New robot rules at Peachtree

I just received an email blast from the Peachtree regional commmitee. They are now adding a requirement for a “safety interlock”, a device that will prevent accidental actuation of a firing system.

In the spirit of R8 and FIRST’s guidance from this update and as a result of other events having experienced accidental deployments of robot mechanisms and injuries while handling robots, Peachtree Inspectors will be requiring a couple of items if you plan to transport or operate your robot in a stored energy configuration :

  1. The presence and engagement of a “safety interlock mechanism,” independent of the firing system that prevents accidental release of the mechanism while in the pit, queuing line, field placement, field removal or any other non-match time the robot mechanism is “armed.”
  2. Demonstration to the inspector of effective operation of this interlock and the proper and safe placement and removal of the interlock. This may, at the inspector’s discretion, include the demonstration of this interlock device through an attempted “dry fire” of your mechanism.
  3. A description to the inspector of your plan for safe field removal if the robot is not upright and the mechanism is armed.
    Understanding that this requirement comes after the official Stop Work time for construction of your robot, this interlock does not have to be a permanent part of your robot indeed, the expectation is that it will be removed from the machine when placed on the field, and as such, would not be counted as part of the robot’s official weight, unless significant components are permanently attached to your robot. Inspectors are prepared to be reasonable in accommodating teams’ responses to this requirement - the goal here is safety for all involved.
    The Peachtree Committee doesn’t want anyone getting hurt while these mechanisms are armed. I trust everyone will see the wisdom of operating this way and compliance will not be a major issue.
    I look forward to an exciting Peachtree Regional Competition and to seeing all of you at the event!

The only issue I have here is that since this is not rule put in place by FRC, there is no Q&A, or any other method by which we can get clarification. I have no worries that the launching mechanism on our robot might accidentally fire. I am now worried that we will run into trouble with the inspectors because I do not see an easy way to add an interlock that will not violate the robot rules. Our mechanism is pneumatic in nature, and we must transport the robot with the pneumatic system pre-charged. since the pneumatic rules are very restrictive, most safety interlock systems would violate the pneumatic rules.

There is no governing body I know of to ask questions of, since this was not imposed by FIRST.

This year just keeps getting better.

We have a pneumatic firing system as well. We designed a mechanical lockout that does not violate any rules. It is simply a metal bar that goes through 2 eye bolts in the frame. The bar keep the arm from firing even if we hit the trigger while it is in place. We forgot a few times with the practice bot. It makes a dull thud when it’s fired with the safety on.

I have had lockouts in all high energy devices after we were told by an inspector to add one in about 5 years ago.

Unfortunately, our design does not lend itself to a mechanical blocking device.

I’m almost positive that they shouldn’t be allowed to enforce this “rule” as much as it makes sense to have such a safety feature.

Glad I won’t have to worry about it. My original team might though.

The only way my teams mechanism would accidentally go off in transport from the pit to the field is if we had a catastrophic materials failure from extreme unprecedented stress. Which can be said of pneumatic based systems as well.

However it seems pretty clear to me that all you have to do to not have to add a whole new subsystem onto your robot is not do this.

if you plan to transport or operate your robot in a stored energy configuration

a wire with a hook at the end that is attached to the frame?

In general, this is a good idea anyway. Both us and our alliance partners (1126) this past weekend had ridiculously powerful shooters. Both also had a mechanical lock in place for carrying the robot in a stored energy configuration. Whether it’s just a steel bar through two eyebolts holding back your catapult (20) or a thick metal pin that holds back a powerful slingshot (1126), the stored energy should be somehow contained for a worst-case scenario.

That being said I know exactly what you mean. Can the regional require this since it is not in the official rules? I’m not sure that’s okay.

Ours is simply a loop of high- strength sailing line with a carabiner on it. Loops around the catapult, frame of the robot and back on itself. Giant orange streamer attached to remind us to take it off.

I’m not familiar with your design, but I can’t imagine doing something similar is much more difficult for you guys.


would a ball valve inline work for you?

I suggest asking Q&A, or more to the point, the frcteams email, to clarify if this particular “rule” has its origins at their level, and, in fact, where it originated. If it does not, they will hopefully clarify that. (And ask if you will need to follow it. If they say no, print the message, securely attach it to the robot, and if the event folks refuse to pass your inspection solely on the grounds that you did not comply with this, ask them to contact Al/HQ.)

Rules and rulings that DO NOT come from the GDC DO NOT have to be enforced, and should NOT be enforced.

Note: I don’t disagree with the general concept. I HIGHLY disagree with the following: 1) It appears NOT to come from the GDC. 2) It happens AFTER WEEK 3 of competition–way too late. 3) FRC officials are being expected to enforce a rule/ruling that fits item #1 in this list, which is not in any Manual.

Oh, and 4): Only one event? Seriously? If you’re gonna apply something like this, it needs to apply to every event after the date of issue, or to no events at all.


I’d ask a very direct question on the Q&A as soon as possible. Individual events should not have additional robot requirements that either supplement or contradict the FRC Manual / Q&A. If this ruling was created in conjunction with the GDC, then it needs to be publicized to all teams through an official form of communication (i.e. A Team Update).

Small-picture: Ratcheting tow strap looped around? 4901 uses one to fine-tune its release point, but a second one could easily cinch down and prevent firing.

Big-picture: I’m not thrilled with regionals adding “rules” that are not in the competition manual. Many are well-intentioned, but they are infuriating to me as a competitor. (Don’t get me started on labeling the main breaker.) Have you tried emailing FRC Team Support?

We figured that we would be asked to have a safety lock on the robot because of the safety rules. (And were worried about moving it without one even though it is very difficult to accidentally release our shooter.) We used a steel shaft through holes on the robot frame, but at least a couple of teams I saw used rope and carabiner or bungee cords. The inspectors at Crossroads were helpful with suggestions.

After looking at the picture of your robot on the blue alliance, I would suggest asking if you could put a removable guard in place of a lock. By guard I mean a tube that would go on the end of the vacuum so even if it was to fire, it would not hit anything. I know this is not the perfect solution but it could be an option (I think).

We had already intended to have a safety interlock on our mechanism; not because the rules or inspectors may require it, but because I would rather not have the robot seriously maim any of our team members. These launchers are dangerous mechanisms.

Here’s our simple interlock for a pneumatic launcher: PVC piece that clips over a cylinder rod to keep it in an extended position, so that a dry fire results in no movement.


The question needs to be asked (something like this … add or update it to make it better): “Does an individual regional, or district event, have the authority to create and enforce additional rules and requirements without these rules and requirements coming from the official FIRST Q&A or Team updates?”

I suppose this could be interpreted as the LRI clarifying ahead of time how they will interpret/enforce R8.

The reasoning of the LRI may be that all stored energy devices over some undefined quantity of energy (regardless of type) must have lockouts to be considered “safe” per R8.

Your best bet is to e-mail our head inspector (bottom right of the doc). He has been very good about replying to such questions in the past. It would seem though that all this needs to be is a pin/bar/strap of some sort that you manually remove before and after matches. I think it may be a bit less complex than what you may be thinking. But that said I didn’t write it so ask the inspector.

Like said above, this isn’t technically a new rule it’s a stated manner in which a rather ambiguous rule will be enforced at a particular regional. FIRST left R8 very open and this is our LRIs’ interpretation of safe.

Note, this isn’t a commentary on what has been proposed by the Peachtree Regional, rather just some suggested steps to ensure any sort of ruling of this type is enforced uniformly and consistently across FRC events.

Martin and Karthik, I think the pertinent sections of the Manual are 5.5.2, 5.5.3, and 3.2.1, rule <G3>. I agree that procedures to ensure safety should be used uniformly at all events.

I expect FIRST staff and Big Al are already talking about this one.

Received from the LRI prior to San Diego regional…

In the spirit of R8, Inspectors will be requiring a couple of items if you plan to operate your robot in this manner:

  1. Presence of an interlock independent of the firing system that prevents accidental release of the mechanism while in the pit, queuing line, field placement, field removal or any other non-match time the robot mechanism is “armed.”

  2. Demonstration to the inspector of proper and safe placement and removal of the interlock.

  3. A description to the inspector of your plan for safe field removal if the robot is not upright and the mechanism is armed.

This interlock does not have to be part of your robot.

For many teams a strap sufficed.