R406: Intent vs Penalty

This post is meant to share my team’s experience at our first event of 2023 before we could even played any matches

Rule R406 specifically regulates the “Team number on BUMPERS”. Rules are always in place for a reason and to me

such that an observer walking around the perimeter of the ROBOT can unambiguously
tell the team’s number from any point of view and meet the following additional criteria:

very clearly indicates that the intent of the rule is robot identification via the bumpers.

A. consist of only white Arabic numerals at least 4 in. (~11 cm) high, at least ½ in. (~13 mm)
in stroke width,

At our event today, we were made aware that we cannot pass inspection as our bumpers are non-compliant of R406 because our team numbers are not “only white” as per condition A.

To my dismay, we were told that we cannot pass inspection and that obviously meant we had to remedy the bumpers before our first event could actually start for us. My Grade 12 students started painting (in white) our numbers and spent time trying to track down RED and BLUE sharpies. While I was left to try to comprehend why my Grade 9,10,11 students, who have never been on an FRC team before this year, cannot see our robot on the field practicing. I even spoke to a student about how I want to see his face as he walks into his very first FRC event, only to see a look of confusion as seniors are scribbling over our bumpers.

I proposed a solution of painting in our numbers with white paint and drawing outlines as per this image. This was a problem we were told because the “extra white” stuff is now not part of the number, and that it would violate additional condition C. We had to colour in the white boxes inside the ‘6’ and ‘0’ with red/blue colour.

C. may not substitute logos or icons for numerals.

I guess for me “Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology” doesn’t intersect with lets just say to this team, sorry the rule about team numbers on bumpers is why you cannot compete. This is a WEEK 1 event!!

IF this rule is truly about making it obvious what team is out on the field, can we not just be lenient to the impact of violating it? I am not suggesting teams should be allowed to violate it, but why is the rule written to be so strict and disallow bumpers that have been allowed in the past? Like the ones we have used since at least my time on the team (2017).

Other teams at our event were told things like black outlines between numbers are not allowed. A maple leaf inside of a ‘0’ is not allowed. All of which are not violating safety or anything that is actually providing these teams an advantage in the game. Let them play this tournament and change them for the next one.

I will include images of my bumpers after 2 fixes. Neither of these photos are in violation of the rules. BOTH of these are less clearly visible and unambiguous.

Before anyone points out the obvious, I will admit I missed this in the rules and thats on me. So we comply with the rules now but less the intent of it.

The bumpers we came into the event with I did not photograph, but please look up Team 610 and you will find several examples of our numbers. Contrary to common belief our “logo” is actually just our team number in a very specific font but with a maple leaf. This is why we are not in violation of condition B.

Original bumpers we walked into the event with

For the record, my problem is with “R406 Intent vs Penalty”, not with any particular individual at the event trying to do their job.

EDIT: I am not suggesting the penalty is that teams simply cannot play because our FTA and LRI said they were okay with us playing in filler matches, for which you do need to have passed inspection. The penalty is, depending on the remedy, the time lost to colouring in bumpers which could have been spent teaching my new students how an event works. My new drive team how queuing works and go over all our roles for this specific venue. Tuning our robot for the real field, and time spent practicing. I just think that the intent of this rule should superceded the rule when the blue box specifically calls out the intent (and it’s in the rule).


I was waiting for a post about this rule, and I’m glad to see it’s coming from you guys. I personally thought all styles of bumper numbers with both fine and rather easy to identify–even if numbers were replaced with things like a maple leaf. (I’m sure many of you can agree this makes it even easier, in a way, to identify what team that bot belongs to).

I was also disappointed about the rule change because it shuts down a lot of stylistic choices teams might have, notably 118’s beautiful embroidered white and gold numbers. I hope FIRST reconsiders not enforcing this in the future.


Personally never would of interperted that outlined bumper numbers with the bumper fabric were illegal from the new R406. More reason to dislike this change imo.


Disappointing that they wouldn’t let you onto the field just because of illegal bumper numbers - I was under the impression that a legal set of bumpers wasn’t a requirement to play in practice matches as long as they were present in some form. (such as using vanity bumpers [ref] and bumpers with the wrong alliance color)


A legal set of bumpers are required to pass inspection, and inspection is required to play practice matches. You do not have to be in the inspected configuration to play, but you must pass inspection first.

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From the Inspection and Eligibility rules:

Robots are permitted to participate in scheduled Practice Matches prior to passing inspection. However, the FTA, LRI, or Head Referee may determine at any time that the Robot is unsafe and may prohibit further participation in Practice Matches until the condition is corrected and/or the Robot passes inspection.

A minor bumper issue doesn’t cause an unsafe condition IMO. However, the OP doesn’t mention if they worked through the scheduled matches, in which case they would still need to be inspected to join the filler line.


I can only imagine that the rule was changed due to volunteers not being able to identify numbers unambiguously. 610s numbers have always been clear to me and honestly make them easier to identify on the field due to their uniqueness. I’ve never had issues picking them out on stream.

That said, it’s very difficult to define a rule better than the wording they had prior to this year. So if that wording was insufficient, we get this year’s wording… I suspect we will see many rejected bumpers this year before it settles down next year. 610 just got caught in the crossfire.

Wild that they wouldn’t let y’all play practice matches though. We’ve played practice matches with very illegal robots, given that they were not unsafe.


The event thus far has only had filler line practice matches, and 610 was able to make a good amount of those matches. I’m not positive if 610 fully resolved their inspection issues before playing in the filler line which they may have resolved their bumpers before being allowed to que in the filler line.

I still think it’s clear the bumper rules have had a regression in quality and should be adjusted based on this interaction, and when I was reviewing the rules originally for this game this rule seemed like it was going to catch people up unfortunately.


The matches offered on what I call day 0 at a district event are not scheduled or guaranteed. These were filler line only, and we chose to use our time to correct the bumpers instead of play, with LRI and FTA permission, because we knew we would be late into the venue next day due to severe weather.

I have made an edit to my post to mention that we were still allowed to play, and eventually did. However, the fact that at our first event of the season, first multi day event in 3 seasons this just didn’t seem like the best way to spend our time, especially because what was illegal better met the intent of the rule.

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We had a similar issue at RIDE, we as well missed the rule change. However we have been running the same font for 6+ Years without any complaints, and maybe I’m reading the rule wrong but I’m struggling to see how we are in violation. Along with this it just seems like the rule exists to make everyone the same and frankly squash creativity. We use the same font for our shirts our team logo and for anything else the represents the BOB image. Under 406a I believe we are within the constraints of the rule. Maybe we are reading it wrong but I’ve attached an image of our numbers below

I’d understand if there was some form of safety risk or gameplays interaction resolved by this rule but it just seems like over kill and it makes me sad to see a part of our teams history washed away


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