Mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, machining, vision systems, and computer science
Like the giant walking humanoids of Japanese Manga cartoon, MechWarfare is a contest of humanoid robots fighting in a scaled down cityscape. The contest envisions that an actual human would be driving the four-story scale "vertical tank" in a urban combat setting. Robots are human controlled, but the operator must use a camera mounted on the robot for vision - no direct viewing of the field by operators is allowed. Robots have impact sensors to detect how often they've been shot.
All Mechs are subject to final approval by an official before competing, and may be rejected if considered unsafe for human bystanders or not keeping in the spirit of the event. To elaborate, these rules here are intended to keep things balanced and fair, while I'm sure there are little loopholes that can be found for most things, have a sense of honor and respect for your opponents, and don't try to 'gimmick' your way to a win.
Mech Warfare is a robotics competition. Our goal is to create a real-life robotic combat competition that mirror the scenarios found in sci-fi universes such as Battletech, Warhammer 40k and Armored Core. Competitors will build 1/24 scale armed robots which they will pilot through a wireless first-person POV system.
Section I - Leagues of Play
Each league of competition will have it's own competition bracket. There are two leagues of competition:
The Airsoft Classic league is open to all walking robots with 4 or less legs.
The Hardcore league is open to all walking robots with 6 or less legs.
Section II - Mech Construction
All competitors are subject to final approval by Mech Warfare officials. Each competitor must be presented to an official for a Safety and Technical Inspection before competing, and must be re-inspected after any major alterations. A Mech may be rejected from competing if it is deemed to be unsafe for human bystanders or not in the spirit of the event. All Mechs should be designed within the spirit of the game. Do not try to 'gimmick' yourself to a win. If you have a question about a particular part of your robot, ask the event organizers beforehand.
Mechs are to be true walking robots. Legs must be servo/actuator driven. No cam-driven, wheeled, or treaded configurations.
Mechs may have up to 4 legs.
Average mech size is expected to be between 8" and 18" tall. No robot may be taller than 36".
Mechs may be remotely-operated or autonomous.
Pilots may only view the match through their first person POV camera mounted on their bot, further:
Pilots are not allowed to view the arena or match directly. Multiple pilots are allowed.
Cameras should be mounted roughly in the center of the mass of the robot, where the 'cockpit' would be. The intention is to simulate piloting the Mech, not having cameras on your guns mounted to extensions so you can fire around corners without fear of being shot. This would fall under the 'Gimmick Clause'.
Wireless IP Cameras are highly recommended and the preferred and supported method of video feed. Non-wifi cameras do not work well in the high RF interference environment of Robogames. If you choose to use an analog RF camera and it is determined, by an Event Organizer, to cause too much interference with other competitors' Wifi cameras, you will be disqualified. This prevents a builder from bringing an extremely high gain transmitter and shutting other competitors out, where such dangers do not exist with standard Wifi cameras. Cameras will have to be 802.11b or 802.11g, 802.11N networks are spread spectrum by nature and consume a large amount of the 2.4ghz band.
Multiple cameras are allowed, however all cameras on a robot must connect through a single wireless access point, and share the same channel.
An official, professional, dual Wifi Access Point will be provided for competitor use. This is not a mandatory requirement however it is recommended. Usage of this access point depends upon registration with Event Organizers prior to the event, where information such as SSID, MAC Address of the Wifi Camera, and static IP settings are provided.
Spectators will be able to view the full arena and match, however they cannot provide hints, tips or assistance to pilots.
Mechs should not separate, or leave pieces of themselves behind, especially beacons or debris that would inhibit other competitors.
Mechs should not intentionally cause damage to the arena. Event Organizers will disqualify any mech intentionally causing damage to the arena. Unintentional damage is fine, but this is not a destruction derby.
Note that weight restrictions have been removed. Once participant density allows, separate lightweight (amateur) and heavyweight (professional) classes will be formed.
Section III - Weapons Systems
There are two separate classes of weapons rules: Airsoft or Hardcore. Mechs may be outfitted to run either class, however, only guns legal for the current match may be loaded and active.
The Airsoft weapons class allows the use of Nerf weapons and electric Airsoft guns. Guns are to use standard Airsoft 6mm plastic BB ammo. While there is no hard limit on your gun's muzzle velocity, it must be low enough so as not to break the mesh walls of the arena. When outside the competition arena, all guns must have a physical barrel lock in place which prevents BBs from being fired.
The Hardcore weapons class will be offered based on availability of a fully enclosed combat cage. The Hardcore weapons class allows use of much more powerful weapons such as CO2 powered rifles, micro class rockets, and flamethrowers. When outside the competition arena, all weapons must have a physical lock out that prevents inadvertant activation.
In all weapons classes, any mech that is capable of shooting without explicit human input must have a verified remote kill switch and a visual indicator that they are "armed". We will not have Skynet go live on our watch.
In all weapons classes, weapons designed to interfere in any way with an opponent's camera or wireless control are strictly forbidden. Ultra-bright lasers (green, blue, etc) are prohibited. All lasers must have an off switch or cover when they are outside of the arena.
Section IV - Arena
The airsoft arena is approximately 15'x15'. The hardcore arena is 8'x8'.
The walls of the arena will be non-transparent to at least a height of 24".
Buildings, averaging two feet tall, will be provided for cover. Building layout will be consistent throughout the event for ranked matches, however layout may not be finalized until the event. Exhibition matches may have varied building layouts at coordinators discretion.
No 'street' will be less than 36" wide.
All sizes are approximate. Your mech must be able to deal with any small changes in these dimensions.
Section V - Qualification
All competitors must complete a qualification trial during Friday's regular hours (typically 12-7PM). Only competitors that have completed a qualification trial will be placed in the competition bracket.
A qualification round consists of the following: starting in the corner of the arena, the competitor must drive the robot forward approximately 5-6 ft to the center street, and make a turn (not torso rotation) in order to fire upon a standard target plate which will be mounted 8"-12" above the ground, in the center of the arena. The competitor must complete this round within 5 minutes. Bipeds may not fall more than 3 times in the course of this qualification round. If you fail to complete a qualification round, you may have 2 additional attempts to complete. Each total qualification attempt cannot exceed 15 minutes of total time.
The qualification trial will run under the same technical requirements as regular matches: in particular, pilots cannot view the arena directly and may not be assisted by spectators. This trial is intended to show that your mech can walk and that your camera and guns work.
The qualification process may be attempted an unlimited number of times, however, competitors who have already attempted must wait on the end of the longest line.
Section VI - Match Rules
A match consists of two mechs facing off in an arena, trying to decimate one another's Hit Points (HP). The winner is the mech with the most HP left at the end of a match. The Scoring system consists of target plates and a transponder unit which wirelessly relays information back to a base station.
Bracket matches will be scheduled throughout the day on Saturday and Sunday. There will be a bulletin board denoting when matches are to be held. The event organizers will give 5 minute and 1 minute warnings. If your mech is not ready for a match, it will forfeit that match. Builders will be give one 2-minute extension to use throughout the weekend.
Each Mech will start a match with 20 hit points (HP), bipeds will recieve a 15% bonus in HP for 23 HP total. Remaining HP will be reduced as the transponder unit registers hits, or when penalty hits are assessed. Starting HP may be raised, if at the end of any day the average match time, not including forfeited matches, is less than 8 minutes.
Mechs will start in opposite corners of the arena. The corners will be masked off with 3'x3' squares taped on the floor, a mech will start in the center of the square. All of a mech's feet must fully cross the corner tape before it can score a hit on it's opponent.
Competitors reduce an opponent's HP by scoring hits on an opponent's target plates
The scoring system will not score more than 1 hit per second, regardless of how often it is hit. This is determined by the software running on the Transponder board.
A collision or knockover will score as a hit if the scoring transponder detects it. If your mech is unable to right itself, the match will be paused while the mech is assisted, and penalized a hit point of damage if the transponder did not detect the fall. The clock will not stop during any assistance.
If a target plate, properly mounted according to Section VII.a.3, should fall off of a robot, the plate will be re-attached, and the mech will be assessed one hit point.
If a mech does not move (defined by moving continuously for at least one body length) for 20 seconds, it will be assessed 1 penalty hit point. If a mech does not move for 60 seconds, it will be determined 'disabled' and forfeit the match. Panning/tilting of turrets, or firing blindly at non-targets, does not count as movement. This rule is intended to encourage mobility and prevent American Civil War Era fighting strategies. However, if a Mech is engaged in active combat (defined by actively firing upon or exchanging fire with an oppoonent), this rule does not apply.
A match ends when either one of the mech's has it's HP reduced to 0, or when the match clock runs past the 12 minute limit. The mech with the higher HP at the match's end wins.
Section VII - Scoring Transponders
The scoring transponders and target plates are distributed by the Mech Warfare organizers, overall cost to participants should be less than $100 per entry.
Target plate specifications:
Full sized target plates are 3.5"x3.5", with an active area of 3"x3", weighing approximately 40g, and must be purchased from the event organizers. Half-size plates are 1.75"x3.5". The plates should not be altered, other than to apply velcro or similar to the back for attachment to the mech. You may color your target panels so long as the paint product does not interfere with sensitivity of the sensors. Due to technological constraints, plate design may change from time to time, however event organizers will strive to be consistent from year to year with the plate design.
Quadrupeds must carry 4 full-sized plates, one on each side of the body. Bipeds must carry a full front and rear plate, as well as half size plates on each side of their body or arms (depending upon which provides an unobstructed view). All walkers with more than 4 legs, will carry four full size target plates. Any mech may replace the front full-size plate with 2 half-size plates, allowing a slot for the camera to protrude, however, the half-plates must not be separated by more than 1".
Target plates must be reasonably mounted on a mech, with their entire face located between 2" and 22" off the ground, and not obscured by any limbs. Plates should be mounted on a flat, vertical surface, using two strips of velcro, so that the target plate is perpendicular to the ground. Use common sense when choosing a mounting location, and keep in mind the spirit of the game. If you are firing on an opponent, they should be capable of hitting your scoring plates. For instance, if a biped has it's camera and guns on a turret, the target plates must also be on the turret. Every effort should be made to have all target plates on a mech in the same vertical plane. If a mechanical design exists that does not allow for this, full plates can have no more than 1" of vertical separation. This cannot be used to specifically give a Mech a defensive advantage.
In order to allow autonomous bots, and those using visual tracking, competitors may bring a visual fiducial of any color which may be applied to an opponent's target plates using tape of any color. Fiducials should be no bigger than 3"x3". As these fiducials may become damaged during use, it is suggested to bring a decent quantity of them with you.
Scoring transponder unit specifications:
Transponders are approximately 2.4"x2.4" weighing approximately 25g.
The unit requires a power connection capable of providing 7-16VDC at up to 200mA.
The unit will send out a 200ms high pulse each time it reports a hit. This can be tied into your robot to allow your control solution to register hits.
The unit will be programmed with the appropriate firmware and ID information when distributed. The Event Organizers reserve the right to require firmware upgrades at the competition, so be sure that the In-System Programing header on the transponder is easily accessible.
Scoring displays will be set up in locations visible to both competitors and spectators.
Section VIII - Record of Changes
June 22, 2009 - Document created from 2009 rule set
June 23, 2009 - Slight changes, notes added. Removed weight limit (we will have weight classes some day).
July 29, 2009 - Final highlighting changes before release to general public.