Is it possible to use polyethylene planks for bumpers instead of pool noodles?

See title


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Not under 2022 robot rules; they call for wood.

I wouldn’t mind HQ investigating ways to make bumpers easier on teams without making it its own arms race, though.


I think he’s thinking instead of the noodles.

Answer: The annual “buy your pool noodles” announcement went out this week. So no.

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[](https://Foam plank for bumper replacement)

we were thinking about replacing the pool noodles with these “planks” cut in to 2.5 by5 inch wide pool noodles. To replace the smaller round noodles. They are slightly more stiff than regular noodles but we have been experimenting with creating holes/channels in the back to create more “give” on contact. Thank you for you ideas and input.

The rules are remarkably specific in this area. From R408C from 2022…

use a stacked pair of approximately 2½ in. (nominal, ~63mm) round, petal, or hex “pool
noodles” (solid or hollow) as the BUMPER cushion material

If you want to cut the foam into a pair of “rods” with round, petal, or hex cross-section, such that they resemble pool noodles, you will probably be fine. If you just want a 2.5 x 5 slab of foam, it would not comply with the rules. This particular portion of the rules has possibly never changed since its introduction, so it is unlikely that anything will be different in 2023.

While you idea seems sound and is likely an improvement over what the rules require, that has never been a reason to allow a deviation.

You could attempt to get the 2023 rules changed through submitting a Q&A question on this topic after kickoff but I’d say the chances of a change are slim to none.

Possible? Yes
Rule-compliant? Unlikely.

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Years ago, we had a “what is tape” conundrum, when tape was outlawed on Robots. The answer was, if the packaging described it as tape, it was tape.

Is a foam plank sold as a “pool noodle”? If not, it’s not a noodle, and wouldn’t be considered legal in current rules.


I would say not legal by the current rules - it’s not a pool noodle, it’s a plank that your cutting up to resemble a noodle.

At 54”x16”, you could reasonably get 6 54” long “noodles” out of it, at a cost of $70. For $75 at Amazon, you can get a pack of 35 actual pool noodles that are 55” long. (Note: the product description reads 2.5” diameter, even though one of the pictures shows an actual measurement of 2.375” - that’s about par for the course for 2.5” pool noodles!)

35 > 6, I’ll take the cheaper, definitely legal option.


So if you buy a 2.375" noodle that not labeled “2.5”, just “pool noodle”. Is it legal? Lets use the 2022 rules since they are published. What if they were labelled “2.25” pool noodle", but really were 2.375" would they be legal? How would a team know when the GDC provides their typical non-anwser? IE

We cannot rule absolutely on hypothetical ROBOT designs, and the final decision as to legality of a particular ROBOT lies with the Lead ROBOT Inspector (LRI) ateach event.

This is a reason why bumpers are hard.

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Definitely agreed… pool noodles may be plentiful (in some areas and in some seasons), but they aren’t standardized or toleranced very well, which can lead to plenty of confusion!

I don’t think the Q&A is a good place for those sorts of requests. In general, the only time that works is if there’s some ambiguity or conflict in the rules.

My suggestion would be to develop the rule change, develop some custom bumpers using what you consider and develop a good argument for why the rule change is a good idea. Get the CD community to agree that it’s a really good idea. The make the suggestion to FIRST in like May of next year – that gives them plenty of time to consider it for the upcoming season. You can’t offer that in mid-October – it’s just too late.

Note that part of the idea of the current bumper rules is to make bumpers easy by using readily-available materials. FIRST wants standard easy bumpers – they’re not looking for innovation there.

Not necessarily required. And I would actually say that you don’t want the CD community, you want to see what the local teams who have trouble with bumpers say, or teams at one of your local offseasons.

Then when you have some feedback, submit it. Test some more.

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Sure. Not necessary. But, FIRST likely get hundreds of requests for rule changes every year, so one that’s well-presented, well-researched, has the backing of the ‘community’ (however you define that), and presented at the most opportune time, is the one that’s most likely to rise to the top of their attention. The goal is to minimize the friction for them to make the rule change a no-brainer. Just asking in a Q&A “Can we just do foam instead of pool noodles” is literally the opposite of all of those – it is not well-presented, provides no research, has no evidence of community backing, and is offered at just the worst time.

And, IIRC, has been done before, answer “nope see rules”.

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