Bag and Tag issues?

With the ship date and time here, many teams need to bag and tag while others need to crate them up.

I am wondering how many teams put the robot away with the bumpers on?

My prior experiences with bag and tag last year, showed that robots with bumpers still on them had a problem going through normal sized doors.

It’s heart breaking to see a well engineered robot not be allowed into the event to compete because of the bumpers being on.

Good Luck this year!

See you soon at FLR.

We got ours thru the normal sized door in the storage room. But then we make the robot two inches below max size every year…

Our bumpers are on the robot, but not mounted to the frame… Does that count?

we have are bumpers on but we havent completed the blue set yet

Our bumpers aren’t in the bag, but next to it in our storage crate. Both sets of them are completed. :smiley:

I hope you know that bumpers are counted in the withholding allowance…

And also, only our front bumpers are on, so we can go through a door!

We have our bumpers on, just so our robot looks complete until we use up part of our 6 hours to work before Traverse City.

Our robot has bumpers on and we can get through the a normal sized door.

Was there a prior situation we should know about?

Those bumpers now count against your witholding allowance.

They are only in there (the crate in our shop) for now as means of storage, they are not in the bag itself.

Right – which means that they now count against your withholding allowance. If they were in the bag, they would not.

Could someone please show me this rule. As it states the withholding allowance is for robot subsystems etc. Where as the bumper rules state only parts permanently attached to the robot are considered as part of the robot and not the bumper. I can’t find or have missed the rule where you must ship your bumpers. Or a rule stating that bumpers are considered part of your robot.

We’re not trying to trick you, man.

WITHHOLDING ALLOWANCE – a limited amount of FABRICATED ITEMS that are withheld from the shipping requirements (specified in the 2011 FRC Administrative Manual, Section 5) and retained by the team following the shipping deadlines. These items are then hand-carried to a competition event by the team. The OPERATOR CONSOLE is automatically included in the WITHHOLDING ALLOWANCE. Beyond that, the incoming material maximums specified in Rule <R33> limits the amount of FABRICATED ITEMS included in the WITHHOLDING ALLOWANCE.

Does not mention bumpers.

<R11> does mention that bumpers are not included when determining the size and weight of the robot–but it does not say they are not counted against the WITHHOLDING ALLOWANCE.

For the purposes of determining compliance with the weight and volume limitations, the items listed below are NOT considered part of the ROBOT and are NOT included in the weight and volume assessment:

B. BUMPER assemblies (including BUMPER covers, if appropriate) that are in
compliance with Rules <R07> and <R08>,

Unfortunately, I think I see where this bumper confusion is coming from. The rules don’t actually say that the bumpers are part of the robot, nor the hostbot in particular.* (It’s not in the definitions of robot, hostbot or bumper, nor is it explicit in “The Robot”.) They do make repeated references to the bumpers being attached to the robot, and even distinguish between parts of the robot and parts of the bumper. This could easily be interpreted as meaning the bumpers are a separate system, distinct from the robot.

And the <R11> exclusion is no help, because there’s no explicit inclusive component to that rule—it says what bumpers aren’t (part of the weight limit), but doesn’t say what they are. (Similarly, it says that the operator console is not part of the weight limit, but doesn’t say whether or not it’s part of the robot. Same reasoning applies.)

We all (FIRST included, presumably) assume that they are part of the robot, because that’s the way it worked before, but if FIRST didn’t actually say so in the rulebook, why should we assume any given team will comply with our expectations, rather than use their own good-faith, logically-consistent reading of the rules?

Now, there was that Q&A that said bumpers count toward the withholding allowance—but if you’re operating under the assumption that the bumpers aren’t part of the robot (for the reasons described previously), then the Q&A is obviously erroneous: fabricated items are components, which are robot parts, and therefore bumpers couldn’t be part of the withholding allowance, because they aren’t robot parts at all. (And if the Q&A contradicts the rules, we have to go with the rules.)

So, let’s make an effort to quote the relevant rule (to put this matter to rest).

*Feel free to correct me if I missed something. I didn’t do as thorough a re-reading of the rules as I might have, because I really ought to be doing something else at the moment…

Yeah, sure. You go ahead and don’t count your bumpers in your WITHHOLDING ALLOWANCE, and show up with 30 lbs of stuff plus bumpers, and see if you’re deemed legal to compete…

From <R33> “All other FABRICATED ITEMS to be used on the ROBOT during the competition…”

Are bumpers used on the robot?

Did the actual rules, plus the Q&A clarification, somehow make this unclear?

Bumpers count toward your WITHHOLDING ALLOWANCE, plain as day. No amount of rules lawyering or pleading will make it otherwise.

Circular logic: fabricated items are by definition robot parts, so you can’t apply <R33> unless you presuppose that bumpers are robot parts. (Which is what we want to demonstrate.)

Anyway, the central point isn’t what I think the rule should be, or how I think it will be enforced; rather, it’s a matter of what FIRST wrote and didn’t write, and whether teams are entitled to take FIRST at its word when it comes to interpreting the rulebook.

Maybe I should explain further, lest anyone get the wrong impression.

First of all, most of the time, if I describe some sort of inconsistency in the rules, it’s not even about any particular team’s robot. And that’s probably a good thing—after all, it’s much more difficult to manage rules controversies at an event with a robot in front of you, than it is in the realm of online discussion.

While these sorts of criticisms may come off as curmudgeonly, I’d really prefer not to let deference to FIRST’s authority and competence get in the way of frank debate about potential areas for confusion.

In abstract terms, I think there’s an exceedingly strong case that FIRST has a responsibility to act in an equitable manner toward teams that are operating in good faith and who follow a logical chain of reasoning that is consistent with the text of the current rules, but which is not consistent with the unspoken intent, spirit or historical interpretation. The rules are a common set of specifications that all the teams agree to follow, and when teams follow the rules differently, they’re still following the rules. If that weren’t the case, FIRST could tell them “you did what we said, not what we meant, so go rebuild your robot”; that’s not equity, that’s caprice. When that happens, FIRST looks dumb, the inspectors look dumb, and the teams get angry.

From another perspective, the inspectors are there to make sure that all the robots compete, and do so in full compliance with the rules. Since these aren’t exactly parallel objectives, there are occasionally special cases where FIRST implicitly or explicitly approves of deviations from the stated rules—but I view that as the province of extreme last resort, where either the transgression is so minor and the corrective action so onerous that it is nearly impossible to comply, or where no other solution is equitable (with regard to the team in question, as well as all the other teams at the event, and all of the other teams in FIRST who may be impacted by the fallout of the decision).

In practice, that means that making up a new constraint to solve an omission in the rules just doesn’t work (even if everyone else thought that constraint was already applicable). The team that interpreted the rules correctly but differently does not deserve to suffer because FIRST failed to anticipate an edge case. Just as the team covenants to follow the rules, FIRST covenants to apply the rules fairly. I’ll temper this by noting that fairness is also relative to the impact on the competition. If the results of the ruling would tend to make a mockery of the event, then perhaps strict adherence to that covenant is not appropriate. But bumpers? I don’t think this is such a situation.

Now is this the most efficient way to solve rules problems? Maybe not. But teams and officials have to work within the framework of the rulebook in order to have a successful and respectable competition. And as long as we’re operating within the framework of the rules as they exist today, I’d have to say that teams in the “bumpers don’t count” camp have a legitimate case. Will the inspectors at their events see it the same way? Maybe, maybe not. So as a result, I can hardly advise someone to take that risk deliberately. But if they were already under that impression, I hope that this discussion enables them to more clearly articulate their reasoning.

Finally, as far as FIRST goes, there’s a bit of a problem with just changing the rule now: the robots have shipped! If they close the loophole now, they disadvantage a few teams severely. If they leave the loophole open, whoever can take advantage will, though some will complain that they didn’t know and can no longer take full advantage. (And if FIRST denies the loophole exists, then they just set the inspectors up for a lot of argumentation. Don’t do that unless there’s a clear rule that I’m overlooking.) Given that choice, and those outcomes, and presupposing that those who stand to lose the most are innocent of failing to read the rules, I think that explicitly opening the loophole is the best course of action.

Robot went right in the bag, we sealed the tag and called it a day.

We kept our bumpers out of the bag with our withholding allowance. We do it every year, and it just makes handling the robot easier.