The game field represents a damaged electrical grid that needs repair.  The field includes a diagonal row of high voltage towers where 345KV power lines need to be installed to complete multiple circuits.  On the center tower there are poles where 138KV power lines need to be installed to bridge between the high voltage transmission lines and other areas of the grid.  Large square substation transformers are needed near the edge towers for the high voltage line and near the 138KV poles.  Conduit is to be installed in underground trenches (surrounded by ramps) that allows the connection of 13KV circuits to the periphery of the field.  Distribution power poles near houses along the edge of the field provide support for 4KV power lines.  The installation of cylindrical residential transformers is also needed on the power poles near the houses.  In addition to installing and repairing the grid components there is debris cluttering the area that needs to be removed. As a new twist to this year’s game robots are also tasked with autonomously delivering spare insulators from the starting area to one or more of the high-voltage towers.

Most scoring areas are shared and are accessible by all teams on a first-come basis. Only the following scoring areas are assigned to a specific team:

  • Conduit trench.
  • Debris staging area and debris bin.
  • Residential (4KV) power line.
  • The lowest high-voltage (345KV) power line.

To allow proper identification of which team scored in the common scoring areas many of the team-assigned game pieces are color coded to match the team.  A summary of the shared and team-assigned game pieces is contained in the table that follows that also details the initial location of the game pieces.


Shared Items

Team Items

Starting Location

345 KV Transmission Line



Attached to Corner Tower and on Ground

138 KV Distribution Line



Equipment Stores

4KV Residential Line



Attached to Corner Pole

13KV Conduit Pipes



Equipment Stores

Substation Transformer



Transformer Skid

Residential Transformer



Transformer Skid

Spare Insulator



Equipment Stores

Ground Debris



On Field


345KV Corner Tower - Initial Line Position 345KV Towers with Lines Installed

Other than autonomous delivery parts (discussed later) scoring is based on the position of the item at the end of the match. The 345KV and 4KV lines are scored based on the number of segments that have been properly installed where a segment is supported by two hooks/insulators. The 138KV lines are scored per connection made but the second connection must be to the corresponding spot on the opposite pole. Conduit must lay flat within a trench to score.  Transformers are scored by either being properly installed in the base pad or mounted to the residential pole depending on the type of transformer. Ground debris can be scored by placing it into the staging area or into the debris bin.  Point values for the various scoring actions are detailed in the table that follows.

Scoring Action
Point Value
Maximum Points
345KV Line - Lower Segment connected 50 100
345KV Line - Middle Segment connected 70 560
345KV Line - High Segment connected 100 800
138KV Distribution Line Connected 40 320
138KV Distribution Line Segment connected 80
4KV Residential Line Segment connected 30x 90
13KV Conduit Installed in trench 20 180
Substation Transformer Installed in pad 60 240
Residential Transformer Installed on pole 40 240
Spare Insulator Autonomous delivery 200 400
Ground Debris Moved to staging area 20 360
Ground Debris Placed in debris bin 30

Autonomous scoring can happen at any point during a match.  Although black and white roads are provided to help robots find their way to the scoring towers, robots are not required to follow the lines.  The sequence required for a robot to make an autonomous delivery attempt is summarized as:

  1. The robot (flag) is located in starting box, and the driver notifies the referee that the team intends to attempt an autonomous delivery.
  2. The driver places joystick on the transmitter shelf.
  3. One (and only one) spare insulator is loaded onto the robot by the lineman (spotter).
  4. The driver initiates an automatic operation (without lifting the joystick) that causes the robot to operate without human interaction.
  5. To score, the insulator must not be touching robot and must break the plane of the base of the tower (and remain) prior to the end of the autonomous operation and the end of the match.
  6. The autonomous period ends when the driver touches the joystick again.

The following bonus score opportunities exist in addition to the scoring elements previously described:

  • 50 points: For delivery to both autonomous sites.
  • 100 points: Flexibility bonus for completion of all of the items:
  1. Connecting one segment of any power line.
  2. Filling one conduit trench (three pipes).
  3. Installing one substation transformer.
  4. Placing one debris item into the dumpster.
Residential Lines - Installed Transformer Skid

There are many additional rules governing the actions of the team members on the field, but a few important restrictions are as follows. 

  • The driver and lineman must stay in their respective areas.
  • Game pieces that start on the field cannot be touched by the team members.
  • The lineman can interact with the robot in a very limited manner to load parts from the equipment stores area and to position the robot to execute the autonomous function.
  • The driver may not touch any part of the field, or any game pieces.
  • The lineman may not interact with the robot in the robot start box while the driver is holding the controller.

Teams have constructed their machines subject to a list of allowable materials and other rules on construction, as well as initial size and weight limits.  There are also numerous restrictions on how the game is played.  A partial list of restrictions includes:

  • Robots may not attempt to take game pieces that are being grasped by another robot.
  • Robots may not remove game pieces that have been placed in a scoring position by another team.
  • Intentional contact between robots for the sole purpose of obstructing autonomous deliveries is not allowed.
  • Aggressive/malicious actions may result in a penalty or elimination from the match.

There will be three phases to the contest: a partial round robin seeding competition, a six-game round robin semi-final between the top 16 teams, and a three-game round robin final between the top four teams.  During the seeding competition, each team will play eight games against randomly selected opponents.  The team’s average score (after the lowest score is dropped) during the seeding competition will be used to rank the team and to determine 14 of the 16 teams that will advance to the semi-final round robin playoff.

The 15th and 16th teams for the semi-finals will be the highest scoring teams during two “wildcard” games. The participants for the wildcard game are selected based on the score of their engineering notebook.  All teams are required to turn in an engineering notebook documenting the development and design of their robot.  This notebook is a significant portion of the BEST Award and the wildcard game gives teams further incentive to turn in quality notebooks by rewarding them for their effort.

At the start of the semi-finals, the scores will be reset to zero. For the semi-final round robin playoff, the top 16 teams will each play three matches.  The total of each team’s scores for these three matches will determine which four teams advance to the finals.  For the final competition, total scores will again be reset to zero.  The top four teams will play three additional matches to determine the final ranking order.

San Antonio BEST Award Results:

  1. United Engineering and Technology Magnet*
  2. Smithson Valley High School*
  3. Smithson Valley Middle School*
  4. Harlandale High School*
  5. John Jay Science and Engineering Academy*
  6. Devine High School*
  7. Spring Branch Middle School*
  8. St. Gregory the Great School*

Competition Results:

  1. United Engineering and Technology Magnet*
  2. Devine High School*
  3. St. Gregory the Great School*
  4. Smithson Valley High School*
  5. Antonian Preparatory High School*
  6. Brennan High School*
  7. El Campo High School
  8. Lyndon B. Johnson High School

Teams Advancing to the UIL State Championship:

  • Small School (1): Devine High School*
  • Large School (1): United Engineering and Technology Magnet*
  • Large School (2): Smithson Valley High School*
  • Large School (3): John Jay Science and Engineering Academy*
  • Large School (4): Alexander High School*


* teams advancing to the Texas BEST and UIL State Robotics Championship from SA BEST (5 UIL, 3 BEST, 3 Competition)

Other Awards:

  • Founders Award - 
    1. Devine High School
    2. Lyndon B. Johnson High School
  • Most Robust - Devine High School
  • Good Lookin' John Wigand Most Photogenic - Harlandale High School
  • Best Table Display and Interview – Spring Branch Middle School
  • Most Spirit – John Jay Science and Engineering Academy
  • Most Sportsmanship – Smithson Valley High School
  • BEST T-shirt – Smithson Valley Middle School
  • BEST Use of Game Theme – Smithson Valley Middle School
  • Blood, Sweat and Duct Tape – Brooks Academy for Science and Engineering
  • SAME Award - John Jay Science and Engineering Academy
  • AFCEA Diversity Award for Women in STEM - IDEA San Benito College Preparatory School

The  2019 Game Results and the 2019 BEST Award Results are available.