New FTC Platform

Well, I have been really excited about the growth of the vex platform. In particular, I think the new WiFi control system is going to allow some amazing designs. However, I now see this about the new FTC platform:


This looks pretty cool. New metal, new brain, aluminum gears. Should make for some interesting machines.

This is a partial confirmation of what I suspected was going on. Notice that there is no mention of IFI. Seams this confirms the split. I believe NI did the development work for LEGO this explains the thread on NI this past fall. Now the question is do you do a VEX competition or a FTC competition?

Color me perplexed that FIRST would announce something as major as a platform change for one of their competitions on a Blogger account that I can’t find linked to anywhere on The information presented seems to jive with everything we’ve been hearing through the grapevine (and heck, the guy in the video is doing a pull-up on a field-spec overpass), but I’m holding out a little bit longer to be certain. (Can someone more familiar with the building confirm whether that paint scheme on the wall is seen in FIRST Place?)

Whichever better inspires your team. In my mind, either can be a viable option.

I think a main concern for teams is the cost of the new kit. A lot of teams poured money into VEX thinking it will last them a long time. Now that a new kit is the platform for FTC, many smaller teams will not be able to afford enough parts. Since FIRST is working with several providers for the parts rather than IFI Robotics, I think it shows that it would cost a great deal more than the $300 VEX starter kit.

Another concern is the use of machining and powertools. VEX was great because you could build your entire competition bot with a wrench and two allen keys (which I did), and can still be extremely competitive. If the new platform requires a lot of machining like in FRC, this will put teams without access to the proper tools at a huge disadvantage.

Another thing I’d like to point out is the time issue. Many students do FTC rather than FRC because it is a lot less time consuming. This is an especially big factor for seniors. With VEX I’ve always said you can build a competitive robot in one day (and I’ve proved this). If this new kit is a lot more time consuming, many teams will choose not to do it.

There are my three points about the new platform. Of course, I don’t know anything about the new platform I just based this on

“We’re making the change to give our teams the raw material they need to solve real robotics challenges that exist today. The new kit is a true robotics prototyping platform. It includes a variety of components from sensors, to motors, to metal, that represent current technology.”

One thing I have to point out. I love the aluminum gears as well as the extremely powerful aluminum.

As of now both IFI and FTC Competitions look appealing.

Wow, I never even considered the idea that this could be a hoax. If it is, its got to be the best hoax I’ve ever seen XD

I’ve just noticed that stargazer, the CD member who posted this blog has 1 post and just joined. Could mean nothing…

It is not a hoax. It is a blog being written by Ken Johnson (Program Director) to provide information to FTC teams about the change in platform. It was released to Affiliate Partners and Regional Directors yesterday. An official announcement will go out to teams early next week.

hey we might get to use pneumatics :smiley:

but seriously i run a small team on a 1K budget, if i need power tools, thats my budget gone, wheres the kit!? i’d rather stick with FIRST but i think they’re forcing me to go with a vex competition

If you need help with powertools, you could just find an FRC team in your area.

true but only (i think i havent found anyone else) team here in burlington is my FTC team and Rambotics (m.m. robinson high school which is half an hour from my house :smiley: my brothers go that school but i wont) but i doubt ill really be able to borrow power tools

Next question: How is the split going to affect this forum? At the moment FTC/FVC is a sub-folder of Vex. I hope that questions regarding Vex can still be posted and answered here, even if it’s not a formal FIRST program.

Last I heard, Intelitek was planning on having a program for the new platform. PITSCO is the maker of ROBOLAB, the old RCX program. Correct me if I am wrong, but I believe they also made the NXT Software, based off of LabView. Will we be able to program in multiple languages for the new FTC platform I wonder?

Metal gears will be nice, the plastic ones breaking and slipping get on my nerves. I am curious how this will affect cost.

You’ll recognize the packaging, it’s based on the LEGO NXT controller but will do a lot more than your standard NXT. More on that to follow.

Does this mean it will look like an NXT, or will the “brick” look different?

You can always try They have a great forum and questions usually get answered extremely fast.

I’m hoping a team will step up and make a forum like CD deticated to FTC. There are around 800 teams (I think) for FTC now, it would be nice to have another forum. Also a bluealliance or SOAP (video archiving) for FTC would be nice as well. I don’t have the skill or time to do this =S.

…or it could be that I am a regular forum member who didn’t want my name on the post :slight_smile:

While it hasn’t been officially announced, I was told that it could be communicated at this time.

Everything isn’t settled yet as they are still looking to get feedback on kits that have been distributed before they settle on the official kit contents. I am particularly interested in the controller. I was told that the system is based on NXT with 10x more memory and around 40% faster than the vex (processor speed?). If it uses an ARM processor like the LEGO NXT it could be quite capable. Their cost target for a kit is $1000 (I don’t know what they plan to include and what extras will be available).

The cost of $1000 is going to be a real issue for some programs.


$1000? That’s pretty steep for FTC. I know a lot of the teams here in RI could never afford something like that. Even the Vex kits they have were purchased and donated by the state, and I don’t know if they’d be thrilled with spending 3 times as much after only 2 years on the old system.

While this is very sad to hear (but not unexpected), there will always be a home for Vex teams in the Milwaukee (and beyond) area, with either the Milwaukee Vex League or IFI’s Vex competition.

your wish is being answered :smiley:

There are a lot of teams who have invested a lot of money in to Vex kits.

FTC was supposed to be the low-cost robot competition, in order to get FIRST into more high schools.

This new platform only causes teams to go out, and replace everything they already own with $1000+ of new stuff. That’s not cheap.

I don’t know about you, but I know of several teams who are more willing to stick with their financial investments (in Vex) than they are with FTC. Especially with free Vex competitions like Savage Soccer and Bridge Battle that utilize the Vex kits, and provide as much challenge and inspiration as anything from FTC.

I do not see any reason why the current Vex platform is outdated, unnecessary, or otherwise needs to be replaced with a new system. Some parts might be upgradeable, but it does not need to be outright replaced. Therefore, this represents an intentional decision to force FTC teams to purchase an entirely new system and take on the financial burden.

That is not the right decision for a program that’s supposed to be the ‘low-cost competition’.

FIRST is still great, but if they continue to make misguided decisions and hope everyone will just blindly swallow them to stay with FIRST, they are mistaken. We all love FIRST, but we all have other assets and the like to look after. And in the end, the decisions we make will be for our students, for their inspiration.

I’ll still be involved with volunteering and being involved at FTC events, but I really can’t put my heart behind this decision for new kits.

Its still to early to do anything yet but me and basicxman have been talking about this on the vex forum.

It is a good thing they are starting to tell us about the expensive kit now. Time to fundraise!

I hope with the new kit, the tournament gets altered. Regtangular field, teams on both sides of the field rather than on 2 joined sides. More FRC-like. It is so hard to see the action on an FTC field.

FTC is still an in-expensive option for competing. $1k is still much less than starting up an FRC team. FTC is in-expensive, but VEX is now the “value” competition.

Right now this is mostly in the realm of theory with not a lot of concrete info to make an informed evaluation.

When this goes official I will explain my thoughts on this in great detail.

It should be interesting.