General Rules for the BEAM Robot Game

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NOTE: The material on this page has been derived from the original General Rules Page that was part of the now defunct LANL BEAM site. An archived copy of that page can be found > HERE <

The rules of individual events can be found by going the Individual BEAM Game Events page of this Wiki and clicking on the heading for the particular event, the rules of which you are interested in reading.

Remember that the listed rules date back to the original LANL BEAM site, and may have changed considerably for current competitions.

These are the rules and guidelines for the International BEAM Robot Games. Although the spirit of these games stress few formal restrictions, these are some general guidelines which every robot designer should follow. If a design does not fit these parameters or may but you're not sure, please contact the organizers for a ruling. Consideration will be given to very innovative, famous, or imaginative designs. The BEAM Olympics is meant as a friendly meeting of mind and robo-critter with the public and the media. It is hoped that everyone will abide by this spirit.

Please note: - The human builder is the designer - The mechanical robot the competitor.



All robotic devices must be either entirely custom built or a heavily modified appliance or toy. No commercial, store bought or kit robots will be allowed without heavy physical modification (modified or improved software is not considered sufficient modification). "Heavy" defined as permanent structural and electronic additions that extend, replace, or enhance a functional aspect of a device (i.e.: replace batteries with solar engine, add functional robot arms, interface a unique touch/vision system, etc.). Any devices made from commercial construction kits (i.e.: Lego, Mecanno, etc.) must also feature obviously non-commercial, custom elements to indicate sufficient intent of innovation. Nonetheless, devices which are completely hand-crafted will receive bonus points in all competitions.

All robotic entries should be self-contained or have an option where they can execute behavior without human intervention. Tele-operated mechanisms are allowed only if it is obvious they have been designed around some BEAM competition guidelines, or are for some autonomous task-oriented purpose (i.e.: tele-operated moon rover with retrieval claw). Commercial radio controlled kit models will not be allowed unless they have undergone severe technical modifications as per the above. Devices which do not feature some autonomous ability are allowed, but will lose critical style points.

Any robotic entry may be disqualified if too large (i.e.: bigger than a standard upright refrigerator). The sole reason for this is that display space, access doors, and power are limited. Exceptions may be granted for exceptional, famous, or self-powered entries that can be piece wise assembled. Please contact the organizers for a ruling.

Any robotic competitor that is obviously of mass-produced, commercial manufacture and/or performs an obviously commercial task shall be disqualified as a competitor. We don't want this to be a blatant advertising opportunity for major corporations, that's what trade shows are for. Corporate research and design prototypes are the exception but they must be represented by their designer(s) at the competition, not by the corporation. However, robotics companies are encouraged to hand out cards, flyers, posters, samples, and device specifications as they wish.

If a robotic entry must use wall current, it can use only one plug at a nominal amperage (120 VAC, 3 Amps maximum drain). Any robot that uses a combustion process will be discouraged for safety reasons, and will not be allowed to run inside the competition auditorium.

BEAM competitions are designed to display robotic capabilities and skill, not brute force, so for the most part, no "violent" robotic competitors will be allowed. That is, no competitor may have a functionally destructive capacity (i.e.: drills, cutters, soldering iron, flame-thrower, chainsaw, etc.) although decorative or whimsical elements along this line are allowed (i.e.: water pistols, xenon flashes, etc.). Likewise, any robotic competitor that may damage the competition courses, other robot competitors, organizers, or audience will be disqualified if the destructive elements cannot be detached. Robotic competitors may interfere with each other during the course of simultaneous runs (where rules permit) so long as they do not violate the "no damage" rule.

Anybody who justly feels his/her device could be damaged by another entrant will not suffer penalties for not competing in that trial, and where possible, time trial races will be run separately. Likewise, designers who accept that their machines could suffer major damage will also be respected (i.e.: No-holds-barred Robosumo). BEAM Robotics and affiliates take no responsibility for damage incurred by or afflicted on robotic devices, persons, or reputations during the course of competition.

No robotic competitors can employ biological components (rats, chickens, lemon/potato batteries, etc.) except by special permission from the organizers. Even then, no devices will be allowed which harm biologics in any way. Likewise no robot can employ open caustic or explosive chemical substances in fluid, solid, or gas form.

Multitalented robotic competitors are encouraged, however such capabilities must be declared ahead of time on the registration form as part of the robot's behavior description. It is the owners responsibility to see that any multitalented entry can make it to all the relevant competition events at the Games.

Partially finished robotic competitors are allowed (even encouraged) to compete so long as there is some function they can exhibit to show what they may eventually be capable of. Indeed, the show is structured so that competitors should have plenty of time and help to advance their designs prior to competition time. As an idea center, if you have only a half-finished, twitching semi-bot, the Games have proven to be a great growth medium.

There are two main BEAM rules based upon conventional evolutionary eugenics:

Devices must move, eat, and survive by themselves.

Innovative cheating is allowed (even encouraged).

This does not mean that we endorse breaking any of the aforementioned guidelines or subsequent rulesets, but any fair innovations that successfully push the envelope of allowability will be appreciated and rewarded (mother nature allows cheating in her evolution, why shouldn't we allow it in ours?).

In other words, pop-up chainsaws are out. Pop-up custard pies are in.

Again, if you are in doubt as to the validity of your entry, please contact the organizers directly. Exceptions will be made for particularly imaginative entries, or any disturbing feature that can be proved disconnected prior to competing. To be helpful, the following definitions are provided:

[edit] Robot:

(noun) 1/: A multi-purpose mechanical manipulator capable of performing a sequence of physical tasks. 2/: An artificial, self-contained autonomous roving creature capable of mimicking some aspects of known biological organisms.

[edit] BEAM Robotics:

1/: A description of what aspects a roving robot creature could contain. BEAM is a triple acronym which stands for:

Biology, Electronics, Aesthetics, Mechanics;

Building, Evolution, Anarchy, Modularity; and

Biotechnology, Ethnology, Analogy, Morphology.

The message being that "Living Machines" require more to build and understand than just the standard practices of electronics, mechanics, and programming. 2/: A research and education organization dedicated to the promotion and construction of unorthodox, scientific robotics to improve the "genetic" stock of autonomous robots for real-world application.

Most of this document contains specific rules for those competitions that have at least one original BEAM competitor already tested and assembled. Photographs of some original BEAM devices are enclosed but are not meant to be considered as standards or templates. Please do not copy these designs, they are just examples. Besides, we've already seen our creature ideas. The point of these games is to steal... er... see yours.

Original BEAM creatures shall be considered "demo" machines and will not be formally awarded any prizes, although they will be registered as record holders in all events they may win. These devices will be on display and used as seconds or "odd-man" competitors in competitions where necessary.

[edit] Also See:

Individual BEAM Game Events Past BEAM Robot Games

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[edit] Also See:

Individual BEAM Game Events Past BEAM Robot Games
  • General Rules for the BEAM Robot Game

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