The purpose of the shepherding team is to ensure that teams have the best chance possible of attending all of their matches, by getting them through staging before the start of their match.


Here is a description of the roles related to shepherding.

Head Shepherd

Responsible for managing the shepherds which they may bring in as their only subordinate role.

  • Work with the Arena Manager to define the match staging area
  • Check and report volunteer arrival.
  • Assign volunteers to roles.
  • Brief volunteers.
  • Supervise shepherds and adjust shepherding procedures where necessary. Notably: consider whether the "roving shepherd" and "timekeeper" roles are needed for the venue. It was noted during SR2019 that it wasn't clear that these roles provided much additional benefit given the layout of the venue and having only a single arena respectively.
  • Debrief roving shepherds to record locations of teams bases to then pass on to the next roving shepherd. They should also check for any immediately obvious Health and Safety issues (blocking fire exit, walkway etc.).


Responsible for finding teams and ensuring they make it to their matches.

They report to the Head Shepherd and may not create further subordinate roles.

Below is a description of the various tasks shepherds might be assigned. You will receive your assignment to one of the roles from the Head Shepherd. At different stages of the competition (initial matches or finals) additional temporary tasks will be necessary.

Team shepherds

Each team shepherd is responsible for notifying teams in their zone when it is time to move to the staging area. They will be notified via radio by the timekeeper when it is time to do so (note that this time may vary by zone, meaning shepherds responsible for zones further away from the arena might be told to fetch earlier). Each team shepherd is assigned a colour and is responsible for all teams whose bays are in the zone of the same colour as shown in the shepherding layout map. Furthermore, they will receive a printout of the match schedule which will show which teams need to be fetched for which match with teams under their responsibility coloured in in the respective colour.

We ask that shepherds notify the head shepherd immediately if they find any changes/errors in layout or colouring of their match schedule.

Once a shepherd has been told to fetch all teams under their responsibility for a certain match, they have to make sure each team is told within 2 minutes to give teams enough time to make their way to the staging area. For matches where a particular shepherd has to fetch many teams (more than 4 generally), we recommend starting the process a bit earlier. The shepherd can request from the timekeeper via radio to get the fetching signal a bit earlier in this case if they would find this helpful.

If a team is not in their pit, team shepherds will notify the head shepherd who will then dispatch the roving shepherds to search for the team if necessary (they could in theory already be at staging).


The responsibility of the timekeeper is to be aware of the schedule and assist the shepherds in the other roles.

More specifically, they should watch the shepherding screen and notify the team shepherds via radio when it is time for them to fetch their teams. The timekeeper should also notify the other shepherds of any updates or changes of schedule.

If it seems like the timing does not work out (teams waiting for a long time for staging or teams arriving too late for staging) the timekeeper should discuss an update of the fetching schedule with the head shepherd.


The responsibility of the guard is to open and close the staging area at appropriate times and control entry to this area.

More specifically the guard should not allow anyone into the staging area unless they are a blueshirt or staging for the next match. Only one person from each team is allowed in the staging area and they must wear a high-vis vest showing their team name, indicating that they have passed the safety test. When letting a team (=person with a robot) into the staging area the guard should tell them which corner they will stage for, ideally mentioning the colour and approximate location of the staging desk if possible. We recommend that the guard keeps a record of which teams have already been admitted for a particular match. If the guard sees a team leaving the staging area with robot markers still attached to their robot, she should request that the team return the markers before leaving the staging area.


The responsibility of the badgers is to supervise the staging as well as to hand out and return robot badges and USB-keys.

More specifically, the badgers should make sure that teams follow the direction of travel through the staging area. Once the teams have entered staging the badgers then hand out the robot badges and match keys to the teams, making sure that a team has staged in the correct slot and is receiving the correct badges. The teams leaving the arena should be advised to place their robots on the de-staging desks for badge and USB key removal. The badgers need to collect the badges and keys and sort them, ready to be handed out in the next round of staging. The badgers need to ensure that teams do not leave the staging area with markers or USB-keys. The badgers should also clear any items left on the staging tables at this point to prepare for the next round of staging.

Roving Shepherd

The responsibility of the roving shepherd is to sweep the venue and look for teams that are not in their pits.

Teams are often known to set up 'bases' away from their pits, and the roving shepherd will be responsible for curating a list of these bases, to aid in the searching for teams that are not in their pits.

The roving shepherd will be notified of teams that need to be found via radio, they will then check if they have a known base. If they do they'll proceed to it to try and find the team. If the team does not have a known base or is not there, the roving shepherd will walk through each floor of the venue in an attempt to locate them.

The Roving Shepherd is not required to find every missing team, purely do a best effort sweep of the venue. If a team can not be found they will notify the Head Shepherd immediately.

The Roving Shepherd will receive a printout of the match schedule which will show which teams need to be fetched for each match. We ask that shepherds notify the head shepherd immediately if they find any changes/errors in layout or colouring of their match schedule.


Shepherd's will communicative via radio with a fallback option of Slack if for some reason radios stop working. While Radios will require brief volunteer training, it means that our primary communication method is not reliant on the venue's WiFi, volunteers having devices to view slack on, or volunteers using their own personal mobile data.


This page is based on work done by Elisabeth and Thomas Leese, originally published at, which was under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. To view a copy of this license, visit or send a letter to Creative Commons, PO Box 1866, Mountain View, CA 94042, USA.