FRC Design Masterpieces

I had an interesting discussion with some people today about robots that people would consider “design masterpieces”, or as the judges would say, “elegance in form and function”. The most obvious thing that came to my mind was 971’s 2016 robot, with the snakelike mechanism that would seemingly endlessly fold and never miss its target. What are some of the design masterpieces that all you people have seen throughout your FIRST career?


On the topic of 971, their 2015 robot is easily the most satisfying robot to see in action, especially when stacking and placing totes.


176’s robot this year fits this description perfectly! At NE DCMP it was just a joy to watch their arm and wrist move perfectly in sync with their fast and coordinated driving. All the joints on their robot were so well controlled and useful. Their autos were also flawless.


Take a look at the last minute or so of Milstein Finals 2… 2 dead robots and 176 were playing solo - standing behind the driver station it was unbelievable to watch


971 most years, but 2018 is a stand-out for me, which inspired quite a few teams this year


Which was derived from the 971 2018 robot. 971 has a few years of masterpieces that have impacted the modern robot design meta.

I’m a big fan of the 1114 2013 and 2015 robots. Both were incredibly unique and effective and seemed like perfect designs in their respective architectures.


971’s 2016 robot was easily their best and most miraculous.


1114’s 2015 robot is a work of art.


Cant believe noone said 254 2018, such a masterful design and drive team, never has there been a more efficient and dominant robot (including 71 2002)

Edit: Thanks to @saikiranra for pointing out my error in the origins of 254’s 2018 intake credit goes to 1323.


IIRC, that intake originated from 1323.


Beatty 2002


that cube must not have had a good day to be in intake jail

another robot that just came to my head was 71 in 2002. that thing broke the meta, won matches all by itself, and was still really sleek-looking at the end of the day.


I will always bring up FRC2826 Wave Robotics 2015 Robot Reveal: Depthcharge - YouTube

It was quite domininat in 2015 getting all the way to Einstein and I believe would have won if their alliance partner didn’t bump them in auto


469 2010 is the perfect mix between strategy and engineering


1323 2019 was so quick around the field and elegant to watch while scoring.


I feel obligated to mention the robot that sold me on FRC— 1717’s 2012 machine.

Seeing this machine up close at champs was both mindblowing and eye opening.


There’s just something about how meticulously that 2015 robot works that does it for me. It still doesn’t distract from how awesome that 2016 robot is though. Both deserve mention here, and just goes to show how consistent that team is from a creativity and innovation standpoint.

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254’s 2018 robot is awesome because the base design is so simple. There aren’t a ton of degrees of freedom or an elaborate handoff mechanism. It’s a design that many other top teams could have copied, but none of them could have perfected it to the extent that 254 did.

254’s 2014 robot is also really clean, and only lost 7 games that season.

1323’s 2023 is another robot that just looked amazing on the field.


Giving some of the 2nd decade a little love.
67 in 2005
703 in 2006 (not the best robot, but a very cool robot for that year)
1114 robot for 2008. Not the prettiest, but such a great robot compared to all others that year.
469 in 2010
67 was great in 2012 how versatile it functioned.
254 in 2014 was another standout IMO


Thanks, Ike! I was just thinking about that 2008 Galileo alliance.

At the St. Louis Regional in Week 1 that year, I saw an amazing drivetrain on the 148 robot. It went on to seed first and win the event, with 217 as their first pick. At the same event, I saw an amazing scoring mechanism on the 217 robot. It hadn’t reached full potential yet, but would do so at subsequent events: Detroit a couple of weeks later, and Great Lakes a couple of weeks after that. [Note: that was the final chapter of the Great Lakes Regional, which made way for MSC the following year at the same venue.]

At that point I thought both of those robots were great, for different and complementary reasons. But then I saw the 1114 robot, and THAT was a true masterpiece. Unbelievably, those three combined to win Galileo and Einstein. How does the Week 1 masterpiece become a Championship second pick? It happens because the game evolves over the course of a season – commonplace now, but a noteworthy milestone in FRC history back then.

We’ve become accustomed to watching robots that excel at one aspect of the game dominate at early events, while those that continuously improve to ultimately excel at another aspect of the same game dominate at later events. The 2008 Galileo alliance captured that idea, a perfect metaphor frozen in time, like a sculpture by Michelangelo. Seen together, that alliance was and remains a masterpiece.