Calling all Lawyers... ...Define "all parts"

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:

  1. 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.

  2. All parts at Nth Competition have to be shipped directly to (N+1)th Competition (N=1,2)

  3. Teams can make whatever changes/improvement they wish during a competition AT the competition

  4. Teams can make replacement parts between the end of a competition and Wednesday Midnight following a competition.

  5. 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).

For example:
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…

Joe J.

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 :wink: Seriously though, this rule should be as clear as possible so that everyone will have the same interpretation and that everyone can plan accordingly.

What FIRST wanted with the rule is to make sure teams needing new parts after an intense regional get to make new parts afterward.

And the spirit of the rule is to make sure teams use whatever they make within the legal building time.

At the beginning, I thought FIRST was enforcing the rule by telling teams they HAVE to ship everything with the robot so everything is made within 6 weeks. Turns out the question asking about this rule was about “may we ship tools after the shipping date?”, and FIRST said that they won’t know if it’s really tools in the later crate or not, so they won’t allow it. This seems to imply teams HAVE to ship everything with the robot…

HOWEVER, at a later question, FIRST said that teams can keep a spare robot to practice, and that “gracious professionalism” is key. So really, FIRST is trusting teams to follow rules.

So, with that, I am sure FIRST AREN’T enforcing teams to ship EVERYTHING with the crate to a second event or a third one, according to the ruling of allowing teams to keep a practice robot and still use it.

Now, about shipping the whole robot and taking parts home after a regional… How can FIRST decide whether a team is taking home a part, or almost the whole robot? If you are just taking home the drive train, and put the rest into the crate, is that really the whole robot? Where do we draw the line between parts and a full robot?

Besides, FIRST will never really check if you brought a part to a regional or not, nor could they verify if a part is made within the legal building time or not. We can find all the loop holes we want, but the bottom line is, do we feel we are following the rule or not. There is a fine line between following rules and breaking the rules.

As long as you are truly using parts made during legal building time, then you don’t have to worry about it.

If you are keeping the spare robot after the regional and completely rework it all week long and got a champion robot out of that, then it’s probably not ok. If you are shipping a full robot, but you got so much spare parts that you can put together another robot, and you go home and improve it during the 3~4 days, and it become a champion robot, then that’s just the same as taking the robot home with you…

Bottom line is, FIRST wouldn’t have ways to know if you stop Wednesday night or not anyway.

So, I don’t think teams really need to stress themselves about having to ship parts away after a regional. Take your time after the regional to finish the gearbox or whatever parts it is, and take it to Florida with you. You could always make half the component after the first regional, and the rest after the second regional, and bring both to Florida.

It is nice that you’ve taken the position of telling teams not to worry, Ken, but I think that some other participants may take a more legalistic view of this rule.

That is why I would like to have discussion about this rule.

What do other teams think this set of rules means?

It would be nice to get an official clarification from FIRST, but at this point, I think the offices of FIRST are empty. We are more or less stuck noodling this out for ourselves.

Anybody else have thoughts?

Joe J.

I really hope than in the spirit of this competition that if you have made spares in the legal time period that they should be legal to be used on your robot regardless of the whole shipping crate thing. Some teams have 2 crates some have one. I will tell you that since we only have 1 crate there were a few spare parts that were made and used in the 6 weeks that had to be taken out of the crate because of weight on the dock (came in at 710lbs) so these are in my opinion ‘legal’ parts we have pictures of the parts on our robot but since we didn’t have a second crate we couldn’t ship them. I wouldn’t feel like I am cheating anyone simply because we don’t have 2 crates. The ruling may be hardlined saying I am way wrong but I feel in the ‘spirit’ of FIRST we have complied and stopped working on parts since the ship date. I have to believe there are others like me out there who either have or will have legitimate parts that just are not in the ‘crate’

O.k. Lawyer Joe (or is it Joe Johnson, PLC Attorney at Law),

What about this scenario.

Team makes 2 robots simultaneously ( a production line) and runs the prototype robot to test stuff out. Oh no, gearbox A fails and we need to do a redesign. Design done, new parts made for both robots, both robots replaced (week 4). test prototype more, find out theory for gearbox B is flawed (don’t say “I told you so … CVT”), but main robot has already shipped (with both gearbox A and B on board). We modify gearbox B on prototype and make tooling to aid in creation of gearbox B revision 2 at competition.

Team wants to bring the prototype robot to competition, but will fabricate changes for the competition robot at the competition. Is the tooling legal to use in order to aid in fabrication?

What happens if the gearbox gets destroyed at the competition and we need the spare that we brought with us? (I think this is illegal, by the way)

Also, I did not interpret the rules like you did. We plan on bringing our spare robot home.

This situation is not hypothetical … it is real. Every situation described in this post is what happened to us. How are we with respect to the rules?


As to fixtures and/or tooling:

These are 100% legal. You can make anything you want when ever you want if its function is just to help you MAKE parts at a competition. What you can’t make are parts for your robots except during the 6 week build period, at a regional, and after a regional until midnight Wednesday.

As to using the spare transmission that was improved during a banned period:

This part is very clearly an illegal part. You cannot use it on your robot and remain within the rules (at least how I read them).

As to bringing your spare robot home:

This depends on what FIRST means by “ALL parts” A strict reading tells me you have to ship it to the next competion. But… …I sort of think this rule has not really been well thought out by FIRST, so I am thinking that perhaps, if FIRST really thought about it, they would say you could take it home with you.

Court is adjourned…

Joe J.


You are right that the rules are not stated perfectly clearly. However, my interpretation would be that it would be ridiculous to make each regional into a spare parts “black hole”. How can we expect people to bring another robot worth of spares to the regional and then have to ship them all from there?

If FIRST comes out with a clear ruling stating that I am wrong, then we will comply. Otherwise, I am sticking with my interpretation until officially told otherwise.

BTW, read the FIRST message board again carefully about whether or not you have to wait until the 2nd regional to bring your spare robot parts. It does not say anything about waiting for the 2nd competition and in fact implies that you could use them in the 1st regional as long as they were built within the 6 week build period. I think it was message #767 and there was another one (#77x) that followed.

FIRST really needs help writing rules.
I just wish they would hire someone who knows how to right the rules clearly in the manuals and updates and use examples to illustrate them. I am an avid golfer and believe me, golf has more rules than any other sport. And many amateur golfers like to loosely interpret the rules; so books have been created that clearly illustrate each rule with examples. That’s what we need in the future so we don’t have to act like lawyers.

And why did they have to choose the word “partnered” to describe what teams can be chosen during the team selection process? Couldn’t they have simply said whether or not a seeded team could pick another seeded team??

I’m done ranting.

From the FRC_Tech board:

Message 771:

A) From team update 6 and message 767, You will have to ship all the spare parts after the 6 weeks build period, to make sure teams stop building after the time limit. For the first regional your team attend, you may not bring any spare parts you build after 6-weeks.

Message 864:

In previous years some teams have built two identical robots during the six week build period. One for the competition, and one for practice before and after their events. Is keeping a second robot solely for practice purposes legal?

A) Yes that would be legal, be sure to ship the operator interface for this year’s robot with the robot.

If keeping a practice robot is legal, then it could very easily be used to replace broken components on the competition robot. Is this legal?

A) You may use any parts from this robot for spares as long as they were built within the 6 week build and design period or within a couple of days after each event your team competes in.

My interpretation of the rules is that you have to ship all spare parts with your robot (message 771)… unless you use them on a spare robot (message 864). If you use them on a spare robot they must only be built during legal build periods???

We forgot to include a part in our crate that was build legally during the six weeks. It’s a simple piece of polycarbonate with the biggest problem being that we put a crease in it using a break. Yes we could reproduce it at the regional and functionally it would be equivalent, but it will not look nearly as nice. Had we built a spare robot, it seems we could use it on that spare robot and then bring it, for use at our first regional, but since we don’t have a spare robot, using it is against the rules.

I’m not one for breaking rules, but this seems ludicrous. Does anyone object to all teams getting the same privelage as teams who built spare robots, in that a team can use any spare part as long as it was build during the legal build period?

I began this thread with the words, “I know I am opening up a can of worms here but…”

Then this message just sat on the shelf gathering dust!

At last we are getting to the heart of the matter: The rules as stated are contradictory at best and silly if interpreted strictly.

What are we as a FIRST community to make of such rules?

THAT is why I am still …Calling all lawyers…

Joe J.

I think the reason why people stop talking about this because this isn’t going to change whatever they decided to do after shipping.

Teams will follow the rule the way they understand it. And since FIRST isn’t going to enforce this rule, there are not much to argue because everyone get to do it their own way.

It’s been a long time since shipping, and competition started already. Teams who built a second robot during 6 weeks are probably going to take it to regional… Teams who didn’t ship the spare parts with the robot is probably going to take it to competition too. And, at competition, teams are probably going to ship their competition robot to the next regional, take whatever spare parts they need working on back home to finish working, and leave other finished spare parts in the crate with the robot. But some will follow the rule strictly and ship everything to the next event.

So… What can teams do about this if they feel they are violating rules? Well, when you get to an event, you should talk to FIRST staff and ask them specifically what should be shipped away, and what shouldn’t. Even though ruling at each regional might not be the same, you are still following rulings from FIRST staff at your paticular regional.

All these issues will probably be brought up again at team forums after National… But before that, I don’t think teams want to or really going to worry about it too much.

Another question:

How would you interpret the rules in regards to repairs? say, for example, that the treads on our wheels were to come off the wheels (it has happened before). Since the epoxy we would use to do so takes 24 hours to dry, would it be legal to take the wheels home, re-attach the treads to the wheels before the spare parts deadline, then take them to our next regional?