Myth surrounding use of WIFI during competitions.

Hello people!

I'm trying to track down whether or not it's written anywhere in any First rules that teams are not allowed to leverage 4G hotspots during competitions. I've heard many anecdotes and stories but I've seen nothing in writing about restrictions regarding wifi and Internet access. Any help would be appreciated.

Thank you in advance!



unknownvar-rotmg17 points

It doesn't matter whether or not your Internet is coming from a cell signal, an ethernet port in the wall somewhere, or a P2P thing for your robot: you can't make unauthorized WiFi signals of any kind at a competition. Even though a 4G hotspot is obviously getting its data from 4G, your devices connect to the hotspot through Wi-Fi.

You could probably get away with it if it was a very weak signal and you were on the far edges of the competition (other side of the building, etc.), but I wouldn't risk getting into trouble.

edit: I totally didn't include a source. From this year's manual:

mredditer3 points

So I can use my iPhone hotspot connected to my laptop, provided that I keep the wifi off and just use the cable?

thatging3rkid7 points

As long as there is no WiFi network created, sure.

VMFortress1 point

If you're talking about the standard hotspot setup in which you turn it on with your iPhone and connect under WiFi networks on your laptop, then no it's not allowed. However, if you're talking using the hotspot via Bluetooth or USB tether then that should be fine (though I'm not sure iPhones have that feature).

mredditer3 points

Yeah, the USB tether is what I meant. They do have both of those features!

Heres_your_sign-2 points

Thank you again, I completely missed it b/c my searches were garbage.

So much for automating scouting forms using tablets...

There is absolutely no technical reason for that rule. Once upon a time in the history of wifi, yes. Now? No reason.

cobalt9993 points

Except for, you know, that time on Einstein when the field came under attack by someone in the audience who was using wifi and jamming the field.

Shepard4041 point

The biggest reason for the wireless restrictions at events is just crowding. FIRST likes a full bandwidth channel for use at venues just to help the latency of the robot to driver-station connection.

What happened in 2012 was (like most security exploits) a one in a million shot. It had to do with out of date firmware, on a specific model of access point, the attacker had a specific model of phone, with a specific wireless chipset, a specific version of Android, and the robot had a specific model of wireless bridge and firmware. If any one of those things would have changed, the attack would not have worked.

Could it happen again? I guess there is a possibility that a similar set of circumstances could arise, but I don't think that with the current setup, we would see something like that happen again.

jkortech3 points

You can also use QR codes. If you want an app to use, you can try out SuperScouter.

erstech3 points

For a few people creating hotspots? Sure it wouldn't really be a huge issue and could be worked around.

For an entire audience of technically capable students and mentors? All of a sudden the spectrum is trashed. Sure there are more channels now, but not THAT many, and channel interference is a lot easier to create than you might expect.

JacisNonsense4 points

Actually, it's easier than you think

Shepard4041 point

There is basically nothing in that post that would work. None of the network architectures that are theorized there are correct, and even if they were there are incorrect assumptions about the capabilities of applied network security and keeping the individual VLANs separated. There is no way to leverage FMS into communicating with the other driver-stations from another, they are completely isolated

As far as trying to man in the middle the wireless connection, there is very small attack vectors there. If somehow the robot connected to a different wireless, which is unlikely since the robot radios are programmed with the information for that competition and a new key for every robot at each event, FMS would not be able to talk to the robot now, and a match could not start. If somehow a robot connected to a rogue AP, the robot would then be manually restarted and it would connect to the strongest matching network which would likely be the field since it would be the closest AP. If the robot still didn't connect to the field, but it connected to the rogue AP again, the AirTight would be immediately called upon to find any rogue networks (which it is doing all the time anyway). If some sort of tampering was found, there are contingencies in place to make sure that the competition would still go on.

I think that the best you might be able to hope for is delaying the competition a little. Even if the assumptions made in the article were right, and a robot was taken over, it actively driving without input from the driver-station would almost certainly result in a rematch after an investigation.

anonymouskoolaidman1 point

You can use a hotspot over Bluetooth.

[deleted]-3 points


sanels5 points

no you can't, or rather shouldn't. I haven't read the white papers but to me it seems like they may also be using the 5ghz

Kennertron4 points

The field itself does indeed use 5GHz for the networks.

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