I know that tomorrow is ship date and this message is likely to go unheeded for at least that long, but this is an idea that has been bouncing around in the back of my mind for a while now and it is coming out now…
I have not really been on a team for 3 seasons now – perhaps 4 depending on how you count things. From the outside looking in, I seems to me that FIRST has become an Arms Race of sorts, every year there are more and more teams with more and more motors devoted to their drive system with grippier and grippier treads.
There are a number of reasons for this trend.
[li]FIRST game designs have encouraged pushing matches.[/li][li]Too many motors have been introduced to the kit [/li][li]The FIRST KOP transmissions have encouraged 2 Motors per side (4 motor drives)[/li][li]It has become easier and easier to implement multimotor drive systems with very grippy tires [/ul]From an individual team’s point of view, I can understand why teams make the choices they make. When everyone has 2 motors per side and custom made tires with super grippy tread, you have to do something extra to get an advantage, so, you put 3 or 4 motors per side and you go with even wider, grippier tires. [/li]
BUT… …from FIRST’s point of view, I think this is bad situation.
[li]It is harder on the field elements[/li][li]It is harder on the other robots[/li][li]It makes teams do a lot of extra work just to keep up, for limited competitive value and almost no inspirational value.[/li][li]It is no fun to watch (imho)[/ul]So, I think that something should be done about this situation.[/li]
[li]Re-think the motors in the KOP – 6 motors in the 1996 KOP may have been a bit thin, but clearly 17 in the 2007 KOP is excessive .[/li][li]Limit Power to Drive system by[LIST=1][/li][li]limiting the fusing used to supply current to the drive motors. There are several variations on this idea[LIST=1][/li][li]No more than 120Amps total[/li][li]No more than 40Amps to drive any wheel (this would only allow 40Amp per side if you had a single chain drive all wheels per side but if you had a motor for each wheel and you had 4WD, then you could potentially ahve 80Amps per side)[/ol][/li][li]Intruducing a feature the the Victors that reports current back to master CPU. Have master CPU limit drive current. [/li][li]Rate each motor for power and just put a limit on the power per wheel or the power for the total drive system (similar to limits on current via rated breaker amperage only limiting via rated motor power)[/li][li]Require that only unmodified (and relatively slippery) wheels of brand X be used for all robot drive systems[/LIST][/li][li]Make a simple test rig from simple pulleys, PVC pipe and dead weights that can test the pulling and pushing force developed by a robot. Limit robots pushing and pulling forces to something like 50lbs.[/LIST]There are pros and cons to all the ideas. I think 2.4 would probably limit creativity too severely. From a limiting damage to the field and other robots point of view I think I prefer #3 but from an ease of implementatoin point of veiw I like 2.1 or 2.3. The more I think about 2.2 the more fun we could have with the idea (read note ). But it would require significant work by FIRST & IFI so I think it may be DOA.[/li]
Think about these ideas and add your own. Perhaps this is just a solution for a problem that doesn’t exist.
As always, comments are welcome.
 This year we have a record 17 motor in the kit with a total peak power of over 3000W
li 2.5" CIM @ 330W[/li]li FP @ 380W[/li]li 3" CIM @ 270W[/li]li BB @ 100W[/li]li Globe @ 50W[/li]li Keyang @ 20W[/li]li Denso @ 20W[/li]li Mabuchi @ 15W (not sure if this is in the 07KOP but it is listed in the tips page)[/ul]As a point of reference, the 1996 KOP had 2 Drill motors, 4 seat motors, and a pneumatic pump with a total peak power of close to 500W (I am going from my memory so I may be slightly off).[/li]
 IFI sells great traction wheels, AndyMark sell great shifting transmissions and wheels and planetary gearboxes, BB and others sell great planetary gearboxes, the Nothing But Dewalt Whitepaper has made shifting CIM transmission extremely common even for rookie teams, etc.
 I say this as one with unclean hands. Over the years, I have played a key role in getting the following motors in the KOP:
[li]Delphi Window motor[/li][li]ITT Window motor[/li][li]Delphi Power Sliding Door motor[/li][li]Bosch Power Sliding Door motor[/li][li]Bosch Drill motor[/li][li]Globe Transfer Case motor[/li][li]Keyang Seat motor[/li][li]Johnson motor[/li][li]Mabuchi motor[/li][li]Taigene Power Sliding Door motor[/li][li]Fisher Price Power Wheels motor[/li][li]Chiaphua (aka Atwood) motor[/li][li]2.5" CIM motor[/li][*]Banebots motor[/ul] Perhaps this would even allow a new game twist that might make games more dramatic. During a match, each robot would have a “Energy Meter” shown on the big screen. When a robot is out of Energy, it doesn’t move any more or it moves in “limp mode” where it can move but only very slowly. Perhaps robots could do things to get more energy for their robot or perhaps could win more energy for their alliance (e.g. score a tube on the high rung and you get an extra 10,000 Joules) Could be fun.