Dominant robots that knew their limits

I want to gather a list of robots from the current and past competitions that had big limitations, but were dominant forces or key contributors to the success of the alliances they joined anyway. I’m hoping to present this list to my team to show that we can build competitive robots even if we can only do a few things well.

An example from this year could be 2910’s robot, which has won 3 events and is currently ranked #1 at PNW districts despite not being able to reach above level 1:

An example from a past competition could be 148’s 2008 world champion robot, which could basically do one thing and one thing only: drive.


While I can’t tell you we were a dominating force, we are currently the third highest cargo cycler in Indiana for 2019 (according to Caleb Sykes’ database). This is coming from a team that last year was just happy to break the streak of not getting picked for elims. Black Ice has been a major success for 1646, and an important milestone in our journey.

Many people see the top teams and think, “Wow, they can do everything great”. They want to be like them. However, they often can only choose one of the two, “everything” or “great”. Often, it’s not the latter.

Build Simple, Bag Early, Get Milkshakes


1503 in 2011 comes to mind. Simple robot conceptually, no floor pickup, played on Einstein.


I think 1011 from 2017 is a good example. First pick in their division at Worlds, could do gears and climb, nothing with fuel and went all the way to Festival of Champs.

A bit of bias but I’d say 1241’s 2016 robot, Black Mamba, is also a good example. Could not go under the low bar, could not climb, but man could that thing shoot boulders.

There’s simple strategically and also simple by execution. 330 is a team that keeps their robots very simple, 2056 is another. Elegance in design is one of my favorite parts about FRC. You don’t need to do everything to be successful, you just need to do what you do well!


I’ll just keep adding people as I think of them.

4272 from 2018 was a good example of a solid low robot. Used pistons to pivot their arm.


I’m not sure I’d have any examples as compelling as 2910, who are ignoring a large portion of the game. Certainly there are robots every year that are dominant despite not doing everything. The example of 1503 in 2011 (already mentioned above) is the best I can think of, because they decided not to do something everybody could do that year, and they were still elite.

There were also a number of elite cyclers in 2013 who couldn’t pick up discs from the ground, couldn’t full-court shoot, and couldn’t climb above the first level (three things almost all elite teams could do at least one of), but were still extremely successful to the point of winning CMP.

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2052 does this better than any team in Minnesota. They build simple robots that are within their resources and do it better than anybody else in the state. They also have a habit of beating us in the finals…

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25 in 2012 was pretty much a belt with a shooter on top and a flashlight that had a lucky break to be able to do wheelies to drop the bridge. Super simple first pick world champion

For Israel this year, that is definitely 4338. After on-and-off playoff appearances since 2012 and not making DCMP last year, they made an extremely dominant robot this year. They can do cargo and hatch panels in the cargo ship and low rocket, and have a consistent rack-and-pinion HAB 3 climber. This year they’ve won a district event as alliance 2 captains, been district finalists as alliance 1 captains, and they just won DCMP as alliance 4 captains. In my mind they are certainly the best low-only robot in Israel this year


2655 (Flying Platypi) in FNC, both last year, when they made it all the way to Einstein in Houston and this year when they’re the #1 seed going into DCMP. Both times they have stuck to being a low bot (a switch and portal bot last year, a climbing and low hatch/cargo bot this year) and been extremely successful.


In 2010, 469 was dominant despite their inability or unwillingness to go through the tunnels or over the bumps. They seldom if ever left midfield. They also lacked the ability to climb, which was almost unique among gamebreaker-cycle-bots. Most of the others I know of (51, 125, 2337) had the ability to climb, but at least one (2992) did not.

610 is 2013. Cycle discs via mechanical alignment, level 1 climb.

They did pretty okay that year.

Most forget (or simply didn’t know) that 610 full court shot in the elimination matches at the Championship.

Unwilling. They could and did cross the bumps, when they needed to. Usually to refill the cycle.

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3946 Tiger Robotics’ 2015 Recycle Rush robot is probably a good example.

It had a manipulator that could lift both crates and Recycle Bins, but only one at a time, and so could build stacks, slowly, bottom up. They were however able to move crates around fairly fast. So 3946 was picked on an alliance with 3039 and 3937, who both had robots that could build fast top-down stacks.

The goal for 3946, was simply to get to the center of the field, and get the additional recycle bin for 3039 and 3937 to build an additional stack, and it managed to help bring them to win at Bayou that year!

They never went over bumps until IRI. They started cycles from the midfield.

A third robot winning an event is not a “dominant robot”


I’d add 3173 for their 2013 full court frisbee shooter.

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I would like to nominate 7457 suPURDUEper Robotics from Indiana this year. Their entire superstructure is stationary so they can only place hatches on level 1 and can only recieve cargo from the loading station but are able to climb to level 3. They have no capabilities to complete a rocket but as a rookie team have captained both of their alliances to two blue banners and are ranked first in the Indiana District by a margin of 40 points before the District Championship. Very simple bot but also very deadly.


Basing this off of my personal experiences, I’d say 340 in 2017. By far the quickest, most efficient gear cycler I saw, but could not manipulate fuel at all.