STEAMWORKS is played by two alliances of three teams each. The alliances compete to place gears on their airship, shoot fuel into their boilers, and climb their rope to hang from the airship.
The game is played on a 27 by 54 ft field, with two structures in the middle known as the air ship. They contain three gear lifts and three touch pads with ropes. Each alliance has two human players in their airship who pick up the gears the robots place on the lift. The first 15 seconds of the game are autonomous, where the robots drive and complete tasks without human control.
The next 2 minutes and 15 seconds are known as the teleop period, where human drivers control the robots from their end of the field. During this time, robots can either place gears on their airship or shoot fuel into their boiler. Robots can only carry one gear at a time, so after placing one gear they must drive to the opposite end of the field, where they can resupply.
The last 30 seconds of the match are known as the endgame. During this time, the ropes are dropped from the airship and the robots are allowed to climb up them. The alliance gets points for each touch pad activated at the end of the game.