Dangerous precedent set by Q&A 461: Loaning Parts/Assemblies to other teams

Glad this thread got started. It seems clear to me that the intent of the rule clarification (which is what Q&A is supposed to be) is to prevent teams from building game solutions that are simply passed on to teams in order to specifically help the “giving” team.

The worst case example of this would be a “giving” team providing a mechanism to a team for a match and then taking that component back after that match so that it could be provided to the next alliance partner of the “giving” team.

If a team is helping other teams in general - in such a way that the “giving” team is not benefiting any more than any other at the event, I don’t think there would be any specific problem. Helping a team build bumpers should still be fine. So should helping a team build a mechanism that they use going forward.

If a team is bringing a mechanism with the intent of only giving it to their alliance partner (or any other specific team) then there is a problem - for a host of reasons.

If you’ve brought a ramp (or any other mechanism) and are going to make it available to another team - it must be available to ALL teams.

  • Mr. Van
    Coach, Robodox

Who is to say what is a meaningful role?

We installed a 610-style ramp on 204, who has never won an event, which tripled the average point throughput of 1218. We had no weight left. 1218 had no weight left. The road to the victory would have been much more difficult without them. With that logic, I could attribute ~30 points per match to their efforts.

They thanked us immensely that they now have a season ahead of them–they had the whole elimination rounds to work on their pickup mechanism, so they can hopefully play a strong role on an alliance in the future.

Please go on.

While I think you broke down the Q/A correctly, it is indeed this part where the problem lies. In the past, teams were building complete assemblies and placing it on other robots. And that was considered all apart of the FIRST experience.

in 2011 it was minibots. I can’t even count how many minibots teams were using that they had no hand in fabricating.

In 2012 it was ramp manipulators, and stingers to help balance.

In 2013, it was Full court shooter blockers

In 2014, it was intake devices to get triple assists.

In all of these cases the receiving team had little to no involvement with the fabrication, but had involvement with the modification of their Robot. And I never saw a problem with this.

The Q/A makes it such that now, you can no longer accept anything that your team didn’t have a hand in fabricating, and whether or not Cory’s fears are realized, I am not sure if FIRST really wants this to be the case. It makes sense in theory, but not in practice, as most things do.

Come competition time, this rule will fall apart, and most past practices, whether correct or incorrect will take precedence.

I can’t count how many Robots I helped wired at competition, physically crimping/soldering, and programming. We would add connectors to our own COTS components (i.e motors / motor controllers) in our pits for that team, then go back to their pits and install it. I am not on their team, if the GDC says I can no longer do that, but must instead instruct their team members to do it, while it does make sense in theory, the job will never get done, and they will never compete.

What’s more important? The team completing their robot all on their own, or being able to see it in action with the help of other on the field. I personally think the latter. Accomplishments, no matter how small keep people interested.

GDC needs to revisit this in my book. Yes, you could take it to extremes, and while we all think we know what the GDC meant, it is not what they wrote. What they wrote is ALL items fabricated, where extreme or not, must be done by the sole team competing. And there lies the problem.

Just my two cents. This hurt the rookies more than anything.

In an attempt to limit a really small, specific set of behaviors, FIRST has effectively made it illegal to help other teams with mechanisms. I get it, FIRST doesn’t want it to be okay for Team B to bring in 20 pounds of parts that were always intended to be used by Team A (already at max withholding). But this is just the worst way to go about it. Cory’s concerns are valid and completely accurate. Saying “inspectors are rational” and “people will apply common sense” isn’t good enough. I’m not ready to bet my season on that. We need clear rules that err on the side of letting the teams play.

Chasing and distilling rulings to have such a remarkably narrow focus, because of small edge cases (practice robots in your trailer, teams trying to cheat the withholding allowance) is just hurting the teams that DO follow the rules. The cheaters are going to cheat regardless of what the rule is, but now on top of penalizing any team that has ever forgotten a robot part when initially unloading, they’re penalizing any team seeking help from another team at competition. I know the GDC has a tough job, and I understand how frustrating these edge cases must be, but these rulings hurt all of us in an ultimately futile attempt to stop the very few.

One thing to add, with the minibot example - FIRST made an award for lending out fabricated assemblies to other teams in 2011, and now it’s illegal. Not just “technically illegal” - clearly, unambiguously illegal. Think about that for a minute.

The only thing I am learning from this thread is the difference between who is arrogant enough to objectify their own interpretations and who is wise enough to question their own interpretations.


Heck, in 2011 you got bonus points for giving away your minibot! That’s how you won the Coopertition Award - you literally gave your minibot to other teams to use and get them points.

If they were wanting to change it, I wish they would have changed it to something specifying a maximum weight excluding items that are generally considered “COTS” parts (Batteries, motors, motor controllers, etc.). Say, for example, 5 pounds that can be given to any one team. It’s heavy enough that full assemblies like gearboxes can be shared, but there aren’t too many assemblies that are that light to be of strategic advantage if shared . But something along those lines.

Saw this at GKC this weekend where one of the finals teams --high team number–had exactly the same RC grabbers as one of the lead teams that chose them.

I don’t who ‘built’ them or where, but I assume they worked together. I sorta thought it was nice and helpful to the younger team.

So if the “old” team sends kids or mentors over to the pit of the “younger” team with COTS parts and the kids from that team ‘build’ it, I guess that’s okay, but not if the “old” team members actually do any work? There can’t be anything built to start with (except the exceptions listed) either?

This is going to be really hard to enforce. Because my team tries for Chairman’s by focusing on helping younger teams (No Robot Left Behind program), it will really limit the things we can provide for younger teams.

I can certainly see the reasoning behind this, but I’m pretty mixed on the answer.

That ‘younger’ team I saw at GKC is going to Champs because of this help.

I foresee many teams creating step by step instructions for can-burglars and ramps made from Cots. 1114 stated in a previous thread that they were prepared to make a second ramp entirely from COTs if their ramp was deemed illegal.* It would not have been very hard to include a member of 1547 in the build. If these rules are intended to teach the students of 3rd robot rather than just letting the more experienced team move in and modify the robot like magic I’m all for it. Anything to get students more involved and inspired is a good change in my book. Teams are com

*citation needed

I think this might be one of the most game-changing rule-changes/Q&A rulings since 2012 when they changed the definition of the bridge.

Our can-grabber was under 4 lbs fully built.

Do keep in mind the intent of the minibots in 2011. It was expressively permitted, and awarded, to share minibots in LogoMotion. Woodie made comments about a “minibot economy.” Beyond that, minibots were not necessarily even meant to be built by FRC teams. Tetrix parts were required for a reason, and they stressed that minibots were about integrating FRC and FTC together during kickoff.

The minibot was very much a distinct item from the rest of the robot in 2011. It wasn’t simply an “assembly.”

This is a very interesting problem. Q440 reversed some long standing precedents about what it meant to be a robot, and now this Q&A reverses precedents about how we can help other teams.

Currently I believe teams can build two robots and inspect which ever one they want prior to a match, but they can’t loan an assembled gearbox to another team. This isn’t the FRC I know and I don’t like the changes. Maybe all of this is part of this crazy year they are putting us through, but I sure hope it all goes back to normal next year.

I can only assume the answer Q461 is to prevent teams from installing super fast can burgler mechanisms on their 3rd/4th picks at champs. If it is to prevent ramps, it’s clearly an over correction.

Even for the can burgler mechanisms it doesn’t help that much. Champs elimination alliances have from 8:30am to 2:30pm to build a world class can burgler on their 3rd or 4th pick before they play on Einstein, that seems doable.

It was an hypothetical. Branch it any way you want. But no I don’t think using a third robot as a only ramp anchor and nothing else is inspiring. Not to suggest that any team has done or going to do that.

I suspect that the time you (hopefully we) get to Einstein the winning alliances are going to have to depend on all their robots functioning together.

Why is this against the spirit of FIRST? 118 has been team A several times in your above example, and in each and every case team B has been incredibly happy to work with us on improving their robot, many times expressing how inspirational the experience was. Sometimes this helps the team be more competitive in future events. (I remember leaving our mini-bot deploy system with a team who went on to use it at Worlds with much success.)

In fact FIRST encouraged this type of practice back in 2011. Since then I see this type of thing happening quite frequently, with varying degrees of how complex the added components may be. Every year we talk about what types of things we could do to help other robots in our alliance, or even the opponents when co-op points come into play. Ideas this year included devices which allow teams with no tote manipulation to be able to put yellow totes on the step, allowing for co-op bonus in matches where it may not have been possible. I think this type of thing adds another level of creativity and is very much in the spirit of “coopertition” that FIRST feels so strongly about.

This Q&A response really limits some creative things teams can do to work together to be more successful. This years rules allowing for tethered robots has maybe opened up how “drastic” this practice can be, but I’m still not sure it’s wrong, and the ruling is a disappointing precedent to set for future years.

Depending on the alliances on Einstein, it is entirely possible to not need a 3rd robot, because of how low the points ceiling is this year. You just have to look at 2011 Einstein to see this. You only had 2 robots scoring usually, and had the 3rd one playing defense, because there was a point of diminishing returns that was easily possible at that level. It will be the same thing this year. If you can grab the 4 cans, 2 robots should easily be able to hit the ceiling.

I predict there will be at least two (probably more) Einstein alliances that are able to score more points with two fully mobile robots than with three.

Why not work with them regardless of whether or not they are available as a pick?

This is what I believe the intent of the ruling is about. They want to discourage selective “helping” that only benefits the “giving” team. Now, having said that, it seems that the Q&A response has indeed driven this needle in with a sledge and that he ruling brings up the host of problems that Cory and others have pointed out.

As to why it is a problem for team X to bring a component that they have specifically fabricated for team Y, it effectively increases team Y’s witholding allowance as others have pointed out. It also seems to indicate that there are teams that the “givers” find worthy of helping and those who are not.

Regardless, I hope this gets cleared up FAST. I think the Q&A answer most definitely throws out the baby with the bathwater.

  • Mr. Van
    Coach, Robodox