How would you structure the no bag rules for 2020?

After watching Karthik’s Effective FIRST Strategies presentation, one thing he mentioned got me thinking. He said that depending on how the rules were worded, he could envision top teams having a “championship” robot that they would hold in reserve throughout the main regional/district competitions that they would bring to Worlds with all of their upgrades pre-installed and tested without all of the wear and tear. I’m not saying this would necessarily be good or bad, but it got me thinking about how you might word the rules for next year for the in FRC.

Some options(not necessarily separate ideas, just some thoughts):

  • One competition robot: Teams must compete with one robot throughout the competition season. This one suffers from the Ship of Theseus problem, how do you define a robot? See Team 558 in 2017.
  • Restrict the amount of robot/fabricated assemblies you can bring to a particular competition. At competitions you must weigh your robot and all fabricated assemblies and they must come in under 155lb total. This seems like a logical rule to use.
  • Don’t change anything(other than removing the bag and tag), let 2020 be a test year and just adjust the rules for future games from there.
  • With how big of a change this is, hopefully they release a Game Manual part 1(like in FTC) before kickoff so that teams will be aware of the general robot rules ahead of time.

What do you all think?

One aside, I will miss the robot reveal videos dropping right after bag day, I expect there won’t be many of those until just before/after Worlds.


This is the biggest thing they can do, since much will be different.

Like you, I don’t see how FIRST can police “one robot” across events. 155 pounds through the door would certainly be one avenue to keep a lid on “one robot” at one event.

I think most teams concerned about this situation would be able to get away with two robots, in the reasonably astute observer sense of the word. Do your first-event robot, make the upgrades on the second robot, tear down the first robot to whatever level of detail, use that as the basis to build up the Championship robot. Unless you’re making Einstein-harpoon-tier changes, that should suffice.


Personally, I think that the no bag is a terrible idea.
Look at FTC, they are open to change their robot as much as they like between competitions.
What ends up happening?
One team creates the quickest cycle robot with the most innovative mechanism and every single team that wants to win flocks to completely transform their designs into this amazing robot. It completely eliminates all creativity and makes everything dull and boring, because you’re just seeing the same thing over and over again.
The pros of having no bag is the fact that you don’t need a practice bot anymore which is a great idea.
I think that they need to limit the changes made to a robot after a period of time. I don’t know how they can do it, but I really hope it’s done.


It’s not clear to me that there’s a compelling reason to have a “one robot throughout the season” rule. Why not let teams iterate as much as they want, including building an entirely new robot?

I think taking this year’s set of rules and removing just those that require the robot to be bagged and tagged leaves a viable set of rules. C5, R5, and I3 still limit the team to a single robot within the course of an event, so a team couldn’t swap between robots as fast as they could get inspections done (as done famously by 1519 in 2008).

That said, without the 155lb rule you propose it’s somewhat of a gray area and up to the mythical “reasonably astute observer” where the limit is regarding getting reinspected after changing mechanisms versus having two distinct robots at the event. On the other hand, it’s become relatively commonplace for teams to pack spare assemblies in their bags as backups, and going down to 30lbs of backup fabricated assemblies could be a significant design constraint, especially if there’s heavy defense again.


I wouldn’t change anything, and I’d even open it up so that teams can use parts made before the season, as long as they have released the CAD if it’s an entirely original mechanism or if it’s a simple modification to a COTS part. (Such as cutting down the kitbot plates or removing the stand of a camera to install a mount.) If a team really wants to spend the money on building a whole other robot to have it sit there the whole season until an event that they may not end up at, I say let them.

I agree that FIRST needs to release a redacted version of the robot rules before the season. They won’t even need to blank out that much.

You’re overestimating the ability of FRC teams (even the top ones) to retool their entire robot in the limited time between seeing a good robot and their next competition. In FRC, teams have less time and more complex robots to build compared to FTC.

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One reason that concerns me is the idea of design convergence. Now, design convergence by itself is not necessarily bad; the current level of copying inspires students to work to improve their robots and learn from other teams throughout the season. But I think one of the things that is super cool about FIRST is how creative teams can get with the designs, and seeing completely different robots complete on the field. I would hate to see the celebration of the best teams at the end of the year to have many carbon copy robots and mechanisms.

Another reason that this is problematic is that top teams (and to a lesser extent, all teams) might be less willing to explain their designs because of worry of copies. I’d hate to hear “we’ll explain details at the end of the season” when I ask people about their robots. We have heard from at least a few top teams that they may not produce reveal videos next year, which is disappointing because reveal videos are a super inspirational part of FIRST IMO (the reasons for this may be different from the copying reason).

Note that these are more worries that I think should be considered, not things that I think will certainly be true.


I really don’t see a point of limiting teams from iterating as much as they want.

Look at 254 this season. Their robot changed DRASTICALLY between when it got bagged to when it finished the season.

The ball mech changed completely. The hatch mech was new. They removed their climb and replaced it with a suction climb. It changed so much, AND that was with the 30 lbs allowance rule and the bag rule.

Now I’m not trying to bag on them. What they did was great and impressive. 649 did similar things with bringing spares and redesigning a lot regarding hatches and other systems through the season.

My point is this. It’s going to happen regardless, and it’s already not a problem.


And another component of all this is that they are given 30lbs withholding for every event they attend (correct me if I’m wrong). Teams competing at a bunch of events already can ‘theoretically’ add the weight of an entire new robot over the season, it’s just a couple thousand dollars for each set of thirty pounds.

I would say you are underestimating it, if today huge changes are made in just one competition day, I’m sure some teams will bring a different bot to every competition, not that it is a bad thing but it will happen.

Well first already doesn’t really police the current system. I don’t think that should be what stops something we already operate off the honor system.

I personally don’t think teams should be allowed to just sub in different robots even across events. One of the main points of getting rid of bag was the huge advantage oitgave to teams who could build 2 bots. To allow teams that same benefit, even if it may be to a lesser degree, seems to be a step backwards.


Whether or not it’s a terrible idea, it’s coming. So we’ll just have to deal with it. Knowing that they HAVEN’T said how they’re going to handle stuff like withholding, spares, etc, that’s the area we get to work within.

If you defined “robot” right (as in using an at-the-time obsolete definition as the one that year was particularly unclear), it was one robot with two chassis components each with different capabilities. (The obsolete definition, from back when robots fell apart a lot, was that anything attached to the Robot Controller was the robot. The definition that year was “anything that has passed inspection that the team places on the field”.) If the bumpers hadn’t been off a bit, they’d have had one robot.


All right, back on topic.

Given: Build time limited by when teams have to leave for their events.
Given: No restrictions on when/how teams build until said limit.
ASSUME: At event, teams must leave their robots at the event–this to equalize things a little bit at the event, make things easier for long-travel teams.*
GOAL: Ensure that teams are even at competition as far as items brought in, extra robots, etc.
GIVEN: Any rule that requires compliance at the team’s shop is considered unenforceable.

IXX: All robots and robot parts must arrive during load-in periods, or if a team misses their load-in period, they must bring their robot and any spare FABRICATED parts at the same time. COTS parts and Raw Materials** may be brought in at any time. [Reason: Compliance with any other rules, and also to make it a little bit easier to enforce.]
IXY: Teams may only bring one Robot to each competition. [Reason: prevent second robots]
IXZ: Teams attending multiple competitions must have all of their inspection stickers from previous competitions still attached to the robot on arrival. [Reason: prevent using multiple competition robots]
NOTICE: In the event that the part the inspection sticker(s) is attached to is replaced between events, teams must relocate the sticker, document said relocation, and show the LRI.*** If the sticker is transferred to a second robot, the LRI will notify HQ, but no further action will be taken in the 2020 season. [This part is to allow teams to make changes involving that piece–tracked, but without repercussion. This part of the rule may be addressed for 2021 and beyond.]
IXZ: Teams may bring in: Their robot, its bumpers, and up to 100 lb of parts not attached to the robot, not counting COTS and Raw Materials. [limit the amount of spares just a little bit…Numbers subject to change]

Essentially, the goal is to encourage teams to only bring one robot to all their events, and to finish it at home rather than assembling at the event, without penalizing teams that have to finish building at the event.

*This is a current rule–I do see that becoming softened somewhat, say for charging batteries at home and the like.
**Raw Materials is defined as: any as-purchased item that is not a finished part. Raw Materials may be cut for transport without losing their Raw Material status.
***It would be helpful, for this particular case, if Inspection was supplied with a camera to document placement of the stickers/overall robot. Sticker placed, photo sent to HQ after matches one night via the field, drop the photos into LRI-access storage for later events.


IXZ: What if warranty voiding stickers are used? The ones that self-destruct (or mark themselves as VOID) when removed? I know that at least some types of such can be cheated (Old MS Windows COA badges come to mind), but that would make such more enforcable?

Otherwise I see teams going to events with different LRI’s (and RI’s) moving the stickers to another robot and such not being the wiser to such. Hopefully we don’t get crafty teams making counterfeit labels (Hologram lables? :open_mouth:).

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I’ll throw this against the wall and see what sticks.

I suppose you could be forced to take a picture/video of your robot on " bag picture day".

That’s the robot you have to bring to the competition. Any changes would have to be done at the competition like it’s done now. After the competition, you take new pictures of the robot in case you have another comp to go to.

This wouldn’t be all that hard to police either. Give specific shots of the robot in the manual (even rules like removing panels if someone tries building a black box). Minor non-mechanism changes could be allowed (change controllers, clean up wires, etc). You wouldn’t be able to take pictures of a roller then show up with a claw.

This would allow teams to practice. Heck, this would still allow teams to build a claw, practice with it, reinstall the roller, then bring the claw to the comp as their 30lbs limit.

Teams could still somewhat copy other teams (which arguably could be done before). You just wouldn’t be able to copy a whole nother robot.

Personally, I can’t wait to build a kitbot then figure out which reveal vid bot to put on top. /s


One way to police the one robot rule that minimizes the Ship of Theseus problem is to make the frame/chassis the unit of basis for the robot. This is already what we do with things like cars and motorcycles (where the VIN number is attached to the chassis) and could work for us. The chassis you bring to your first competition is the one you use for the rest of the season, period. It would have to be tagged in some way that identifies it as the original, but that’s a solvable problem. This rule keeps rich/large teams from simply building multiple robots and swapping out after incorporating modifications from the ground up, instead of having to adapt them to the existing robot structure. Yes, they would still have an advantage (which I don’t think we’ll ever eliminate) at building modifications, but it would keep them on a more level playing field with the poorer/smaller teams. Combine that with the 155lb. through the door rule and I think you have something that will achieve the goal of better equity between teams that was the stated goal of FIRST in doing away with bagging.


When we are discussing changes like this, sometimes it’s good to take a step back and ask ourselves why the change is needed.

What does it matter if a team makes two robots and brings different ones to different competitions?

Personally that seems like a lot of work for little gain, but why should I try to restrict that behavior?

At the end of the day, we all want to play against and have the opportunity to beat the best robots in the world, and I don’t see the issue with people changing their robots between competitions.

At this point I’m for rules to restrict the use of multiple robots at a single competition, but those rules are already in place.


I agree with the end of this post, most teams won’t be able to completely start over on their robot just like that. I think not having a bag day will be a great thing to help with teams that didn’t have enough driver practice this year, and help them combat that without having to sacrifice out of bag time

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I’ll second this. The fewer rules the better!

Let’s get rid of the BOM too :slight_smile:



Which piece of the kit chassis, do you put the sticker on? There are 6 main frame members, which are bolted together…

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I don’t totally hate the idea of the robot frame staying constant, but our robots differ greatly from cars.

With cars, the chassis is welded together, and generally once that is compromised beyond repair the entire car is scrapped.

With our robots, the frame is 4-8 (the latter if it’s an open front and rear) elements bolted together so they can be unbolted for service. So what do we tag? One plate? Four? Eight? That’s not to say there is no answer, but there’s more to it than cars.

Wear and tear is real. A completely fresh robot, shaken down in the leisurely confines of one’s home shop, could be a significant advantage. But then, most teams don’t get their robot shaken down the first time.

Personally, I don’t think it’s an issue until you’re one of the teams high up these lists and 150-ish-through-the-door is enough to ensure you only bring one robot to the event (which I do think is an issue). But I’m game to run through the scenarios to ensure we don’t miss something. :slight_smile:

But teams already build 2+ robots, so I’m not seeing the extra work.

One thing I’m interested in is that we get 6 weeks for the “build” season. There’s another 6+ weeks for the competitions. Not ideal for building a whole new bot that you haven’t had practice with, but lots of room for pretty much any change.

Again, that will come down to team resources.