NOTE – I originally hadn’t intended to ask this question of the ChiefDelphi community prior to receiving an answer to our pending Q&A from the FIRST Game Design Committee, but so many people have asked about what happened to our dual-configuration robot in the four days since the start of our week 1 regional that I am having difficulty justifying the continued delay to reply to folks while waiting for the official Q&A response…
This year our team employed a strategy that piqued our curiousity in past years every time we saw the “different configurations of the ROBOT” phrase in the weight rule (<R12> this year) – we built a robot with two radically different configurations.
Our first robot configuration (which we call “Fezzik”) is a standard, but minimal, drive base with an arm; the second configuration (“Speed Racer / Mach 6”) is a very small, light, lap-runner with a cool autonomous mode. We worked hard to minimize weight on each configuration in order to have the total for both meet the 120 pound maximum weight limit. We designed a modular electronics board which would fit in the available space for each drivetrain, as well as have the appropriate circuit breakers and speed controllers. We also made compromises with each configuration to reduce weight as much as possible. When all was said and done, we just barely made weight with the two configurations – 87.7 pounds for Fezzik (including the electronics board) and 32.1 pounds for the Speed Racer without any electronics. We were very excited for the possibilities opened up by being able to choose which configuration of the robot to field in any given match given the composition of our alliances. We also thought our approach was innovative and potentially award-worthy.
However, upon arriving at the Granite State Regional, we learned that our dual-configuration robot would not be allowed, as it was considered to be in violation of Rule R09: “Each registered FIRST Robotics Competition team can enter ONE (1) ROBOT into the 2008 FIRST Robotics Competition.” We protested that we didn’t have two robots, but rather one dual-configuration robot. Prior to the tournament, we had not submitted an official Q&A asking if our approach was permissible, as we thought our design was completely within the rules. However, a different line of reasoning (“If it looks like two robots, it’s two robots”) would indicate that our design is clearly against the rules.
On Thursday afternoon, we submitted a multi-page description of our approach and design, including photos of each configuration, to the official Q&A. (You can read the same description in a link titled “official request for clarification” in the Team News section of our website: http://www.mechanicalmayhem.org/default.asp#GSR-Day1.) We realized when we submitted the Q&A that we would almost surely not hear an answer before the completion of the Granite State Regional, as those who would be involved with the decision were probably all busy at other regional tournaments! However, we wanted to submit the question to the official Q&A as soon as possible in case we might possibly have a reply prior to Saturday’s elimination rounds or before we would have to pack the robot into the crate in case we qualified for the Championships. As we anticipated, we didn’t receive a reply to our question during the tournament, but we still had a great time at GSR nonetheless. Fezzik performed admirably, ending up as the #4 seed, and our efforts at the tournament during the qualification rounds could be focused on Fezzik’s needs rather than being split between the two different configurations.
The need for an answer to our question has been overcome by events, as we didn’t qualify for the Championships (our alliance with 126 and 1307 was beaten fair and square in 4 hard-fought semifinal matches against 121, 40, and 134 who later emerged as the GSR champions) but we hope to hear the official response in the Q&A at some point regarding our dual-configuration robot.
In any case, we hope to get both Fezzik and Speed Racer some laps at post-season tournaments this summer!