Detailed Look at FLL Challenge '08 Mat and Models

Update: pictures of two other models added (Power Plant and Trees). Also, someone commented that the yellow, future-looking, car might have to replace the red truck as one of the challenges. I also changed the picture of the Power Line model to show one possible position for it.

Some of the members of the FLL team I was on, Built On The Rock, have recently constsructed the models for this year's FLL challenge. It's fun to try to figure out what has to be done with each model. Below are pictures of the mat and models and some speculation on what the challenges are. The base. This year it's located at the center of the map on the south side (bottom). This is an interesting twist, since it puts the robot closer to a lot of the models when it starts. Also, as you can see in the picture, there are little colored dashes on the sides of the base. It seems they're for helping teams align their robots accurately - definitely a nice addition.This house and truck were nicely designed. The truck is not dual-locked down, so it seems like the robots will have to move it somewhere. I can't see any markings that show where, though. The house , is dual-locked down, but a "solar panel" on top is not attached to it (see picture below), so it seems like the robots will have to put the solar panel on the house. We'll probably see some interesting and unique solutions to this challenge, since there are many different ways to tackle it. This is the solar panel when it's off the house.This model pretty much has us stumped. It appears to be a future car, but we can't figure out where it's supposed to go or what the robots are supposed to do with it. It's pictured here in a parking lot... perhaps the robot has to deliver the car to it.One of the challenges with this model is clear - a lever has to be pulled to release three barrels. The other part has something to do with 8 other barrels. There's no markings on the map that show where they go, but I'm guessing they're probably the bonus objects.

The two-team challenge appears to be a model of a satellite. It looks like it might combine a race between two teams and cooperation as well. The first team to push their lever knocks down one of the solar panels, and makes a radar dish on top of the satelllite lean towards their side. When the other team presses their side, the other solar panel falls down. Mabey both teams get points if both solar panels are down, and the team whose side the radar dish points to gets a certain number of bonus points. See pictures below for demonstrations of the model being activated.

This model is titled "dam flood". The "flood" can be removed from the dam, but we aren't sure what needs to be done with it.
This is a model of some power lines. There are no marks for daul-locking or placing it, although as you can see in the picture, a section of a sidewalk lines up with the power line base perfectly, so it might go there. Since it isn't dual-locked, it seems like the robot has to move it somewhere. Judging from the theme of the challenge, the robot might have to take it away from somewhere and bring it back to base. Two models of wind-powered generators. There's no markings for their placement either, so we don't know what to do with them at this point.
This model is called a Power Plant. There doesn't seem to be anything on it that robots would manipulate (although one of the team members suggested that perhaps the robots had to knock the smokestack down :-)), so I'm guessing the robots might have to move something in the square formed by the roads around the Plant.

This model is straightforward... a train car is held at the top of a ramped track. When a lever is pushed, the car is released and runs down to the bottom of the track. There are some loose bricks in the car which can fall out when it reaches the bottom, so maybe there will be something about that in the challenge as well.

These two sets of models seem to have the same challenge, but it's hard to tell what that challenge is. Right now I'm thinking the red tower has to be removed from the "field" on the mat, or maybe just moved anywhere. Although the challenge could just as well be to remove the two non-red towers.

The pieces also included these four trees... any ideas for a challenge with these? Bonus objects?

Anyway, that's all of them - makes for a long post, doesn't it? :P



Anonymous said…
Given the theme, I'd bet a nickel that the gas guzzling truck needs to be replaced w/the Hydrogen car.
Anonymous said…
I was hoping some homeschool team would post a speculation about the missions! I have unrolled the mat so it will flatten, but I have to wait for school to start (Aug. 27) for the students to assemble the models. It's so hard to be the teacher/coach and not get to play with the goodies.

What about the power plant in the top right corner? Any way it can interact with the corn or uranium?

The street just above the base (on the other side of the river) doesn't have stripes on it. The power lines include a street with stripes. Maybe the power lines are delivered to that street. Or maybe they are duolocked to that street to make it harder to get to the satellite.

I would guess that the dam must be put in front of the flood, but it's hard to tell where they would fit on the scene.

Don't see any particular place for the trees, either.

I think that it is very interesting that this year you can't know what most of the missions are just by looking at the mat. I think this will make it more of an even start for all the teams on Sept. 5 when the challenge is released. Either that, or the mats are mis-printed and they left off the placement markings!
BlueToothKiwi said…
That is a great post - thanks for sharing.
Anonymous said…
I'm new to the NXT world. I had no idea this competition was so involved! Thanks so much for posting this!


That sounds like a very possible idea... you're probably right.


Whoops, forgot to include pictures of the power plant and trees - I've updated the post with them.

Although I don't think the uranium or corn could be put *on* the power plant, it's possible that the robot would have to move them inside the black square formed by the roads around the plant. As for the trees, I have no idea either.

I put a new picture for the Power Line model, showing one possible position for it - it lines up perfectly with one of the sidewalk sections.


Thanks, I'm glad it was helpful.

For the trees, my guess is that you have to "plant them" somewhere - symbolizing renewable resource, right? Maybe move them to a specific spot?

Anonymous said…
A few years ago (was it City Sights?) there were some trees that were placed but not duolocked (I think). You had to go around them to do a mission. If you moved a tree, no points for the mission. That was my first year with FLL, and I was just the faculty sponsor, not the coach, so I don't remember the exact situation.
Anonymous said…
The Engineers of Tomorrow are alsospeculating on the missions!
Anonymous said…
Oops, sorry folks, the link snapped. Try this one for our predictions. We haven't finished building the kit, but did a serious examination of the building plans today:

We think the oil barrels, there are 8 of them, are the bonus objects. Also wonder if some of the corn is harvested for food, and the other (red) one is delivered to the power plant to make biofuel.
Anonymous said…
The truck is a beautiful model. Very playable. Constant vigilance will be required at tournaments to make sure it doesn't drive off. It wouldn't even have to be intentional. The truck is just such I neat design that you want to pick it up and play with it. I agree that the mission is to replace the gas guzzler pickup with the hydrogen car. Partial points to repo the truck, and additional points for delivering the car.

I'm thinking the satellite mission is completely competitive. The antennae points to the team that gets the points. You get partial points if you release one solar panel and more points if both are released. This gives you an incentive to not release the solar panel if you don't get to the satellite first. I wonder if there will be a rule against reaching over and pulling the antennae back to your side?

The fact that the windmills are not duo-locked has me confused about their purpose. Are they a deliverable? That would be tricky because they are fragile and tippy. Where would they go? Instead of electrical generators could they be wind powered pumps that are somehow tied in with the dam + flood model? That would fit in well with the home of LEGO.

The dam has me stymied. I keep wanting to put it somewhere on the river because it is a dam and not a levee. Plus hydroelectric power fits in with the theme. But the dam doesn't fit on the rivers very well.

I'm hoping that the extra trees are to be placed randomly about the field on one of the tree images, and that you are penalized if you uproot them. That would put a serious kink in using point and shoot strategies.

This is a great looking challenge. It was fun having the girls over, listening to them postulate about the various missions. They built all the models with very little help from me (the instructions for the water are REALLY hard to see). It took us five hours (four 10 year olds). It would have gone faster, but I didn't print the instructions and only have two laptops.

The girls insist that I refer to this dam as the "dang". Whenever I slip up I'm greeted with "You swore Mr. Hystad" or "I'm telling!" I'm sure this is going to be a common theme this year and a source of much laughter.
Anonymous said…
I believe the windmills has to be delivered to the tractor image on the mat. The area around the tractor image is a farm and the best place to install wind generators is a farm.

The yellow uranium and corn loops represents fuel and are to be inserted into the smokestack tower.
Eric D. Burdo said…
*sigh* Now y'all got me wishing I was doing a FLL team this year. Doesn't look like I will be... :(

So I think I'll go volunteer downtown at one of the other teams.

I am definitely going to go judge and referee this year though... :)
Anonymous said…
Dean wrote:
I'm hoping that the extra trees are to be placed randomly about the field on one of the tree images, and that you are penalized if you uproot them. That would put a serious kink in using point and shoot strategies.

This is a great idea, and I hope you're right. We are always surprised at how many teams don't use any sensors at all, and rely on point and shoot as their only strategy.

Our other idea is that you might have to "plant" the trees near a house to provide shade from the sun and make the house more energy smart. There are 22 green blobs on that mat, many near houses.
Brian Davis said…
I hope the tree are somewhat random elements - point and shoot is actually a great strategy in a lot of cases (use it when you can), but for that very reason I've been hoping for some challenges that specificly discourage it and bring sensors into a stronger role.

As to swearing, Mr. Hystad... there are two spellings for that word. with very different meaning. It seems your over-zelous girls are hearing a silent "n" where there isn't one ;-).

The shared element is always the one that seems to interest me the most - I like anything that moves such an event away from a zero-sum game, and (at least in spirit) that's usually the shared challenge. I'm not sure if it will have a competitive aspect or not... but it certainly looks very interesting!

Dang, I've got to judge this year. Any readers know who I should contact in northern Indiana? :-).

Brian Davis
Anonymous said…
One possibility on the dam/flood is that it is for tidal power. It fits ok across the ocean behind the house.

I'd been thinking that the coal in the train car has to be transported to the power house but I really like the idea of looping the corn and uranium over the stack.

BTW, has anybody else done the puzzle? (don't give away the answer, just see how fast your team can solve it)
Anonymous said…
Can someone please define for me "point and shoot?" I'm new to the NXT world so forgive my ignorance. 8-)

Robolab 2.9 said…

"Point and shoot" is a tequnique (sp?) used by FLL teams that requires the following procedure: 1. The robot is pointed at the mission, and 2. The robot runs straight at the mission and manipulating/ solving the mission. It's a really a popular strategy. The Railroad + Rail car + Coal looks like on mission one could use this method on.

As for the House, the girl is on tiles, so she slips easily. I'm betting that you'd have to place the solar panel, WITHOUT knocking the girl over.

Really cool missions this year, we've only finished building 5 of the missions. Anyone know why there are so much setups this year?

HCECF said…
Solar Power Satellite - I agree w/ that this is the cooperative mission. However, I disagree with the scoring possibilities for it. I think this challenge is more like the "releace the dolphin" from the Ocean Odyssey mat. When you hit the red lever on your side, the satellite antenna drops to that side and that's where points will be awarded.
Well, if the satellite does award points to where the dish is pointing AND the points are substantial, this should be where you see a lot of teams directing their robots first.

Again, if this is the case, it should be fun watching teams rush to get to the center and trigger the challenge. I predict a robot that has some LONG arm that just reaches out and triggers it in some way (since the start point is near the center of the mat on one side).
Anonymous said…
My thought on the satellite is that is both competitive and cooperative. i.e. points to the team that gets the antenna and points to both teams if both panels are extended.

Is anyone interested in a coaches/adult competition? It would be appropriate to wait to display our solutions until after this season's conclusion, but it could be fun.
Anonymous said…
Maybe you are suppose to move the "Uranium" to the powerplant without moving the "red" one
The Wagars 8-) said…
We were befuddled by the flood, too. One of our team members placed it behind the house perpendicular to the wall. It seemed to fit there nicely. However, we didn't come up with any other ideas on it.

Our team did think that one of the vehicles might have to parked in the parking lot . . .just a thought. Thanks for the blog!!
Anonymous said…
The base seems smaller this year, and the "guesses" are that there will be many deliverables and retrievables. Perhaps the parking lot is where you can "park" the deliverables until you are ready to send them from the base, and where you can store the retrieveables after bringing them back to the base.

By the way, the mats seem to take up pretty much the entire table, with only small gaps east and west. The rule has always been to move the base snug into the corner, and leave the gaps at the opposite corner. Do you think the ruling this year will be to center the mat, leaving equal gaps east and west?
Anonymous said…
Base. Seeing the coloured dashes I think First has ruled out the use of jigs.(last year they tried that as well but were too late)

further I sincerely hope that with a base so well marked, that rule 20 leniancy will be skipped.
Joshua Heinzl said…
It would be cool if the trees were a random element. Maybe the windmills will go on the sea line behind the house. It'd also be cool if you had to retrieve the corn and uranium without moving the red items.

I can't wait for the challenge to be released. You can find a countdown timer on our website

Anonymous said…
can u put another mat picture?

it is so dark...

and can you put the mat with the models above too?

thank u a lot
Anonymous said…
TechBrick has a nice mat picture on it's worksheet at
Anonymous said…
Brian: I'll e-mail you contact info for northern Indiana FLL

Tom J: Earlier this year (June) there was a competition at BrickWorld that was open to anyone. I've seen them take place at several LEGO conventions.


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