I’m curious as to how this intake kit is the same as the kitbot release. Really, because the last FRC game that didn’t require robots being able to drive was probably before I was even born. How that is akin to a COTS kit that would’ve been useful 7 years ago and this season only? It’s disingenuous to claim that this is the same as all the other kits released in past seasons, and I’d appreciate an explanation on that thinking.
The idea that this raises the competitive floor is wildly out of touch, and the real reason why I am hesitant to embrace such a well designed thing of beauty.
No team at the bottom tier of FRC, that currently can’t score in the game, will be able to afford this kit, or even the elevator (though that’s not really the main issue - not too different from the other lift kits on the market). I say this from personal experience, because that kind of team absolutely does not have $400 to spend on a subsystem. I will go so far to say that even teams with some sort of scoring mechanisms that were built from limited available parts and resources won’t be able to afford this. These teams suffer from a lack of mentorship and a lack of money both of which are the real issues to the actual competition floor that these kind of parts fail to address.
No, the teams that would actually benefit are the mid tier teams, that have decent sized budgets, and a number of semi-experienced mentors. They will have gone through the entire strategize, prototype, design, and build process, and developed their own mechanisms using rather substantial resources. These mechanisms will work rather well, and be quite inspiring to the students that slaved away to build something that they are extremely proud of.
And then they go to competition, and play against a team who decided the time saved and the better quality of a commercial kit would be more competitive than the old process. Team A will lose against Team B, who took that time saved and put it towards drive practice and programming. Are the students of Team A still inspired? No, why should they be? They took the old fashioned way and got beat, so the students will elect to skip the whole engineering process and just buy the $@#$@#$@#$@# kit when it releases for next year’s game.
Ultimately, this is nothing like the gearboxes of past years or the kitbot or the omniwheels or any other COTS part(s) released in the past. Take a look at them and tell me how many are game specific. It can be argued that those previous parts made things previously available to select teams with manufacturing capability available to all, but that was a true leveling of the playing field - those components could be used with any game at all. Gearboxes can be used in any FRC game. The kitbot can be used in any FRC game. Can these roller intakes be used in every game? No, they were designed for cube intake and as much as they are adjustable, that is dangerously game specific part design.
A specific kit like these do not raise the competitive floor; they only serve push the mid tier teams closer to the elites while pushing the lower tier teams even further away from the rest of the pack. I firmly believe things like the Everybot or Kitbot on Steroids are the right way to fix the inherent issues holding down the competitive floor, not pay to play. Mitigate lack of mentorship and resources through the former, and we will actually see the entire field of play rise.