PSA Bumper Material & Driving Over Power Cells

Can anyone tell us what product is being used here?

I will assume that its use complies with R10 (same rule this year and in 2018), unless the team or an RI with direct knowledge of 195’s experience says otherwise; however, its application might be interpreted as reducing friction on an outer surface of the robot, even if it does not contaminate the field or other robots. Maybe the outer surface of a bumper is still “within” the robot?

^How #PledgeGate began. Soon to be synonymous with greased baseballs, corked bats, and deflated footballs… dun dun dun

if you didn’t catch it… /s


It’s pledge polish enhancer



It is not intended as a lubrication, rather a cleaning & shine of the bumper fabric & Team Numbers in an effort to look professional & clean. Slick Bumper fabrics have a tendency to scuff and pick up unwanted dust and grime. We like to clean them frequently in order to prevent them from looking gross by the end of the season.

If, however, an inspector was worried about R10… based on the Glossary definition of ROBOT, I would personally interpret BUMPERS to be included in the allowance of R10, lubricating within the ROBOT, since BUMPERS are integral to what defines a ROBOT.

We have not had anyone question our use of pledge on bumpers before.


Thanks, Bailey. Knowing that the product is Pledge, and that it is not sold (or generally used) as a lubricant, would remove any concern that I might have had as a robot inspector. I only asked because the product label was not visible in the video clip. If it had turned out to be Butter Flavored Crisco, I might have had an R10-based concern. In that case I would have gone to my LRI for a ruling on whether the lubricant (shortening) was applied “within” the robot, since that is also unclear.

I think shining up your robot’s bumpers with a cleaning product should fall well-within the rules of what’s permissible in FRC. And it is very cool.


Over on the Spectrum Build Blog thread, I inadvertently started a (hopefully) short discussion on sail cloth as bumper material and the possible use of this dry film lubricant as a spray on friction reducing treatment.

There are some questions about whether this violates R10 or whether this violates the bumper construction rules (i.e. the lubricant constitutes something other than fabric material and therefore can’t be used). I have had some experience with this product for other applications and when it is dry, it will not transfer onto your hands or other materials. So, I believe that R10 is not violated. I also believe that this does not fundamentally change the fact that the bumpers are fabric construction. However, I plan to ask a clarifying question on the Q&A as soon as I get around to it.

Pertinent to this thread, this film lubricant may do a really good job of preventing the power cell balls from sticking to the bumpers and then rolling under the frame. I don’t have any of the product right now that I can try and I also don’t have bumper material yet (I’ll be ordering that this weekend). So, I will not be able to test this any time really soon. I know this works well with sail cloth, and I would expect it would work pretty well with other fabric materials. If I get a bottle of this, we may try it on last year’s bumpers to see how well it works on that fabric.


Here is a test we did this past weekend. Note that our bumpers are high, not regulation, and not too slick.


The last blue box of R22 by my interpretation rules illegal what 33 did with the iron on covering. Shouldn’t impact spray on lubricants.

Ok, so why worry about the gamepieces? Just blow right over them!


Probably fine for most low bots. High bots beware of tippage.

We haven’t tested with multiple yet but we had similar results testing an 8" pneumatic wheel 6WD bot. The power cell would go under the bot but didn’t impact its course much. Even put a power cell under the bot inside of our mockup of the shield generator barriers, from a dead stop the robot could still drive right off with minimal steering impact.

The size and squishiness of the power cells makes them less of a threat for beaching bots than cargo last year. We didn’t test multiple power cells but we also tested with a 50 lb bot, so a competition weight robot seems like it could squish 2 - 3 at a time without issue.

The real concern is the definition of “Control”. If I run over a couple power cells at full speed have I controlled them? What if they roll in my direction of travel after reappearing from under the bot? What if I stop on them? I haven’t had a chance to peruse the Q&A recently to look for guidance.

I’m not sure if driving over them is considered CONTROL but as long as you drive over them in less than 3 seconds, you’ll be fine.

R22 does not apply here, as the material we used had nothing to do with putting our numbers on the bumper. The material that we used was to protect the bumpers from ripping etc and keep them looking clean.

However like I said before it was a poor solution that did not work well and we ended up pulling off mid-season.

The material we used last year was much much more effective at staying robust and professional looking while having the bonus of being slippery. However as I also said we still didn’t like how thick it was and how the corner folded areas could still wear, so we are looking into other material options for this season.

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This is the only time we ever drove over a power cell. Rapid accelerations caused the “front” of the robot to lift just enough to get over a power cell. This problem can be mitigated with software providing a more gradual acceleration or with a robot that doesn’t lift when you try to drive forwards/backwards.
Whenever the bumper remained at a constant height the power cells bounced right off of the bumper.


I think that video was relevant. What type of material / distance off the ground

We are building a trenchbot, looking at ~27" tall (or shorter if we can!). The concern (see other thread) is hitting these right before or under the trench. Will have to just pick em all up as we head through!

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We haven’t tested with bumpers yet, but our drivetrain drives right over the power cells just like the videos. Unless that becomes an issue with number of power cells in “control”, I think this may be a non-issue for most teams.

Thinking about Stronghold made me quite worried about getting stuck on balls this year, but we can’t make our six inch wheel WCD robot get stuck even if we try.

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I am more worried about this slowing teams down than them getting stuck for the match

I am also concerned about what this does to the quality of the balls for shooting. If everyone just dukes of hazard over them and are likely not paying attention to sharp edges and pinch points under the robot the PC are going to get cut to shreds even more than they already are

I think we will put a full plastic bellypan under our robot, just for this reason. Hopefully balls won’t be able to get pinched between wheel and pan.

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The bumpers in the videos are to spec for things year if you have MAX size bumpers at the max height.
As for bumper material, I only know where we got it from; we bought it in bulk a few years ago.