According to every official statement I’ve seen from FIRST and AndyMark, the release of the Rhino drive was purely coincidental. AndyMark had no knowledge of the nature of the game in 2016, nor do they now.
I think it’s a reasonable assumption to expect some level of rough terrain in 2019 but it would probably be wise to wait 'til kickoff to make any game-specific purchases.
I saw someone else say the same thing and now I’m starting to doubt myself. I agree that it would be a good business practice and would alleviate issues like teams spending whole matches beached on defenses like in 2016, if we were to receive products that served a similar role as the rhino track did. I think if all of the parties involved were more clear about this process going on, teams would be more likely to buy these mechanisms and (hopefully) build better robots.
I think it would be interesting if FIRST were to supply similar information to teams as they do (or don’t) supply to suppliers pre-kickoff. For instance, there is an elevated scoring platform in 2018, or a 2016 game object is some sort of sphere in 2016. Minor hints that don’t really reveal gameplay aspects entirely, but give something to teams to think about and test in the pre-season. It looks like FIRST is slowly moving towards making FRC a year-round activity or at least widening the build season. With the recent retirement of bag day, I won’t be surprised to see an info leak like this to teams as part of the schedule in the next few years. I think that would be the most practical way to get teams thinking and working before kickoff without stealing away the lives of mentors and students alike.