The field is largely composed of the SimBody that consists of a heart in the center, a brain area near the surgeons (drivers), two sets of artery structures, and two structures holding veins. After a surgical tool is attached to the robot by the surgeon’s assistant (spotter), the robot enters the SimBody through incisions (doorways) near the robot starting area. Once inside the SimBody, the surgeon guides the robot to perform various surgical tasks. The surgeon’s view may be aided by a display that shows the output of a wireless point-of-view camera mounted to the robot. A list of the possible surgical objectives is listed below:

  • Brain biopsy
  • Cardiac valve repair
  • Coronary artery bypass
  • Cardiac ablation
  • Pacemaker electrode connection
  • Arterial plaque removal
  • Cardiac angioplasty (insertion of artery stent)
  • Vein harvesting
  • Internal hemorrhaging damage control

Many of the surgical activities involve the heart that is central to the SImBody. Defective valve membranes (panels) can be removed and replaced with new valve membranes, but the new membranes must be installed using either the field supplied surgical tool, or a team-developed surgical tool. The valves operate much like those in a real heart in that they allow flow only in one direction. Other surgeries on the heart include the attachment of pacemaker (blocks), and the attachment of Velcro patches to the heart. A much more complicated surgery requires collecting veins and installing them on the heart to perform a bypass operation. The point values associated with these surgeries are shown in the table that follows.




Faulty Membrane in Biowaste Container


New Membrane Installed – Outer Access


New Membrane Installed – Inner Access


Pacemaker Installed


Ablation Tag Installed – Visible


Ablation Tag Installed – Blind


Bypass per End Of Vein Attached - Visible


Bypass per End Of Vein Attached - Blind


One feature of the SimBody is that some areas are not readily visible from the surgeon’s location. As can be seen from the previous table, performing surgeries in these “blind” areas provides more points than that for the more visible surgeries. The point-of-view camera is intended to help the surgeon with these more difficult locations.

The two sets of arteries (three arteries each) contain plaque that can be removed using a surgical tool. The plaque can be collected on the robot or can be removed from the SimBody and placed into the Biowaste container located near the surgical assistant (spotter). The robot can also insert stents (that are initially located near the surgical assistant) into the arteries. The point values for these surgeries are shown in the table that follows.

Action Points
Visible Blind

Plaque Removed & On Robot



Plaque in Biowaste Container



Stent Inserted Lower



Stent Inserted Upper



The veins that can be used for the bypass operation on the heart can also be harvested for later use by removing them from their starting location and placing them into the vein harvesting area located just outside the SimBody. Blood droplets located around the heart can be gathered and deposited either in the robot starting area or in the biowaste container.

The final surgical area is around the brain. The brain biopsy procedure can only be completed autonomously with the robot beginning the autonomous operation in the area between the two robot start areas. The operation is complete when the brain biopsy is deposited onto the robot after the robot inserts a biopsy tool into the dispenser. Since the surgeons share an operating area and must coordinate the autonomous attempts, both teams benefit from one team’s completion of the autonomous brain biopsy procedure.



Vein Stored in Harvest Area


Blood Droplet in Robot Start Area


Blood Droplet in Biowaste Container


Brain Biopsy Sample Collected (on Robot)


Brain Biopsy Sample on Partner’s Robot



Teams may also achieve bonus points based on the number of surgeries that they complete:

  • 3-4 surgeries: 50 points
  • 5-6 surgeries: 100 points
  • 7 or more surgeries: 150 points

 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.
  • Robots may not interfere with another robot that is operating autonomously.
  • 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 eight teams, and a four-game round robin final between the top four teams. During the seeding competition, each team will play seven 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 seven of the eight teams that will advance to the semi-final round robin playoff.

The eighth team for the semi-finals will be the highest scoring team during a “wildcard” game. 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 eight 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 four additional matches to determine the final ranking order.

San Antonio BEST Award Results

  1. Spring Branch Middle School
  2. Smithson Valley Middle School
  3. JB Alexander High School
  4. Hill Country College Preparatory High School
  5. United Engineering and Technology Magnet
  6. William Howard Taft High School
  7. Uvalde High School
  8. Smithson Valley High School

Competition Results

  1. William Howard Taft High School
  2. Canyon Lake High School
  3. Spring Branch Middle School
  4. Smithson Valley Middle School
  5. Sandra Day O'Connor High School
  6. Smithson Valley High School
  7. United Engineering and Technology Magnet
  8. JB Alexander High School

Other Awards

  • BEST T-Shirt Award - Smithson Valley Middle School
  • Founders Award - 
    1. Hill Country College Preparatory High School 
    2. William Howard Taft High School
  • Most Robust Award - William Howard Taft High School
  • Good Lookin' John Wigand Most Photogenic - Canyon Lake High School
  • Most Spirit Award - JB Alexander High School
  • Most Sportsmanship Award - Great Hearts Northern Oaks
  • Best Table Display and Interview - Spring Branch Middle School
  • Best Use of Game Theme - Spring Branch Middle School
  • Blood, Sweat, and Duct Tape - St Gregory the Great School
  • SAME Award - United Engineering and Technology Magnet

Additional information on the Award Results and the Game Results are available.