Calling all Lawyers…
Okay, I know I am opening a can of worms here but I have some questions about shipment of parts:
Here are the FIRST rules as far as I understand them, simplified as much as I can simplify them:
The only legal parts to use on your robot at your 1st Regional had to be shipped on Feb. 19th or must be made at the competition.
All parts at Nth Competition have to be shipped directly to (N+1)th Competition (N=1,2)
Teams can make whatever changes/improvement they wish during a competition AT the competition
Teams can make replacement parts between the end of a competition and Wednesday Midnight following a competition.
Spare parts made during legal building times (i.e. the 6 week build period and the time described in #4 above) may be legally brought to the 2nd or 3rd competitions, even parts that were not shipped to the 1st regional (This rule enforced by gracious professionalism of participants).
Here is the source of my confusion:
I suppose that FIRST intended Rule #2 to keep a team from putting only part of their robot in the box and then taking the rest of their robot home with them to be improved and perhaps even practiced with between competitions.
As I recall, FIRST even put “all” in caps (“ALL parts…”) to emphasize that all robot parts at a competition have to be shipped to the next venue.
So far so good.
It is Rule #5 in light of the “ALL parts” wording of Rule #2 that has me somewhat confused.
FIRST used the example of at team with a spare robot that was made during the 6 week build period. FIRST ruled that this robot could be used as source of legal robot parts at the 2nd & 3rd competitions, even if it was not shipped to the 1st regional on Feb. 19th.
For me this seems to be a somewhat tricky rule to follow.
Suppose that a team brings their practice robot (made in time to make the parts legal as spares) to their second regional. Are they then obligated to ship this spare robot to the 3rd competition? If so, teams are going to have to think hard about whether or not to bring the robot to the 2nd competition at all. If they didn’t bring it to the 2nd competition, they could practice with it for the 5 weeks or more that they would be without their robot between their last regional and the Championships. If they DO bring it to the 2nd regional, then they have to ship it to Florida right from their 2nd regional.
Is this how others read the rules?
It is possible that FIRST only ment to have “ALL parts” in rule #2 mean that teams had to ship a complete robot to the next competiton and that they could not take parts off the robot to bring home with them for repair. In this case, the issue of when a part that you bring from home becomes included in the “ALL parts” that must be shipped to the next regional is less critical.
I don’t mean to be too much of a laywer or anything but this ruling has some critical implications (and not just for teams with a second robot).
Suppose a team breaks there gearbox for their gizmo at Regional #1. Suppose that they work like anything to make a new one but don’t quite get finished before Midnight on the Wednesday following. Being a gracious professionalism type team, they stop working on their gearbox. This team now has a difficult choice.
If they bring it to Regional #2, they had better be sure that they can finish it without any more serious machining required because once it is at a regional it becomes part of “ALL parts” that have to be shipped directly to the Championships.
If they DON’T bring it to the Regional #2, they get from the end of Regional #2 until the following Wednesday Midnight to finish the part BUT… … there is a risk. Not only do they do without their gizmo at Regional #2, but the part might not QUITE fit or might need some other adjustments that they will not discover until they hold it up their machine, which won’t be until EPCOT!
It seems to me that this is an odd choice to make teams make.
I advocate that the rules be amended to replace the words “ALL parts” with “Your complete robot and operator interface” A “complete robot” being defined as all the parts (in all configurations) that were weighed in at the inspection at the beginning of the competition.
Finally, the true lawyers among us have already noticed a loophole or two. Is a spare robot in a trailer in the parking lot really “AT” a competition? If a part was “at” a competition on Saturday morning necessarily still “at” a competition at 3:00pm when the shipping of “ALL parts” must take place? Etc.
My Bottom line: I think that FIRST should make their intentions clear and appeal to gracious professionalism for enforcement.
As always, your thoughts are welcome…
P.S. The Chief Delphi Team does not really have a dog in the fight by the way as we don’t have a second robot and we have no intention of breaking Seriously though, this rule should be as clear as possible so that everyone will have the same interpretation and that everyone can plan accordingly.