Is Shipping the Robot to Champs Required?

If you read the whole post, you would have seen that this is FIRST trying to be fair to everybody. In this case, by inflicting shipping pain on everybody going to one event.

You know why you can bring your robot to a district event in a bag? Because literally everybody else in the district also shows up in a bag.

At regionals that isn’t quite the case. There’s usually still a couple of “crate teams” at any given regional, though they might be “suitcase teams” instead. Teams get creative. These are a bit of a minority, and they know what they’re signing up for.

At Championship (particularly Houston), half the teams at least are “crate teams”. Once you cross that threshold, is it more fair to make everybody bring their robots or make everybody ship their robots? (Looking towards the future: if the bag disappears, what’s going to prevent a team that has to ship from having a disadvantage compared to a team that doesn’t have to ship?)

I feel as though the crates are to be fair to everyone. Since most teams still send a trailer with their pit it seems that they could also get their robot to CMP without the crate. There was also an issue a number of years back when the PNW rented a large trailer or something to that extent that did not have a lift on the back. The staff in STL did not want to let them use the loading dock without a massive fee because it was part of a union.

Some people may have the resources to drive the robot themselves and some may not, so they make everybody ship their robot in a crate to be fair.

Can’t you just ship the crate back empty?
I thought that’s what we did but I am not the person that handles that for the team.

Lol, that happened with us last year but it was just me there to get it in the truck. We have a non-standard dock that is too low to load directly on. Had to fashion a make-shift lever system using some chair carts to get the thing into the truck. The FedEx guy was not happy helping me.

Nope. You have to fill out a “return exemption” form in order to be allowed to carry your robot out of the venue… if you do that, you have to take your crate home as well! It specifically has you acknowledge on the form:

I understand that by submitting this form we agree to either remove our shipping crate from the venue or pay $150 to have it destroyed.

The shipping donation is for robots only. Teams may not ship a crate that does not contain a robot.

this isnt the point of the argument.
Fair? in what respect? Its not cost or an individual team’s circumstances such as attending another event immediately after champs.

Easy for you to say when you drive to most/all regional events you attend.

I would love to see something official from FIRST on the subject. Does the for Frank Answers Fridays still work? I haven’t seen that feature in a while…

The crate shipping system guarantees that the ONE thing that EVERYBODY has, and everybody requires, will arrive in the right pit. (I’d include “intact”, but one of 294’s mentors showed us that this can’t be 100% guaranteed.)

I have to believe that FIRST has done a lot of negotiating on our behalf. I have friends whose work has them present at industry conventions in large convention halls like the ones we use for championships. Standard practice is you can’t carry ANYTHING to your booth. Roll up with a PC or a box of literature in the trunk of your car? You have to call for facility staff to carry or cart it over for you. Even if you’re just inside the door! (Often, if they catch you, they can file a grievance and your company could be hit with a penalty charge.) We’re not bound by that. Beyond the robot, we cart in our own pit equipment.

But some things are just not negotiable. Loading docks may be one of them. Some of us have coaches or mentors who are experienced and adept at getting a box truck or even a pickup truck lined up and close to the edge of a dock. Others are not, and the hazards that creates can be physically and financially dangerous. It’s easy for the venues (and their contracted labor staffs) to dig in on that safety issue.

As equipment transport goes, I cannot say enough in favor of the FRC-standard plastic tote. They go everywhere. Trucks, cars, under buses, even between the seats of a van in a pinch. Keep them under 50 pounds, and they can be checked on airlines, and hand-carried into pits and hotels or wherever else. Our entire pit structure (with banners!) breaks down into two such totes. If we didn’t have our crate-shell shelves, we could design shelves that would break down into totes as well.

In the respect that EVERYBODY has to ship. I did not specify that it was fair at non-CMP events. I did not specify that it was equally fair at Champs (witness the complaints about having to ship the robot from teams that are really close).

(On that last line: I understand you guys have a hard time. Trust me, I specialize in doing load-in inspection on crates at L.A., and there’s a lot of creativity there in transporting the robots, assembling them, and competing. The point I was trying to make is that that’s something where you can–to some extent–plan ahead to make that trek easier as far as the robot.)

If we’re looking for “equally easy to transport” as the measure of “fair” then having everybody ship would not be in the discussion, VEX/FTC-scale robots would be. :wink:

You could like, go to districts in MN, then your state championship would be before the two half-championahips.

The bag disappearing is, quite frankly, a whole other can of worms. I don’t foresee FIRST doing it in the very near future, because it’s a huge paradigm shift regarding the nature of the build season itself. To ship or not to ship is small potatoes compared to that.

As it stands right now, there is no disadvantage/advantage situation re shipping or arriving with your bagged robot at a championship. However, there’s a significant disadvantage to teams who need to ship to regionals ($$$). I’m lucky to be in FiM—our furthest district event was MSC and it was about 2.5 hours away by car. International teams and teams far from regionals need shipping credits way more than teams with under 5 hour drives. It’s harder for us to build a crate last minute than it is for us to roll up with our regular 'ol bagged robot. I’d way rather donate that credit to a team that wants to ship some pit supplies or a tool chest.

I think the opt-out (like for the drive train) mentioned above is an excellent idea. Especially since FiM sends the most teams to champs, and the arrival of Detroit champs means that FiM teams have a short drive. I think a lot of us would love to donate our credits, which would be close to 100 far away teams that could get a free ship to regionals or another champs crate.

There is nothing inherently fair or not fair about getting your robot and pit to champs. It just is. Granted it is an uneven playing field. Teams from a distance are going to have to spend more to get their stuff to worlds. International teams can’t ship their batteries and have to beg or borrow them. I suspect the requirement to ship the robot has more to do with the nature of the FedEx donation and First’s contracts with Shepards (the freight forwarder) and the Venue. Adding a robot to our pit doesn’t materially increase the stuff we bring in. As other’s have mentioned, it is a major concession at some venues not to have all the pits handled by event staff.

We would gladly donate our shipping vouchers to another team and bring our robot with the pit.

If it was truly “fair” everyone would be limited to a certain volume and a small number of batteries.