This is really close to an OCCRA field, at least for this year’s game (which is 20’ x 30’). If you allow for 6’ - 8’ of alliance station on each side then 24’ x 36’ is just short enough to fit across the width of a standard basketball court. With 8’ x 8’ pits you could fit 24 teams on the other half of the court. This would be cozy but you could fit all of the required robot areas in a standard high school basketball court for small events. Great for being able to increase the amount of venues that can host events since you don’t need a second gym or cafeteria nearby to host pits like you do for most high schools now (though you could for larger events).
I’d go further and say one dimension should be a maximum of 30" with bumpers, so robots can fit through typical door frames (100" perimeter gets you really close but might require some compressing and coaxing of the bumpers).
I’d like sightly smaller robots so they are easier to carry and transport but are not as small as VEX or FTC bots. The 80 pounds Billfred mentioned sounds like a good area, maybe closer to 90. To be the “varsity sport” of robotics competitions the robots still need to have that industrial imposing look to them and need to be larger than a hobby kit. Similarly I wouldn’t want motor power to drop off a lot from what FRC has now. Some of the motors and controllers that are allowed should be ones that wouldn’t be surprising to be found on middleweight combat robots. I do like bumpers since the program isn’t BattleBots, but I’m sure there is a way that the rules can be eased up sightly to let teams comply more easily while still protecting against most impacts. A simpler rulebook overall would be good though I think teams are always going to find small exploits in the rules as written that will still require a Q&A and update system.
These are all things to see in the robot and game. In an alternative program itself:
- Recognition of volunteers and mentors with awards like the Volunteer of the Year and Woodie Flowers awards. Make sure these are prominent in events.
- Registration fees in the $1000 - $2000 range. I think this helps a lot in the sustainability area, lowering the barrier to entry and making it easier to sustain a team. In a number of years as a one-and-done team that would have been a 50% decrease in total funding needed for the season. I realize this would probably require a fundamental change in how HQ is operated but we are talking about ideal here.
- An emphasis on GP and community involvement. There are valid gripes about the Chairman’s “pyramid scheme” criteria but this is one of FRC’s greatest strengths. An alternative program that improved upon robot rules and cost but lost the non-robot awards or the culture of GP is a step backwards.