In The Zone
In The Zone is the 2017/18 VEX Robotics Competition Game. It is played on a 12'x12' square field configured as seen below. Two Alliances – one “red” and one “blue” – composed of two teams each, compete in matches consisting of a fifteen second autonomous period followed by one minute and forty-five seconds of driver-controlled play.
The object of the game is to attain a higher score than the opposing Alliance by Stacking Cones on Goals, by Scoring Mobile Goals in Goal Zones, by having the Highest Stacks, and Parking Robots.
There are eighty Cones that can be Stacked on ten Goals [5 per Alliance] during a Match. Some begin in designated locations on the field, while others are available to be entered into the field by the teams during the Match.
Each Robot must start the match smaller than 18″x18″x18″ and begins a match touching their coloured Alliance Starting Bar. Each Alliance has three Zones in which they can place their Mobile Goals. Alliances also earn points for Stacking Cones on Goals, Scoring Mobile Goals in Goal Zones, having the Highest Stacks, and by Parking Robots on the coloured tiles. A bonus is awarded to the Alliance that has the most total points at the end of the Autonomous Period.
Download the full Game Manual here
Experts view - Chris Calver, Education Manager at Rapid and VEX Robotics Competition referee gives his opinion on the 2017/18 challenge.
"It looks like a cracker! 'In The Zone' has a hint of 'Skyrise' and dash of 'Round Up' (for those that remember that far back!).
The first thing you notice is we are back to an open field. This means that unlike 'Starstruck' where the two Alliances were kept apart by the fence that divided the field, all four robots for 'In The Zone' are working in the same space. I have to say, I am a massive fan of the open field style games and whilst they are not always the easiest to referee, they do make for some seriously exciting games.
The aim of the game is simple. Collect the cones and stack them either on the high goal that is fixed to the floor or in one of the low, mobile goals. These movable goals can then be placed into the various scoring zones for more points. There are also bonuses for the team with the highest stack and for parking your robots on the coloured tiles at the end of the match ... there are so many ways to score. There are also a lot of objects - 80 Cones, 8 movable goals and 2 fixed goals. The cones themselves are an interesting object - they have plenty of ways to grasp them and they are not particularly heavy, less than half the weight of a Star from 'Starstruck'.
There are a few interesting rules - we are back to 10 points for the Autonomous Bonus so great news for the programmers out there. Robots can only "possess" one cone at a time so you'll need to head back and forth to the goals a lot. However, the movable goals can be moved no matter how many Cones they have stacked on them. Teams can not descore their oppositions stacks, so once these cones are scored, they are scored. Robot expansion is also an interesting one this year.
The starting dimensions are the same ones we all know and love, the now legendary 18" cube. For 'In The Zone', whilst robots can expand infinitely upwards (Z axis), they can only expand to 48" in the X and Y axis which is approximately 1/3 of the field width. This means no wallbots and no long-leaded tetherbots either. There are so many strengths a robot needs but as with every year, the teams designs will almost certainly be far more creative than my initial thoughts!’
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