[FIRST Inspire Blog] FIRST Robotics Competition Season Events Update

Posted on the FIRST Inspire Blog , 1/29/2021: https://www.firstinspires.org/community/inspire/first-robotics-competition-season-events-update

Dear FIRST ® Community,

Earlier this month, we kicked off the 30th season of FIRST ® Robotics Competition by revealing three new engineering, innovation, and design challenges that were created for a remote season with remote judging. They are part of our commitment to explore new and exciting ways to deliver our programs with your safety and wellbeing as our top priority, while ensuring all students can participate in meaningful ways.

As previously announced in September, we opened our 2021 FIRST Robotics Competition season registration without in-person INFINITE RECHARGESM game play, based on ongoing global health conditions that restrict our community’s ability to travel and attend large gatherings. Unfortunately, these COVID-19-related conditions in North America and throughout the world are statistically worse now than they were in September. Although vaccines are starting to be administered, widespread distribution prior to this summer will be constrained by supply. As a result, current conditions and anticipated near-term conditions do not warrant a change in our global plans regarding official in-person INFINITE RECHARGE game play this season.

Therefore, there will be no official in-person 2021 INFINITE RECHARGE game play events during the regular season, which ends in June. Where local conditions allow for safe gatherings, there may be unofficial in-person activities for FIRST Robotics Competition teams organized by local FIRST Program Delivery Partners. FIRST HQ anticipates very few unofficial activities, and is working with a small number of partners, primarily outside North America, on approvals for these activities. Read our FAQ for more about 2021 FIRST Robotics Competition Season Events.

FAQ: FIRST Robotics Competition Season Events

Over 3,000 FIRST Robotics Competition teams have registered to be part of this unique season, and we can’t wait to see what they accomplish with INFINITE RECHARGESM at Home, the Game Design Challenge, and the FIRST ® Innovation Challenge presented by Qualcomm. For those who are unable to join us this season, we understand and look forward to welcoming you back for the 2022 season.

We are all eager to get back on the field together and are hopeful that the COVID-19 pandemic will soon be behind us. Visit our COVID-19 impact page and subscribe to the FIRST Newsletter for the latest updates as we continue building on our FIRST® GAME CHANGERSSM powered by Star Wars: Force for Change season.

Your friends at FIRST HQ

FAQ:

What is an “official” FIRST Robotics Competition game play event?

Official FIRST Robotics Competition in-person game play occurs during regular season or FIRST Championship events that are planned and managed by Program Delivery Partners, centrally registered volunteers, and FIRST Headquarters. They are authorized as official events by FIRST, use regulation FIRST Robotics Competition fields, follow official rules, and present awards that are recognized in permanent team records at FIRST Headquarters. During a typical season, official regular season game play occurs during in-person district and regional events that teams compete in to qualify for FIRST Robotics Competition awards and advancement to the international FIRST Championship. There will be no official regular season in-person FIRST Robotics Competition game play events during the 2021 season ending in June.

How do you determine if/where unofficial activities can be held?

Restrictions related to the pandemic are dynamic and vary widely depending on country and regional impacts of COVID-19. Although we anticipate very few unofficial activities, FIRST Headquarters is working closely with Program Delivery Partners to assess local conditions and the viability for having any in-person activities. Stay tuned for more information from your local partner for any activities that may be planned in full compliance with local health guidelines.

Can off-season game play events be held after the official season concludes?

We have not ruled out the possibility of allowing unofficial, off-season events hosted later in the year.

Does this update affect the 2021 FIRST Championship?

We continue to evaluate the scale and viability of FIRST Championship events, including adjusting invitation and attendance criteria to allow for event scaling. After we have additional clarity on the scope and scale of FIRST Championship, we will communicate the qualification parameters for attending the event in the absence of official FIRST Robotics Competition game play. We will share more details on the FIRST Championship as they become available.

Does this update impact official FIRST ® Tech Challenge or FIRST ® LEGO® League events?

No. FIRST Tech Challenge and FIRST LEGO League teams will continue to register for events directly with their local Program Delivery Partner. While the vast majority of events are planned to be held remotely, the local Partner determines the format of the event, including some in-person or hybrid events if local conditions allow.

How does FIRST Robotics Competition remote judging work this season? Do you need judging help?

Yes! Volunteering looks different this season, but we still need you. FIRST Robotics Competition is looking for volunteers to serve as judges for the at-home challenges: Game Design Challenge, INFINITE RECHARGE at Home, and the FIRST Innovation Challenge presented by Qualcomm. While we do require that judges be at least 23 years old, no prior judging experience is necessary, and we will provide all the training necessary. Learn more about the 2021 FIRST Robotics Competition judging process on the FIRST Robotics Competition blog. View step-by-step instructions on registering as a volunteer.

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Shocking, just shocking :wink:

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Not unexpected, but still devastating for our seniors.

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Cant say im surprised

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I’m holding out hope for some offseason events in the fall. Who knows how things will be by then, but I guess I am usually an optimistic person.

I’m glad our group took the year off to reboot/reset and start something brand new for next season rather than bothering with this one. It’s a really good year to focus on the non-robotics things that seem to always be lower priority but can create a lasting impact on your team in the future if you are able to ever get around to doing them.

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Can’t say I’m surprised here, though it’s interesting that they didn’t call off the Championships quite yet. I guess they’re either holding out for things to go far better than currently expected or they have some sort of backup plan for a decentralized “championship” “event” that’s not ready yet?

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Infinite Recharge just keeps on going…

In Australia where we have 0 cases nationally in the last 7 days:
https://www.health.gov.au/news/health-alerts/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert/coronavirus-covid-19-current-situation-and-case-numbers

this is incredibly disappointing. Yes the season was already going to be different, and uncertain, but stopping everyone from playing because some/most can not is not right. Perhaps this indicates a plan to roll out infinite recharge yet again for 2022, which would be boring and stifle our students’ innovation and motivation.

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Likewise in a reboot year. We were fortunate and got to play the game one week before the world got Covid-clamped. We are hoping to use the year off for recruiting, prototyping and tech upgrades. We’ll be Back…

TW

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That’s really impressive. What was the strategy to get there? Hard lockdown?

Hard lockdown any time there is community transmission beyond a few people they can’t contact trace. Lots of contact tracing, testing and lockdown for anyone in contact for 14 days. Forced hotel quarantine for 14 days on international arrivals with testing.

95% of people follow rules around distancing, masks, when required (and there are fines if in a community space without one - eg public transport, supermarkets). Churches and community groups have been willing to shut down / hold services remotely when required to ensure the prevention of community spread.

States have put in place borders with other states to protect their own communities / economies which has been painful, but probably helped to prevent interstate spread when there is a limited outbreak.

The lockdowns are painful, but living in freedom is worth every penny saved to peoples lives and the economy. Some restrictions are for the common good, and I think most people in Australia see that based on the level of community compliance.

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If I was to guess it has more to do with setting expectations for the rest of the season. This ranges from “when are official events” to the expectations on what “championship” would be this season, assuming it occurs. There was a regional event in Taiwan (?) not that long ago even if it was an “off-season” event for 2020.

I wouldn’t be surprised if regions with COVID under control had similar events but without the expectation of “advancement” to a 2021 World Championship.

If the situation stays the same in Australia, you may qualify for the “unofficial activities” in the FAQ. Here’s hoping for you.

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Last time I spoke to FIRST Australia they were committed to holding face-to-face events, even if unofficial and under the banner of Duel Down Under. If things continue to remain stable, or start to improve once vaccinations arrive, I expect that they will go through with this.

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We hope to do the same here in Hawaii as unofficial events.
The trailers that hold the 2020 Infinite Recharge Field elements are still here in Hawaii. FIRST has not taken it back yet, which they have done before. Our 2020 Hawaii WFFA trophy and banner is still in one of those trailers somewhere. >.<

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We have no doubts they will. With the situation as stable as it is here, we were of course hoping that FIRST would give countries and regions (that have the ability to do so safely) the opportunity to provide ‘real’ competition events, just like they tried their hardest to at the start of competition season in 2020.

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Boo

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Keep us (NZ) and Taiwan up to date with Australia in person event happenings. All 3 countries are effectively at zero and barring any more screw ups hopefully stay that way.

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Take a second to imagine how very difficult it was to write that announcement. Not only do their jobs depend on all this, the entire reason for being is in jeopardy. Nobody like this, but humans are not, at the moment, in charge of all this. Give the vaccine a chance to start its magic (yay science!) and we humans will probably survive. (Yes, it’s a nonzero chance we will not. Scary Stuff).

My expectation is that the folks in Manchester will eat their emotions away here and they will all be 300 pounds come May.

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I suspect The Foundry as being a more likely place. And 350 lb.

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“Unofficial” events are a possibility, right? I think a nation that keeps the spread in check deserves a field and carpet!

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