Idea: Bring back detached elements

Those of us who came to FRC in the modern era came to a game that has long outlawed detached robot elements. What if a game came about that utilized them with a few restraints?

What comes to mind is an optional team-built element that could act as a tool to help out a robot or alliance. No electronics on board, and probably some size and weight restrictions. (Make it easy on inspectors, put another set of notches on the robot sizing box like they did for 2007 and drop the bar down.) Teams could place these elements as they wished, provided they weren’t touching the robot (though grabbing on or mating up would be permitted) and subject to game-specific restrictions (no blocking an opponent’s corner goal in Aim High, for example).

Some imagined uses in past FRC games:

-2006 (Aim High): Perhaps one of the most epic plays of the year was the A-Bomb, where a floor-only 195 dumped their load into the intake roller of shooter 968. Teams might opt to build their own external hopper to trigger their own A-Bombs independent of an alliance partner and without having to wait for human players to load them up. The more successful teams would figure out how to make it so that only their robot could reach the balls within.

-2007 (Rack 'N Roll): Many teams built deployable ramps for their partners to climb onto for the end-of-match bonus. A team that could devise an unpowered system that folded up small enough to fit in some mythical size requirement (and particularly if the wedge rules remained in force until the end-game) would have a significant advantage in weight to use elsewhere.

Alternatively, a team might’ve chosen a more useful way of loading their robot with tubes. Many teams chose the least-common-denominator (the floor), to the point that the slots on the corners of the field were rarely used. (I didn’t see a team use them until BattleCry that year.) Perhaps some team would devise a killer widget for lining their tubes up for a quick grab.

-2005 (Triple Play): Probably wouldn’t have been a factor in the match, but I bet a fair number of teams would consider a mobile platform in anticipation of stacks going higher than they’d normally design an arm for.

-2004 (FIRST Frenzy: Raising the Bar): A particularly ambitious team might choose to build a catcher for the ball dumps, actuated by an autonomous nudge or grab. If the team figured out how to funnel that catch into the ball chutes at the corners of the field, they’d blow out of the water many of the teams whose catching strategies faltered at that crucial final step. (I remember 21 struggled with that very issue throughout the Palmetto Regional that year, though the sheer audacity of the idea in a year where we were effectively a window-motor-drive box on wheels that might uncap the mobile goal made it one of the robots that hooked me on FRC.)

I think it could add an interesting element to the right game. Am I nuts?

In a word? Yes … but thats what we like about you :wink:

And I love the idea … but how about wirelessly transmit CANbus information to ‘remote’ rovers?

I like the idea, but in some years there would have to be so many caveats to the detachment allowances that it probably just isn’t worth it to make so many rules. For instance in 2007, an alliance could probably have detached enough ‘stuff’ in their own homezone to make it extremely difficult for their opponents to get one of the tubes lying against the wall. The same goes for setting something up to get tubes from the slot, but to a much lesser extent.

Even in a year where it would seem like a simple addition to the rules, there’s still the issue of people tripping over small robot parts duing field reset, teams using detachments for defense, etc. I think one of the only ways to do it without making the game more hazardous or boring to watch is to put zones for each alliance that allow the detachments but disallow the opponent robots. Hmm, maybe I haven’t let my imagination run with the idea enough yet.

Theis rule was put into place due to a number of specific robots over the first few years of FIRST. Most of these detachable parts were more defensive than offensive. This included devices to block off goals and the eponymous “landmine”. Similarly, several teams devised devices to score objects on goals that would prevent others from scoring there. Imagine if in 2005 Beaty capped a goal with two tetras, then placed a square cage over top of it. Read more about detaching game objects by Andy “The Original Yellow Human Player” Grady here.

If the Powers That Be decide to bring back detaching objects, it should be done only with great caution. It seems that the more recent games have been pushing for more offensive robots, leading me to believe that future games would include elements that encourage teams to score points and to not descore or block scoring (teams like it when their robot gets to do what it is designed to do, not get pushed around by the mythical “box-on-wheels”). From history, we see that teams often use detaching objects for defensive purposes.

The only way I can easily see this happening is if the game was designed around detaching objects or there were a whole list of “don’ts” in the rule book. For 2k6, I could see a rule not allowing you to block the side/high goals, and perhaps a rule barring you from placing a large object on the opponent’s ramp.

Despite all this, I’ve secretly wanted this rule to disappear with little to no fanfare for years (dare I say best typo ever?). Imagine Beaty surprising everyone at their first regional when their ramps fall in auto, detach and they drive off. Even better, they drop off THREE ramps. :yikes: