BunnyBots 2020-21

PNW FRC Teams,
With COVID-19 among us I wanted to update everyone on our current thinking regarding BunnyBots next year so that you’ll have time plan your team activities.

Unless there’s some miracle vaccine or injectable disinfectant (just kidding) it seems highly unlikely that large gatherings of people will be a good idea, or even allowed, next December. Cramming hundreds of people into Catlin Gabel’s gym and tennis court in December is a fantastic way to get a lot of people sick just in time for the holiday season!

I was originally planning on a game that could be played in person or via teleconference for this year’s BunnyBots. That game is designed and can be rolled out in fall if a miracle occurs. In polling the students, though, the idea of intentionally launching a game that we highly suspect is going to end up being played over teleconference was not appealing. They already built one robot for this year’s FRC game that didn’t get to play (much) and weren’t looking forward to doing it again. As a last resort, sure, but not as our expected plan.

With that in mind here’s what we’re thinking.

FALL BUNNYBOTS
In early October we’ll look at the state of the virus and social distancing. I expect what we’ll see is that big gatherings are not recommended, and BunnyBots in December will be canceled. If it looks like it CAN happen then we’ll launch the game. Note that this launch in October would be later than normal to give us maximal visibility on the trajectory of the virus.

SPRING BUNNYBOTS
If FRC isn’t going to happen due to large gathering guidance, we’ll look at having an Outdoor BunnyBots in late April. This game will look vastly different than traditional BunnyBots and could be a blast. It opens up the possibility of a larger field, different terrain, higher speed, use of GPS, etc.

This is all dependent on what FIRST does given social distancing requirements. There have been suggestions of FIRST canceling the season, going remote in some way, replaying Infinite Recharge, or launching a new game as usual and hoping for the best. FIRST isn’t saying at this point and we may not hear until fall. Once we know FIRST’s intentions, and we can guess about what things might look like this coming April/May, we’ll launch the outdoor game if it makes sense. We don’t want teams having to design two robots during build season so the outdoor BunnyBots won’t happen is FRC is taking place and most teams are taking part.

We really don’t want students to go a year without building a robot. There’s just so much tribal knowledge that will graduate out the door if that happens especially for teams like ours that are 100% student designed and built.

COMMUNITY ENGINEERING PROJECTS
Because we hope to have a lot of new members this coming fall but expect an unpredictable school schedule (school may start but then go remote again) the Flaming Chickens will be focusing on engineering projects that benefit the community in some way. You might want to too. We want to make sure these projects have a high design component so new students will learn the whole Design Thinking and engineering process. We also want them to have enough fabrication practice that they’ll learn to use all the tools. You can see some of the ones we’ve done in the past at https://www.team1540.org/projectoverview and also LEAP projects at https://www.team1540.org/leap

DEMOBOT
Other members might want to build the ultimate demo robot. This is a robot we’ll keep assembled and would be a hit at demos, festivals, school events, and fairs. If we have spring BunnyBots we’ll also have a place where team’s can show these off. Many teams have built T-shirt canon robots but there are SO many possibilities. Maybe one that assembles hotdogs? Makes some giveaway? Can be ridden on? Plays basketball?

BOTTOM LINE
Sorry for this long message but I wanted to make sure everyone knows what we’re thinking about. I know many of us have built our fall around BunnyBots and it will be disorienting if it can’t happen. Just because an in-person competition can’t happen, though, doesn’t mean we can’t have geeky, satisfying fun.

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Thanks for the update, Dale and team. Lots of good, deep thinking there. I might add one other element and that is the expectation that everyone’s money coffers might be low so something that costs very little or encourages re-use of existing supplies would be appreciated. We know many of our FIRST corporate sponsors are struggling as are our local support system.

A good point Cindi. Another reason I hope FIRST just doesn’t blindly charge ahead as if nothing has changed. Building robots for two years in a row that don’t get to play would be really, really hard on student morale and team budgets.