Field Damage/Safety Issues

At the end of last match we were advised that our team was now on a
“Watch List” for damaging the field in FLR match 68.

After investigating a bit further what we found was that our PVC “hand”,
made of 1" Capped Schedule 80, was able to pentrate the grating of the
robocoach station. While pulling back to disengage, the hand was caught
on the grating and our 4 CIM drive was enough to pull the grating out from
it’s welds, although there is some doubt that it was actually welded.

It appears that this grating is 1.5 x 1.5 inch steel mesh. This has an open area
of about 2.25 square inches. Rule <R04> raises a flag for projections with
areas under 1 inch and we easily exceed this with the CAP on our PVC.
However, we are smaller than the 2.25 square inch opening in the grate,
which by the way, we cannot find on the specs for the field.

Like most teams, we take great care to meet all rules. However, it seems
that the 2008 field design is not exactly complementary to <R04>. It seems
to me that if grating is relied upon, the openings should be smaller than the
smallest allowed projection.

Furthermore, this contact occurred in the bumper zone. It seems that the
bumper zones on the field, especially those on the crash wall (otherwise
known as the robo-coach station) should be plate. Additionally, it seems
that since there are students behind the robocoach station, the grate should
actually be the support for a polycarbonate plate. There is, I think, a bit
of a safety hazard in the present design of the Robotcoach stations which
IMHO should be more like the driver stations and offer better protection from
both robots and flying parts.

While we did get a few laughs over the prospects of becoming known as
the yellow impaler, this is perhaps a potential safety area that should be
looked at. We are having trouble finding fault with our design. If 1.5 x 1.5
steel grate is going to be used for protection, <R04> should require that
no part of the robot be able to pass through the opening in the grate.
At the very minimum, a piece of this grate ought to be used during
inspection to flag teams (and Robocoaches) of the potential hazard.