of the structure of the robot.

    • Insulating tape may be used in small quantities for shielding or mounting sensors or other electronic components.  It may be used for its adhesive properties, to make a temporary connection between a part of the robot and another object.  It may also be used for its smooth surface, to reduce friction.  It may not be used to bind Lego parts together.

    • Sticky-pads may be used only in small pieces to mount sensors on the robot.

    • Rubber bands or insulating tape may be applied to LEGO wheels and treads to alter the coefficient of friction.  No other material may be applied to wheels or treads.

  4. Decorations:  Decorative Lego parts may be made available in the laboratory, in small numbers.  Paper decorations and/or decorative Lego parts may be added to the robot provided they perform only an aesthetic function, and do not contribute to the structure of the robot or to its performance in the competition.

  5. Lubricants:  No lubricants of any kind are permitted.

  6. Sections:  A section is a group of connected parts (including a single part).  A robot may be constructed as up to three separate sections, but at the start of a match, each section must be in contact with at least one other section of the robot.

  7. Dimensions:  In its starting configuration, the robot's dimensions must not exceed 355 mm by 325 mm in plan and 700 mm in height.  A measuring gauge may be used to check the size of the robot, but the robot must satisfy this rule without being constrained by the measuring gauge or any other means.  For storage and transport, the robot must fit completely within the plastic storage box provided, with the lid of the box closed.

  8. Identification:  To facilitate identification of the robot, the number on the Handyboard should be visible.  If necessary, an alternative label may be agreed with the organizers.  Also, to allow identification of the two robots in each match, the robot must include a "flag-pole" - a vertical Lego axle, in a prominent position, on which a coloured paper flag may be placed.

  9. Start-up:  To facilitate the start-up sequence in matches, the START and STOP buttons and the ON-OFF switch on the Handyboard must be accessible.  A yellow LED must be connected so that it can be used by the start-up software, and mounted so that it is clearly visible.  The robot must also be designed and constructed so that, when placed on the table in the intended starting position, it can receive infra-red signals from one of the beacons on the table.

  10. Infra-red light:  Horizontal transmission of infra-red light is not permitted, with the exception of light emitted by the distance sensors provided.  Any other infra-red light source used must be installed so that it emits light mainly in a downward direction.


  1. Before the competition, but after the ranking round, all the robots and their programs will be impounded.  The exact time of impounding will be announced later.

  2. After impounding, the structure of the robot may not be altered in any way.  Repairs may be made and batteries may be charged between matches as time permits.

  3. After impounding, the robot's program may not be altered in any way.  In the event of the robot's program being lost for any reason, a copy of the program may be downloaded from an official computer between matches.  The program available for download will be the version submitted on impounding.  Contestants are not permitted to download any program to the robot from any other device after impounding.


  1. Set-up time:  Before each match, the contestants will have up to 60 seconds to set up their robot.  During this time the infra-red beacons at the ends of the table will be on.  Separate sections of the robot must be placed in contact, moving elements of the robot may be set to desired positions, elastic bands may be stretched, etc.  Programs may be run to adjust parameters in the competition software, to choose strategy options, to calibrate sensors, to adjust for battery condition, etc.  No other alterations to the robot are allowed - the robot must start every match in the same mechanical and structural state.

  2. Starting area:  The approximate starting area is shown on the table diagram.  The constraints are:

    • Some part of the robot must be vertically above the white line that runs North-South, 220 mm from the side wall of the table.  No part of the robot may extend beyond this line, into the area between the line and the side wall of the table.
    • Some part of the robot must be touching or vertically above the white bump that bounds the try zone.  No part of the robot may extend beyond this white bump, into the try zone.
    • No part of the robot may touch or overhang any other white line or any ball.
  3. Starting position:  Before the end of the set-up time, the contestants must set up their robot in the North or South starting area, as required by the organizers.  The contestants may position the robot anywhere in the starting area, in any orientation, provided that the constraints of rule 15 are met.  Also, to facilitate the start-up procedure, the robot must be able to receive the infra-red signal from one of the beacons.

  4. Identification:  Before the end of the set-up time, the contestants must attach the appropriate coloured flag to their robot, and display their team name above the North or South end of the table, as appropriate.  Team names must be as agreed with the organisers.

  5. Arming:  When both teams are ready, the beacons will be switched off.  When notified, the contestants must arm their robots by pressing the START button on the Handyboard.  The contestants must then stand back from the table.

  6. Starting:  To start the match, the beacons will be switched on.  The robots will play a tune and the yellow LED will flash for 5 seconds to confirm that the robots are synchronised and ready to start.  After these 5 seconds, the robots are permitted to start.  If there is any problem with the start, the organizers may abandon the start sequence. 

  7. Start-up software:  Software to implement this start-up procedure will be provided by the organizers and must be used as instructed.  This software will also shut down the robot after 60 seconds of play.

  8. Failure to start:  A robot that fails to respond to the start-up procedure may be reset by the team and the start-up procedure will be repeated.  Such a failure will count as a false-start.

  9. Early start:  If a robot or any part of a robot starts moving after the set-up period has ended but before the start of the match, the start will be abandoned.  Such an event will count as a false start.

  10. Slow set-up:  If a team takes more than the allotted 60 seconds for set-up, this counts as a false-start.  Additional set-up time may be granted at the discretion of the RoboRugby organizers.  Exceeding additional set-up time allowances may result in another false-start.

  11. False start penalty:  If three false starts are counted against the same robot in any one match, the robot forfeits that match.


  1. Time:  After the start, the robots have 60 seconds to compete and score points.  At the end of 60 seconds, the robot must turn off electrical power to its actuators (motors and servo).  Software will be provided to do this.  A match may be terminated after less than 60 seconds, if the organisers and both teams agree to this (for example, if both robots have stopped moving and are unlikely to resume).

  2. Separation:  During a match, a robot may separate into at most three separate sections as part of its strategy (see rule 6).  Robots may not be designed to, nor have a tendency to, break into multiple (more than three) sections to gain strategic advantage.

  3. Control:  During a match, a robot must be controlled solely by its onboard computer, using the software submitted at impounding.

  4. Human intervention:  During the match and scoring, the human contestants must remain at least 1 m from the table.  They may not touch the table or a robot or otherwise interfere with the match or the scoring.

  5. Fair play:  The objective in RoboRugby is to win a match by scoring more points than the opposing robot.  A robot may be designed to impede or obstruct the opposing robot, but not to damage or destroy it.  For example:

    • A robot may make contact with the other robot, provided the intent is to impede the movement of the other robot or to prevent the robot from executing its strategy correctly.  Contact intended to damage the other robot is not allowed.

    • A robot may shoot a projectile in any direction (including in the direction of the other robot), provided the main purpose of the projectile is to move balls or to obstruct the other robot.  Projectiles intended to damage the other robot are not allowed.  Projectiles that present a hazard to humans are excluded under rule 31.

    • Robots may not use battering-rams, hammers, or similar devices to hit the other robot.

  6. Damage:  A robot may not be designed to damage or to attempt to damage:  the table or any part of the table;  the beacons or their support and shielding structures;  the lights above the table;  the game objects;  the Handyboard on either robot in a match.  A robot that shows a tendency to cause such damage may be disqualified.

  7. Safety:  Robots must not present a safety hazard to the competitors, organizers or spectators.  A robot that is deemed to present a hazard will be disqualified.


  1. The score that each robot receives is determined by the final state of the contest table after the match has been played and has ended.

  2. The match ends when all robots and game objects on the table come to rest after the 60-second play period has elapsed, or earlier if agreed (see rule 25).

  3. A scoring area is the area enclosed by raised bumps at either end of the table, as shown in the table diagram.

  4. The score of each robot will be based on the game objects in the opposite scoring area at the end of the match.  So the score for the robot starting in the South starting area will be based on the game objects in the North scoring area, and vice versa.

  5. Each scoring area is divided into two parts.  Game objects touching the black horizontal surface of the table in the larger parts, called the "try zone", count once.  Game objects touching the grey horizontal surface of the table in the smaller part, called the "conversion zone", count twice.  The ball holders in the scoring area are deemed to be part of the surface of the table.

  6. Game objects "on the lines" are scored as if in the try zone.  A game object is "on the line" if it is touching one of the raised bumps, and is NOT touching the black or grey horizontal surface of the table.  (This is only likely to occur if the game object is also touching another object.)

  7. Game objects in the scoring area, but resting on other objects, do not score unless they are also touching the black or grey horizontal surface of the scoring area or one of the raised bumps surrounding it, as in rules 34, 36 and 37 above.

  8. Game objects touching the walls of the scoring area do not score, unless they are also touching the black or grey horizontal surface of the scoring area or one of the raised bumps surrounding it, as in rules 34, 36 and 37 above.

  9. There are 10 white balls, 4 yellow balls and 1 red ball on the table.  White balls are worth 1 point, yellow balls are worth 2 points, and the red ball is worth 3 points.  There is also one grey cube on the table, which counts as -3 points.  Thus the maximum number of points one robot can score if it places all 15 balls in the conversion zone is  2*(10*1 + 4*2 + 3) = 42 points.


  1. In each match, the winning robot is decided using the rules below.  The first rule that distinguishes between the robots decides the winner.  Rules 42 to 44 are definitions of terms used in this rule.

    1. the robot that scored more points, according to the scoring rules above

    2. the robot that scored the red ball

    3. the robot that scored more yellow balls

    4. the robot that scored more yellow balls in the conversion zone

    5. the robot that scored more balls in the conversion zone

    6. the robot that does not have the grey cube in its scoring area

    7. the robot that has more yellow balls on the same side as its scoring area

    8. the robot that has more white balls on the same side as its scoring area

    9. the robot that has the grey cube on the opposite side to its scoring area

    10. the robot that is closer to its scoring area (measured as perpendicular distance from the end wall of the table to the nearest part of the main section of the robot, rounded down to an integer number of cm)
    11. the robot that has been on the same side of the table as its scoring area, at some time during the match

    12. the robot that moved some part of itself, under its own power, at some time during the match

    13. the robot with the higher ranking from the ranking round

  2. The table is divided into a North "side" and a South "side" by a lateral white line across the centre of the table, parallel to the short side of the table.  This lateral white line is not part of either side.

  3. A game object is on a particular side of the table if the entire object is on or above that side of the table.  If any part of the game object is on or above the lateral white line, then it is not on either side.

  4. A robot is on a particular side of the table if the entire main section of the robot is on or above that side of the table.  If any part of the main section of the robot is on or above the lateral white line, then the robot is not on either side.  The "main section" of the robot is that section of the robot that is connected to the Handyboard.

  5. If one of the robots in a match forfeits the match for any reason, it will receive a loss and the opposing robot will be declared the winner of that match without having to play the match.

Ranking Round

  1. Before the double-elimination tournament, each robot will play a match alone on the table.  This round will be used to rank the robots to seed the tournament bracket.  The ranking of the robots will be determined using rules 32 - 45 above, except as detailed here:

    • Points will be calculated separately for game objects in the North and South scoring areas.  If the robot starts in the South position, its score will be the number of points due to game objects in the North scoring area, less the number of points due to game objects in the South scoring area (and vice-versa if the robot starts in the North position).

    • The ranking of the robots will be determined by applying rules 41a to 41k in order, with the concept of "winning" replaced by "higher ranking".  If two or more robots are still ranked equal, the final ranking will be decided by one member of each of the teams involved playing a round of Rock, Paper, Scissors.

    • If a robot forfeits its match in the ranking round, it will be ranked below all the robots that did not forfeit their matches.

Extra Rules

Any rules added or changed after 12 February 2015 will be placed in this section.

Appendix A  -  Tournament

The diagram below shows an example of a double-elimination tournament for 21 teams.  The details of the RoboRugby 2015 tournament will be provided later.  To save time in the auditorium, some of the early matches may be played in the laboratory, before the main part of the competition.

The match numbers are shown in blue on the diagram.  M1 is the first match played, M2 is the second match played and so on.  The numbers in black beside the team names indicate the ranking order of the teams.  For example, the robots ranked 16th and 17th in the ranking round play in match M1.  In each match, the upper robot in the diagram will start on the North side of the table.

The lines show the progress of the winner of each match.  The text in brackets shows the lettered position in the lower part of the diagram where the loser will play.  For example, the robot that loses match M1 will play again as robot S in match M19.  A robot that loses a match in the lower part of the diagram is eliminated.

Match M41 will only be played if the robot that loses match M40 has not lost any previous match.  This ensures that no robot will be eliminated unless it loses two matches.

Last updated 23 January 2015.


HOME   |   SESSIONS   |   KIT   |   COMPETITION   |   NEWS   |   FAQ   |   LINKS
Copyright 2015, UCD School of Electrical, Electronic and Communications Engineering.  Contact e-mail address