2021 Bumper Color Rule Change

Does anyone have the inside scoop on why the Game Design Committee chose to allow “any solid color” on bumper corners in 2021?

My best guess is to make it easier to have reversible bumpers. We’ve had to cut the angled flaps so they match up on the corners, but faced scrutiny from Robot Inspectors about whether the flaps matched precisely to cover every micron of the blue fabric underneath. This rule seems to alleviate that hassle. Without caring about corners, reversible bumpers will be much easier to make.

However, it does state “any solid color”, making me wonder if teams will (or are encouraged to) use this for pageantry? Hey @148 Robowranglers, are you going to have #AllBlack corners on your bumpers? And @3284 LASER are you going to have neon green corners?


I think the scoop is that we are competing at home and there is no need to differentiate between alliances. I fully expect teams to incorporate more team branding into their bumpers if they make a new set.


Easier to make reversible bumpers?

I’ve never made reversible bumpers so I can’t comment on that. But you shouldn’t need to change bumper colors for any at home competitions.

To a person trying to make reversible bumpers a thing, every bumper color rule change looks like it is.” -Maslow or something IDK

Sadly it almost seems like this rule is, in fact, doing that. Not sure if it’ll stick for future years, but we’ll see.
Once they add a provision along the lines of “Yo if your bumper color just randomly changes mid-match and fabric starts dragging on the ground it’s all cool, no penalty” I’ll believe it.


No inside information, but it does allow this. RoboPromo's New Quick Change Bumpers For 2021 - General Forum - Chief Delphi

There you go. Thanks for the heads up on that.

Beat me to it… I just came here to troll @troy_dietz with that link

Bumpers have always been a problem point during inspection and in my experience the #1 problem.

In recent years FIRST has finally come around to the thought that it is a robot competition and not a bumper competition. So they have slowly eliminated restrictions that don’t affect function. First they were allowed to be left out of the bag and then they were allowed to be reused. This is just another welcome step in the rationalization of bumper rules.


Plz drive a robot in competition (whenever that is possible) and get back to me on how annoying it is when you can’t immediately distinguish if a robot is friend or foe.

Of course, that doesn’t matter this year, which is why I have a feeling this change might not stick.
Like almost everybody else, I hate making bumpers -see 330 2018 and 2019- and would gladly take the opportunity to do half the work as long as it doesn’t present other issues.

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I was surprised that they allow such a large area of non-alliance color to show. The big issue was that the rules were written that even a sliver of another color would not be allowed. However since they could have allowed any color for bumpers for the at home challenge I’d say this rule is here to stay though it may be tweaked before we have in-person events.

I recall seeing teams using flip bumpers where they were worried that a few stray threads of the wrong colour showing would get them into trouble with a RI who interpreted the rules too rigidly.

Robots with opaque upper structures and/or structures on the field will block one’s view of the bumpers on other robots, especially when viewing the field from the driver stations or when standing next to the field.

I wish that they would have disallowed red or blue on the corners if you chose to go this route. My brain still gets distracted too easily.

I’d might say disallow red or blue robots too, but I would be crucified.


I agree. I wish they had written the rule to allow for non-alliance specific colors on the corners as long as they were not red or blue. The problem is that the rules on what is considered red or blue are so broad that black would probably be considered blue and neon pink or orange would probably be considered red. Probably your only safe bet would be to use purple so that you could argue that it was both red and blue at the same time…

I concur, and this seems like a good idea. Although there is theoretically some harm, there’s much more benefit. Teams struggle to implement fast bumper changes (whether changing entire bumpers, or switching colours), and this suggests a clearly acceptable solution without jumping through the hoops necessary to cover the difficult corners.

The problem with bumpers is that (with some justification), people don’t treat them as difficult because they’re just stupid cushions. How hard could it be? So they’re surprised when it is pointed out to them at inspection that there is no consistent principled basis within the manual to cut them a break when their robot varies from the voluminous bumper rule, and find themselves rushing to comply with the threat of failing inspection hanging over them. Compounding this issue, officials recognize the absurdity of this situation, and inconsistently cut teams breaks, because in the face of disproportionate consequences, justice seems to demand some flexibility.

Lowering the threshold of compliance is a great thing. I just wish we could have gotten to this point several years ago. I wonder if the GDC truly contemplated, over a decade ago when some of these issues were first raised, that their solution of maximal consistency from year to year (in the face of consistent problems) would engender thousands of bad bumper-related experiences while we slowly got to this point.

The bottom line is that now, quick and easy reversible bumpers lack major pitfalls. (As minor pitfalls go, remember to keep the hooks of the hook and loop fasteners off the carpet, and secure everything tightly.) Teams shouldn’t need to physically remove the whole bumper from the robot. This in turn gives teams a better chance of succeeding in mounting the bumpers robustly. This will reduce the number of gameplay incidents, and reduce the effort teams and inspectors spend on getting bumpers ready for competition.

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I’m not totally sure if this pertains to this direct topic, but I was wondering if the new rules for this year mean that a team can have their bumpers be an entirely different color than red or blue.

My team really wanted to do bright purple this year & was wondering if that was allowed. Thank you!

Welcome to ChiefDelphi!

According to SC7 of the At Home Challenges manual, the bumper fabric may be any color.
Manual used: https://firstfrc.blob.core.windows.net/frc2021/Manual/2021AtHomeChallengesManual.pdf

I have not followed closely with the rules, please correct if wrong.

Awesome!! Thank you so much!

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