FIRST Q&A Cop Out?

I read this on the Q&A today

Q. Would a passive device applying force to multiple sides of the 2x2 angle on the bridge to partially/fully support robot weight violate [G10] if it didn’t actively clamp/grasp/attach to the angle, so that at match end the robot can be lifted off the bridge w/out actuating/releasing any mechanism(s)?
A. The purpose of this forum is to answer questions about rules, not to perform design reviews for legality.

This is an extremely valid question that needs an answer. What is FIRST’s definition of grasp, attach, or grapple? I thought the question was asked perfectly, and it could have major implications on a number of overall robot designs. FIRST should not constantly use the “We do not do design reviews” answer. While in some cases the answer may be warranted, in many cases, the best way to clearly express a question is in a form which explains a design of a particular element. This is a design competition, if you can’t answer a question of legality of a design element, then you should not be able to tell a team that uses a design that falls within a grey area of a certain rule that they cannot use a robot. If you leave a rule open to interpretation because you don’t want to do a “design review” then you must be prepared to allow a team’s interpretation of the rule, flat out.

Am I wrong here? This is not the first time I have seen an answer in this year’s Q&A that made me completely frustrated.

Andy, we agree 100% with you. We had been following that question and were very disappointed with the answer. Coupled with the slow rate of answers this essentially makes the Q&A process useless.

I have looked at some of the answers and there are a few with that response and I was like ??? That helps the team and first world none. Thanks for your help GDC??? I completely agree with you, If they wont tell us what they say is illegal how can they latter say its illegal at the competition.

You took the words right out of my mouth Andy…

Extremely disappointed.

Completely agree Andy.

Perhaps if we paid $599 we could get a five month extended Q&A support plan. If for any reason they do not answer four of the same type of question, we could get our money back. Think about it, that is only 12% of the original $5,000 registration cost and will pay for itself over and over. Don’t worry, if there is not a FRC location near you, you can get service anywhere in the US and the support plan is fully transferable.

On a more serious note:

I wonder if the post would have stated “Would a passive device applying force to multiple sides of the 2x2 angle on the bridge to partially/fully support robot weight violate [G10] if it didn’t actively clamp/grasp/attach to the angle.” Leaving out the last part if the question would be answered since it does no talk as much about “design”.

New Question to ask. Why wont you answer our questions, and define some unclear definitions?


Read the intent of the rules and build an awesome robot anyway.

That is to say, it’s your responsibility to make sure that what you’re doing is definitely legal.

The A half of the FRC Q&A this year leaves a lot to be desired.

Answers are very slow at coming, and are often more vague in content and definite positions than a politician running for election.

If I may make a comparison, the Vex Q and A (answered by Karthik) is exceptionally well run. It always gives clear concise answers and generally links to specific rules even if the question has been asked repeatedly or is covered in the rulebook. FIRST is by comparison frequently rude and unhelpful. This specific question which FIRST decided to ignore is potentially critical to determining if a three robot balance becomes the equivalent of a Suspention in 2010: Nearly impossible and not worth the time when you could just score more balls and balance two instead.

I have seen “*The purpose of this forum is to answer questions about the Game rules, not to perform design reviews for legality.” *used several times in response to legitimate questions which I and I’m sure many others would sincerly like to know the answers to.

Very frustrating
Regards, Bryan

So, what form(s) of action are we taking? Sending emails? Posting the same questions over and over again on the forums? If we have legitimate questions and they are not answered, then we need to do something about it. This could potentially prevent a student from an engineering experience that’s supposed to be brought about by FIRST, and therefore make the student feel less impacted by the program than he/she should have been.

Ok I’ll play your game…

Rule G10 states:

Robots may not grab, grasp, grapple, or attach to any Arena structure. Robots may not push or react against the top of the Fender. (Robots may push or react against any element of the Arena that is not protected by another rule.)
Violation: Foul

Ok, I dont feel like the robot is grabbing, grasping, or attaching as it could slide off if someone moves the ramp the wrong way, but you can certainly say its pushing on two surfaces of the ramp…so it’s legal, right? I’ll tell ya this much, I would not be confident enough in my interpretation to try the design, but I can see plenty of teams doing it and not getting outlawed if I don’t!

How about intent? The fact that they want 3 robots on a ramp would tell me that it’s FIRST’s intent for you to be creative in finding ways to make it happen. The fact that FIRST says supported by the bridge and not TOP OF the bridge could tell me that they don’t necessarily mean you have to just drive up there.

What’s wrong with asking for a little clarification so we don’t HAVE to try to interpret/lawyer rules?

No sigh is necessary…

…and the Q&A is the method we’re presented to verify that what we’re doing is legal.

I always thought the GDC’s policy should be:
Don’t send us specific designs but we may request specific designs for clarity.

I understand the GDC can’t comment on everyone’s design, and they would swamped if they allowed design submissions. However, there are a small subset of good Q&A questions that warrant a design review IMHO. From my experience reading the Q&A, I only see about a half dozen/year that could use a design review. Based on their history of outside-the-box design, I think WPI 190 deserves the honor of a design review every year :smiley:

I’ve bounced the idea around some as well, and fall on the side of it not being legal by comparing it to a grappling hook, sure its smaller, but very very similar.

But yes, I share your concerns in regards to the response being unacceptable, as they’ll just be making the judgement at a regional anyway, why not answer now.

To tie into this…by not answering now, they are leaving the door open for different interpretations on an event to event basis. To me, that is simply the worst possible outcome for a rule interpretation.


Last year we asked a the same question (whether it was legal to feed tubes over the alliance wall to our robot) twice on the Q and A and never received an answer. At regionals passing tubes over the wall was legal and at nationals it was illegal. Never did the Q and A ever clarify the rules. I think it is very interesting this year that we can see all of the questions asked on the Q and A that are not answered. It really annoys me when we have to guess whether or not something will be considered legal or not.