Student Design Competition Teams

Student Design Competition Teams ASME Group

Official 2017 Q&A Responses

Q&A for 2017 ASME SDC

The Robot Pentathlon

Official Q&A Responses as of January 26, 2017

Official responses to questions supersede original competition statements as well as any earlier question responses where there is contradiction.  The questions are numbered sequentially as responded to, Answer 1 is the earliest response.

Information about the ASME E-Fests which will host regional SDCs can be found at:

Question 94: Can a manual adjustment be made for the hitting event? Such as relocating a pin so that a swinging arm can be lowered into position.

Answer 94: Yes, a pin may be repositioned to adjust the configuration of the device as long as it conforms with previously stated rules.  However, this manual adjustment must be made during the 1 minute setup period immediately prior to the event.

Question 93: Is shifting [a] chain to another gear manually and rotating part of the robot from one to another position during the 1 [minute] acceptable?

Answer 93: Yes, as long as the adjustment adheres to all of the stated rules.

Updated December 19, 2016

Question 92: Is there an extra registration fee for the SDC or is only the standard individual registration fee required?

Answer 92: See Question 91.

Question 91: Are faculty advisors from the team's parent university required for registration or just recommended?

Answer 91: Please refer to the contact information provided on the E-Fests web-site:

Question 90: Will multiple teams from a single university be allowed to register for the SDC at E-Fest East?

Answer 90: Yes.

Question 89: What is the explicit definition of a "hit" for the Hit event? Even a standard impact of a golf club on a golf ball is not purely instantaneous, there is deformation and a period of sustained contact with the club. Where is the line on that?

Answer 89: In a standard game of golf, contact between the golf club and the golf ball lasts for approximately 0.5 milliseconds.  Devices are expected to perform comparably for Event 5 - The Hit.  For the Hit Event the golf ball rests on the ground or tee and only touches your device on impact.  For the Throw Event you may place the tennis ball within your device.

Question 88: In a previous Q&A answers, it has been mentioned that manual adjustments may not add energy to the system and that manual adjustments cannot be used to increase the robot's size or configuration from how it leaves the 50cm^3 box. So would a manual adjustment of, say, flipping a switch or moving a slider be allowed if it is not adding potential energy to the robot/system?

Answer 88: Flipping a switch or moving a slider that does not add energy to the system or increase the robot’s size is permitted.

Updated November 30, 2016

Question 87: During [setup] time before the Lift, would we be able place our perfectly rectangular weight on top of the robot and fasten it down with straps?

Answer 87: No. The weight may be placed onto the device by a team member but no mechanisms may be used to attach or otherwise fasten the weight to the device.

Question 86: If we use a "tool" to place the weight on top of our robot (I'm thinking of something similar to a medical stretcher type device), will this be required to fit in the sizing box with the robot for inspection?

Answer 86: At the start of each event, teams will only be permitted to bring their sizing box to the starting area and then may only use permitted items which fit within the sizing box as verified by the judges during device inspection.

Question 85: Can we adjust our robot in the form of engaging and disengaging a clutch during the 1 minute [setup] before each event?

Answer 85: Yes. This manner of adjustment of the device is permissible during the setup period.

Question 84: Can the remote control be a smart phone device connected via [bluetooth]?

Answer 84: Yes. A smart phone can be used to control the device. Like any other controller, it must fit into the sizing box with the device for device inspection.

Question 83: For the lift, the rules state that the weight can not be deformed at any time, presumably to prevent it being compressed when placed in the box. Would it be allowed to use a box / rigid container which could be opened to add or remove mass from the weight or would this be disallowed for deforming the weight?

Answer 83: No. The weight must be a solid piece of material. It is recommended that teams design and build multiple potential weights for the lift event so that they may identify the largest weight their device is able to lift and bring this weight to the competition.

Updated November 12, 2016

Question 82: Please define the term "Expansion" in terms of making adjustments to the robot.

Answer 82: Expansion of the device is any departure from the configuration of the device when it is removed from the sizing box.

Question 81: For the sprint portion, will the track be a level surface and/or will there by any incline?

Answer 81: The track will be a level surface.

Question 80: How do we sign up to compete in the competition?

Answer 80: See Question 53.

Question 79: Can a hole be drilled in the weight if it still a rectangular prism?

Answer 79: No.

Question 78: What are the dimensions allowed for the tee?

Answer 78: The “tee” in Event 5 may elevate the golf by no more than 0.2 cm (2 mm) above the ground.

Question 77: My university is interested in forming a group for the robotics pentathlon. I cannot, however, find any information on when/where to register for this competition. Could someone please help me out? Thank you.

Answer 77: See Question 53.

Question 76: At the start of the 1 minute setup time before each event, will all components (weight, tools, batteries, etc) have to be within the sizing box with the robot?

Answer 76: Yes.

Question 75: Can expansion during the sprint begin while the robot is still in the starting zone or must it cross the starting line before it is allowed to begin expansion?

Answer 75: See Question 5.

Question 74: Can the contact information for the North America East E-fest be posted so as to direct questions about specific dimensions of the room where the events will be held?

Answer 74: See Question 53.

Question 73: Will all of the following items be allowed to be removed from the robot during an event like the Climb and Sprint: extra batteries, weight to be used for the Lift, and tools? Is there anything else that may be removed?

Answer 73: All of these items must fit within the sizing box during device inspection but they do not need to be attached to the device during all events.

Question 72: Will the device be able to expand across the imaginary vertical planes extending upwards from the 1m x 1m starting box for the hit and throw?

Answer 72: The device may not touch the ground outside of the starting area. However, part of the device may extend outside of the starting area during the event.

Question 71: Will teams be allowed to place their devices in whatever orientation they desire (obviously within the starting zones) in all events?

Answer 71: Yes. When the device is removed from the sizing box during the setup time prior to an event, the team may position it in any orientation they choose as long as the device does not extend outside of the starting zone.

Question 70: Will the robot be allowed to cross the imaginary planes extending vertically on all sides of the steps and the starting area during the climb?

Answer 70: The part of the device may cross through the vertical planes which extend vertically from the sides of the step but if the entire device passes through this plane (i.e. falls off of the stairs) the device will receive a last place rank.

Question 69: A previous question states the golf ball must start outside the machine- is this correct? For that matter, are there any limitations besides distance from the ground that both the tennis ball and golf ball can be placed?

Answer 69: The golf ball must be hit from a position elevated by no more than 0.2 cm (2 mm) above the ground. See Question 23.

Question 68: Can we have some feet lower to the ground before putting the weight on the robot?

Answer 68: No. See Question 7.

Question 67: The golf ball needs to start outside the machine. Can the machine take the golf ball and place it within the machine on its own power? Also, what constitutes a hitting action?

Answer 67: No. See Question 23.

Question 66: Is the max tee height actually .2cm? Just making sure it's not a typo as it seems rather small.

Answer 66: The golf ball in Event 5: The Hit can be elevated by no more than 0.2 cm (2 mm) above the ground.

Question 65: Can teams have a threaded hole in the top of their weight for an eye-bolt to make it easier to load and unload the [weight] (the eye-bolt can be removed after the weight is placed)?

Answer 65: No. See Question 19.

Question 64: As long as it is clear that the robot does not gain any advantage, can the weight have some small ridges (for example, when putting two steel blocks together, unless they are precision machined, they will have some small ridges where they placed together)?

Answer 64: No. In accordance with Event 2 Rule 2-4, the weight must be in the shape of a regular rectangular prism, must have smooth sides, and cannot fold or be deformed, which includes being disassembled into pieces.

Question 63: For throw, can any springs used be compressed by hand while the ball is being loaded?

Answer 63: If the spring is compressed prior to the start of the event, then during the time limit of the event, the spring must be returned to the initial compressed position. Failure to do so will result in a last place ranking.

Question 62: What would be the height for the climbing stairs setup like the first set being 8 cm, second set being 15 cm and 8 cm?

Answer 62: Each step will have a height of between 8 cm and 15 cm. That is, the device will need to climb up a height of 8-15 cm for each of the three steps.

Question 61: Is there a limit to the number of controllers each team can use to operate their robot?

Answer 61: No, but all controllers must be able to fit within the 50 cm x 50 cm x 50 cm sizing box with the device and all other components for device inspection.

Question 60: For the Hit, could the ball be allowed to be placed on a net/sling that was then moved during the hit itself?

Answer 60: No. The golf ball must either be placed on the ground or can be placed onto a “tee” which elevates the bottom of the golf ball by no more than 0.2 cm (2 mm).

Question 59: Does the weight for the lift need to be within the 50cm cube at the beginning of the lift, or can the weight be placed on top of the robot (assuming the entire robot is within the 50cm cube to begin with)?

Answer 59: See Question 7

Question 58: For the lift, when placing the weight on the robot, can the weight be placed within a container attached to the robot? For the lift, can the regular rectangular prism be placed onto a grip attached to the robot?

Answer 58: The device must be equipped with the necessary gripper/container/lifting mechanism to complete the lifting task. These components are part of the device and cannot be removed for other events.

Question 57: If potential energy is used for robot setup within the one minute of event time, does it need to be restored within that time?

Answer 57: Yes. See Question 56.

Question 56: Does potential energy need to be restored during the one minute event time?

Answer 56: Yes. See Question 30.

Question 55: For the Climb, the rules state the horizontal landing surfaces may or may not be smooth- does this mean projections (bumps, etc) on the surface may be added (or is this just accounting for the various surface roughnesses of various types of plywood)?

Answer 55: The roughness of these surfaces may vary, such as the surface of plywood, but no additional features will be added to increase roughness. The surface may be painted or otherwise treated. Prepare for a variety of surfaces.

Question 54: Is flying permitted if a part of the robot remains grounded? What about if the flying component remains rigidly attached to the robot?

Answer 54: No. Per general rule 9, flying devices of any kind are not permitted.

Question 53: Do we know where the North America West SDC will be held and how do we go about registering to participate?

Answer 53: The regional student design competition events will be held at the new ASME E-Fests. For information about the E-Fests go to:
North America East:
North America West:

Updated October 17, 2016

Question 52: What limitation for what teams can do to their robot during the setup times?

Answer 52: See Question 12.

Question 51: For the Lift, will the 2 attempts each have a one minute limit? Or must both attempts be made within the one minute time limit?

Answer 51: Each of the two attempts in Event 2 will be given a separate one minute time period to be completed.

Question 50: Will hitting the opposite wall with the golf ball during the Hit be given a first place score (just like the Throw according to Answer 13) or does the golf ball have to hit the floor in order to receive a score?

Answer 50: If the golf ball hits the far wall in Event 5, the total distance for the Event will be calculated as the distance to the wall minus the perpendicular distance from the measuring tape to the location of first contact of the golf ball. If multiple golf balls hit the far wall, the golf ball which hits the wall closest to the line of the measuring tape will earn the team a 1st place standing.

Question 49: Will the steps for the Climb be all in a line or can there be a right turn?

Answer 49: The steps used for Event 4 - The Climb will be arranged in a straight line without any turns.

Question 48: Is there a time limit for the device to hit/throw the ball once set up? For example, if compressed air is used and it take a few minutes to charge a holding tank?

Answer 48: According to Event 3, Rule 2, “Teams will have a maximum time of one minute to  complete the throw.” Teams will also be permitted a maximum time of one minute to complete the hit for Event 5.

Question 47: Can the same motion that hits the golf ball be used to throw the tennis ball?

Answer 47: For Event 3 - The Throw, the ball is to be placed onto the device. For Event 5 - The Hit, the ball is to be placed onto the ground or it may be elevated at most 0.2 cm above the ground. This may require separate strategies for the two events.

Question 46: Will the robot be able to draw from multiple power sources (i.e. batteries)? Or may it use only one source?

Answer 46: See Question 1.

Question 45: For clarification on Question #25, if the weight is not a spare battery, and simply a weight for event #2, The Lift, does it have to stay on the robot for the other events?

Answer 45: The weight used for Event 2 does not need to be carried by or attached to the device during the other four Events.

Question 44: Where do [I] register for sdc competition?

Answer 44: Information about the ASME E-Fests, which will be hosting the regional Student Design Competitions, can be found at

Question 43: Must the weight for the lift truly be in the shape of a rectangular prism, or could standard (cylindrical) lifting weights be used? Our team believes that the rectangular constraint adds unnecessary manufacturing costs, especially for situations where high lift masses are intended to be used while adding little benefit.

Answer 43: See Question 19.

Question 42: For the lift and/or throw, can the robot be placed onto a support structure during the preparation stage, if the support structure fits into the bounding box originally?

Answer 42: Only the device is permitted to be used for each of the five Events. The device may be designed to incorporate various capabilities but no supplemental structures are permitted.

Question 41: Does the weight have to fit within the sizing box at the same time as the Robot? Or can our weight just not be bigger than a 50x50x50cm cube?

Answer 41: See Question 14.

Updated September 26, 2016

Question 40: Does the tennis ball need to be thrown, or may it be launched from a cannon like device. For example, spring loaded or pressurized air.

Answer 40: Each team may choose how the tennis ball is projected for Event 3 as long as General Rule 5 is satisfied (See Question 30).

Question 39: For the lift: Does the weight need to be picked up from the ground or will it be placed on the robot? If picked up from the ground, how far away will the weight be placed from the robot.

Answer 39: See Question 7

Question 38: can we use multiple batteries and multiple control methods for robot

Answer 38: See Question 1 regarding batteries. The controller or controllers use for the device must fit within the 50cm x 50cm x 50cm sizing box with the device during the device inspection.

Question 37: Can we use pneumatics?

Answer 37: See Question 30.

Question 36: Is the Golf ball going to be put in a tee or on the ground?

Answer 36: The golf ball can be placed no higher than 0.2 cm off of the ground. If a team chooses not to place the ball on the ground, they are responsible for providing their own tool for raising the golf ball by no more than 0.2 cm.

Question 35: Can you please post the 2017 SDC rule book here...

Answer 35: The Competition Rules for 2017 competition are located here:

Question 34: What specific radio links can we use? (i.e. bluetooth, wifi, r/c,etc.)

Answer 34: Each team is free to choose their own communication method for their controller but all related components must fit within the sizing box during device inspection. Note: there is no guarantee that a WiFi network will be available at the competition site.

Question 33: In the weight lifting event, does the robot have to pick up and lift the weight, or can we place the weight on the robot like with the tennis ball event?

Answer 33: See Question 7.

Question 32: Can you have two identical robots compete in the competition, in case one breaks, and swap out for the other robot?

Answer 32: No, each team is only allowed one device.

Question 31: Do the stairs have a solid front face on the vertical area?

Answer 31: Yes. The stairs will be designed with risers.

Question 30: Can we use air compression? Does "shooting" the tennis ball count as throwing the tennis ball?

Answer 30: Compressed air is permitted as long as General Rule 5 is satisfied. The energy of the compressed air must be the same at the end of the event as at the start. The device design must include the necessary features (e.g. pressure gauge) so that the judges can see that this Rule is being satisfied.

Question 29: Can more than four people be on the design team, but only up to four people can be at the competition? Or can our team always only be up to 4 members. If so, can our university have more than one team competing?

Answer 29: There is no restriction on the number of members on a team. There is no restriction on the number of teams from a single university.

Question 28: Does the weight the team uses need to be solid? Does it need to be a homogeneous material? Are teams allowed to have a rectangular weight that is hollow and can it contain other materials inside of it?

Answer 28: See Question 19.

Question 27: During the 1 minute setup is the team allowed to move components around on the robot (example: switch out a lifting arm for a hitting appendage)? Assuming all components would be installed somewhere on the robot for all the events and not left in the box.

Answer 27: See Question 12.

Question 26: For The Hit, does it have to be instantaneous contact?

Answer 26: See Question 23.

Question 25: Is the weight used for The Lift, considered part of the robot or is it allowed to be removed for events other than the lift and kept in the box?

Answer 25: See Question 20

Question 24: For the competition, are we allowed replacement parts? If so, do they have to be within the box and/or on the robot at all times?

Answer 24: The device, batteries, weight for Event 2, and all tools and extra components that will be used for the five events must fit inside the 50cm x 50cm x 50cm sizing box during the device inspection.

Question 23: For The Hit, is the bot allowed to make contact with the ball more than one time within the attempt?

Answer 23: No, as in the actual game of golf, the ball may be struck only once. The golf ball must be no more than 0.2 cm from the ground when it is hit. The measurement for the score will be taken from the location where the golf ball first touches the ground.

Question 22: Can the weight be a circular weight that we place in a rectangular box?

Answer 22: See Question 19.

Question 21: From the starting configuration for the golf ball (on the ground or .2cm off the ground), can the golf ball be picked up and hit from on top the robot?

Answer 21: No. The golf ball can be no higher than 0.2 cm off of the ground when it is hit.

Question 20: May we use our spare battery as the weight, provided it is a rectangular prism?

Answer 20: A spare battery that is not being used to power the device for the Event can serve that purpose.

Question 19: Would a lead brick be permitted as the weight?

Answer 19: In accordance with Event 2 - Rules 2-4, the weight must be in the shape of a regular rectangular prism, must fit in the sizing box during device inspection without being deformed, and must have smooth sides. The composition of the weight is left to the discretion of the teams.

Question 18: Just a small clarification about Q&A #8- can the device sprint through the starting box line at full speed on the return trip or does it need to stop in the 1m x 1m starting square?

Answer 18: The time measurement for scoring Event 1 will be taken when the entire device has passed back over the starting line. No penalties will be incurred If the device continues moving and does not stop after crossing back over the starting line.

Question 17: During the setup for the Throw, how much can we interact with the robot? Specifically, would we be able to open a sling (like on a trebuchet) and place the tennis ball in position, or is it more like last year where you couldn't touch the device at all? I am assuming the device must expand under its own power and no energy can be added to the device (eg. compressing a spring).

Answer 17: Teams may make manual adjustments to their device during setup, including placing the tennis ball in the device, but the device must complete each of the events under its own power. See Question 12.

Question 16: Will there be a "safe zone" implemented for the throw? Are there any safety precautions that could disqualify a robot (just thinking about a tennis ball getting spun around a in a sling at high velocity...)?

Answer 16: Teams will be responsible for ensuring the safe operation of their device. Judges will assess the devices during device inspection and teams must be able to identify all potential safety concerns and discuss how they have been addressed. Devices deemed unsafe by the judges will not be allowed to throw or hit the balls.

Question 15: Does the weight have to be lowered after the measurement is taken? Or can team members grab the weight off when it is fully raised?

Answer 15: For Event 2, the device is responsible for lifting the weight and holding it stationary for a count of 3. The device is not required to lower the weight after the measurement is made.

Question 14: Just to clarify rule 3 for the lift, does the weight have to fit inside the sizing box WITH the robot (at the same time), or will each be placed in the sizing box separately?

Answer 14: The weight must fit inside the sizing box with the device during device inspection.

Question 13: Will the Hit and Throw be held outdoors (please say yes)? If not how will our score be measured if we hit the wall on the opposite side of the room?

Answer 13: All of the events will be conducted in designated spaces within appropriately sized rooms. Large rooms will be used to give teams plenty of space for each event. In the unlikely case that a projectile strikes a wall opposite the starting area, the distance to the wall will be used for the score and teams will be tied for 1st place for the event if multiple teams hit the wall.

Question 12: During the 1 minute of setup time, are we permitted to make manual adjustments to the robot, including changes that make the robot larger than its initial 50x50x50 size, so long as all parts are stored in the box?

Answer 12: Team members may make adjustments to their device during the setup time for each event, but the expansions to the device must be done by the device and after the start (see questions 5 and 7). Also, components and tools used to make these adjustments must fit into the sizing box during device inspection.

Question 11: Are we allowed to hit the golf ball such that it goes up a ramp that is part of the robot?

Answer 11: In accordance with Event 5 - Rule 2, the golf ball can either initially be positioned on the ground or elevated no more than 0.2 cm above the ground. As long as these requirements are satisfied, the manner by which the robot hits the ball is left to the discretion of team. Positioning a ramp, which is part of the robot, in front of the ball would be acceptable.

Question 10: For the sprint, does the entire robot need to cross the start line before touching the wall? Edit: In other words, is there any reason the robot cannot have a second car tethered to it which drives to the wall and back, such that the entire device stays attached at all times?

Answer 10: The entire robot must leave the starting area. See Question 5.

Question 9: Does the robot need to remain in one piece at all times?

Answer 9: Yes. Refer to Question 3.

Updated September 12, 2016

Question 8:  During the sprint if a robot touches the outside edge and remains touching it for some distance such as to the end wall, does that only count as one single time penalty?

Answer 8: Yes, judges will watch closely to count this as one touch.  However if the device leaves the sprint lane completely this yields a last place score, and if the device touches the outside edge, returns within the sprint lane and then retouches the outside edge this incurs an additional time penalty.

Question 7:  Does the rectangular weight in The Lift have to start on the ground, or will we be able to set it on top of our robot?

Answer 7: Teams will be allowed to place the weight on their robot.  The robot may not be expanded from the configuration it is in when stored in the sizing box until after the weight is placed and the judges tell the team to start their lift attempt.

Question 6:  Will the 8cm wall during the sprint be fixed to the ground? What amount of force will we be able to exert on the wall when touching it?

Answer 6:  It will be either attached to the floor or secured by the judges.  Judges will make sure that any impact force from the device will not move the wall.

Question 5:  Is the robot allowed to expand during the sprint? If so, what are the rules for expansion?

Answer 5:  Yes.  It must be removed from the sizing box and placed on the starting line without expanding.  At the judge’s start, a device may expand and move under its own power as long as it has completely departed the starting area, then touched the wall and completely returned to within the starting area.  To complete the attempt the entire device must return to its original configuration.

Question 4:  Assuming there are 20 teams competing and 5 teams fall off during the climb (thereby earning "last place"), is "last place" 20th or 16th?

Answer 4:  If 15 of 20 total teams score points, and 5 teams do not, those 5 teams will all earn 16th place scores.  Similarly if two teams tie for 5th place they will both get 5th place scores and the next device will get 7th place.

Question 3:  Can parts of the robot be detached and left in the box for certain events, so long as we can perform the detachment during the 1min setup time?

Answer 3: No.  The device must remain together for all events, as a human decathlete or heptathlete does.

Question 2:  For the events that require us to remain in a 1x1m square, does this mean that we cannot touch the floor outside of the square (like last year) or that we cannot have any part of the robot hang over the square either?

Answer 2:  Judges will only be checking that devices do not touch the floor outside the taped area.  For the Climb event devices must not touch the steps as well before the attempt starts.

Question 1:  General Rule #6 states rules for replacing batteries between events, mounting to the device, and batteries fitting in the sizing box.  Does this imply that all batteries we intend to use during the competition need to be inside the box throughout the entire competition, or just that any of the batteries we use must be able to fit in the sizing box after we replace them?  Also, does this mean we will not have the opportunity to recharge batteries in between events?

Answer 1:  During prejudging, teams should show the judges all batteries they intend to use during the five events (some involving two attempts).  All batteries must fit within the sizing box, one of which will be installed on the device, when the team shows their entire device fits within the sizing box.  If a team elects to replace the battery/batteries initially mounted on the device, they will do so with the identical batteries that have been placed in the sizing box.  This will take place during the one-minute for setup preceding each event (General Rule #3). All batteries should be fully charged before the devices are impounded, teams will not have the opportunity to recharge any batteries between events.

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