Had a bizarre idea for your consideration: would you participate in a open-to-anyone outdoor version of the FRC game over the summer?
I was trying to think of ways to create a low cost, somewhat low effort opportunity to get more play time in the off season. Off season events take a ton of resources to pull off, especially around the facility and the field. But what if you played outside on a tennis court?
• No field walls, spectators and drivers would be outside of the fence during play (field perimeter may be different size)
• Only some easy to move game elements (wouldn't do things like the 2020 hangars)
• Likely no auto due to difficultly of exactly placing field elements
• Open to anyone: I think it'd be fun to build a bot in my garage with some friends
• Open control system, wouldn't restrict use to only roborio/FRC legal components to allow cheaper robots to be made
• Same bumper rules required
Downsides I thought of so far
• Rain would cancel meetups
• Safety needs to be thought through
• Playing on concrete instead of carpet
• No auto
• Refs and scoring would need to be thought through
Obviously this is a bit of a half baked idea, but what do you think? How would you do this?
As a mentor on a team that has run robots at outdoor fairs, heat would also be an issue.
Also, not sure who this fixes the resources requirements. Even without the field walls/elements you to do matches you would still need the FMS/Cheesy’s version, the ability to provide enough power too all of the teams and all the volunteers to run the event.
That said (ignoring the risk of rain for a second) doing on offseason event outside would be an interesting experiment, as so many football stadiums are going open top these days.
It sounds like an interesting idea, but I would be curious as to the full extent of change from a regular indoor event, as well as how the outdoor environment would affect the systems managing the game.
I see that the point would to have it on a more manageable scale to lower the access barriers for different parties
Fwiw, the 2021 R2OC event in Illinois was held in an outdoor pavilion, albeit a covered one. I wasn’t able to make it that year but from what I heard it went well other than the July heat being a bit uncomfortable.
In Brazil, we held a tournament almost outdoors. It took place at Marina da Glória in Rio de Janeiro by the seaside. In August, the heat doesn’t punish us as much, but it was still warm. The main challenge regarding the open area was the sunset sun, as it started to obstruct the pilots’ vision on one side of the court, but we managed to work around it as much as possible. Here’s a sample of how the event unfolded.
Yeah my team a while back had an experience at an off season competition where our robots 3D printed parts actually just straight up melted due to the heat. it was a little unfortunate as well because (if i remember the stories correctly) we had a chance of doing quite well at that competition. But other than that yes, the outdoor competition was quite enjoyable from what i’ve been told
Certain locations will work better for this than others. It will really help to find a place with predictably dry weather when the event is scheduled. Like here in the PNW (or at least Seattle area), it doesn’t rain much at all and usually doesn’t get TOO hot July-August. If you could find a way to add shade to an outdoor sport court (& just use normal sun shade tents for pits), it could work pretty well I think.
Bunnybots uses 4x4s attached with pieces of aluminum as the field boundary. It’s pretty flexible, definitely not as rigid as an FRC field perimeter, but from experience it is very easy to set up. I’ve been to every Bunnybots since 2016 and I don’t remember any robot escapes. The whole thing is run without FMS and is designed to be easy to set up, though in a game with automated scoring I could imagine difficulty. The full description of the outdoor game is here: BunnyBots2021 - Google Docs
Back in Covid Times, we did some practices in the parking lot of a nearby city park. The main issues were keeping in the shade so that targeting vision worked and tire wear (Colsons ok, others not so much). Also the only electricity available came from my truck’s inverter.
I would be concerned about common FRC wheels tearing up a rubber tennis court surface.
Conversely, if you run on concrete, standard FRC wheels tend to get torn up pretty fast.
Fencing as a field boundary poses a potential entanglement hazard for anything outside the frame perimeter of the robot (arms, intakes, etc).
Effectively eliminates all optical-based sensors (since ambient lighting would never be consistent)
Introduces the possibility of electrical shorting due to condensation (in high-humidity environments)
None of these items are impossible to overcome, but I would think the cost of “ruggedizing” an FRC-style robot would be non-insignificant. That said, if you designed a robot for a competition like this from the ground up, it could lead to some interesting designs. For that matter, you could even look at competing directly on grass, or other unimproved surfaces if you wanted to (you’d basically have to design a robot that was “sealed” and used more off-road tires). Could be neat.
We’ve operated our robot at our downtown fair and had a great time. The ice cream shop opposite our booth was glad to let us charge. The only casualty was a burned out brushless motor on our intake. You can bet that we’ll monitor motor temperature next year!
I think an outdoor competition would pose interesting challenges. As long as we can protect the people and machinery, and keep the competition fair, why not? For maximum fun, we could end the day with a picnic.
It would be important to keep the cost down. Is used carpet ever available?