Breakaway

This year’s game for the FIRST Robotics Competition more closely resembles traditional views of a game. With an appearance resembling the wildly popular sport soccer, known worldwide as football, FIRST has shed its science centric façade in favor of a game more closely focused on the entertainment possibilities of robotics.

The 2010 game, called “Breakaway”, has a field divided up into three sections, separated by bumps. The far sides of the field contain two goals each, two for each alliance. The game objective is to score soccer balls by using the robots to kick them into the goals of the opposing alliance. Robots may also block their own goals to prevent opposing bots from scoring. In the final twenty seconds of the match, the robots may attempt to hang on their tower in the center of the field in order to gain additional points. Robots who instead hang off of other robots receive an additional point.

When a ball is scored on a goal, players have a limited amount of time to get the ball back into play. A ball must be returned to play via a specific method. First, the human player standing behind the goal must pick up the scored ball. Then, they must pass it to the human player standing between the two goals. Finally, the central player will load the ball into a three pronged stick, called a trident, and insert the ball into a rack overhanging the field, called the ball return. The ball return is angled so that the ball will roll to the center and then drop into the middle section of the field, ready to be scored again. The speed with which players are capable of performing this cycle will likely be just as crucial as the performance of the robot.