Robot Collaboration

Collaboration is Great!
Kudos to you.
I “real” life, several teams need to interact and share for the betterment of the business as a whole.

Well done.

That’s a pretty scary but brilliant idea, in my personal opinion. So which one of you gets the credit for it?

Call me jaded, but FIRSTers are driven by awards and recognition. It’s in our blood (though we don’t like to admit it). What happens when both of you go after the same angle on your Chairman’s application? Unless the rules change, only one of you can get the credit for it.

True, if any team was to break the glass ceiling of “no teams beyond 200 have ever won the Chairmans Award”, it would be 254…they definitely mirror the resources and support of a pre-200 team. But if one of you wins with it, the other team needs to find another angle to take next year, because that idea is now “old hat” to the judges. And knowing FIRST teams (for the most part), once an idea is recognized, all development on it ceases - because it has served its purpose.

I think inter-team partnerships are great…I used to do it myself. But just as in those old movies with the business partner running off with all the money, things like that happen today, and a team who you thought you knew may not be one who you knew at all. And no, I’m not saying that against either of you in particular, you both are outstanding teams, I’m saying it because you just need to be sure you trust the team you’re collaborating with.

As for the collaboration aspect, I honestly would be terrified if all 16 Delphi teams had the same game design (or any multiple of teams, for that matter…I’m not just picking on Delphi :wink: ). Especially with their game experience, if everyone did this, it would stifle the rookie retention rate. I can absolutley see it turning into leagues of teams that “acquire” younger teams into their pipeline or shutting out teams that they didn’t like. And I honestly don’t want to see Dean take up an SEC role.

Please don’t get all upset about my viewpoint - it is only a viewpoint, and its not an angry one, just something from an old FIRSTer who’s been through the trials and tribulations of collaboration and who cares about both of your teams.

There are a few points here that need to be clarified.

First – Yes, we did collaborate, and make the same robot. However, it is NOT the exact same robot. Each of our teams made small adjustments that the other did not. The robot is wired differently, and we will have different programs. We can’t wait to see the Poofs at Nats and see what it comes down to. Who will win? Only strategy and driver skill will seperate us.

Second – I cannot think of a team that we could trust any more than the Cheesy Poofs. When they submit their Chairman’s Award entry, I hope that they include our alliance. And we will do the same. I think that people are missing the point that we are acting as one team. If the Cheesy Poofs win an award for design, or for performance, or any other award, we can feel that we share it. We each worked on the other’s robots, and we are each equally part of the alliance.

On team 60, we’re so close that we’ve become family. (Advisors, Machinists, Students, and Parents included) We’ve done so much together, that it is practically impossible not to be so close.
We wanted to work with 254, who we consider an extended group of our family to show everyone what kind of collaboration is possible, when you’re NOT worrying about “yourself” and “your own team’s awards”. Now we’re working together to worry about “us” and “our team’s achievements”.

Amanda M

But you’re not the same team. If you want to be considered as one team, then merge and register under the same number. I personally think that would be an innovative idea…teams working from different states to produce one robot…it seems to be more of what you both are going after. But until you merge, you are still in the competition’s eyes as two separate teams, walking a fine line hand in hand.

Sometimes things may start out good, but then something happens that compromises that relationship. I’ve seen it happen too many times to think it won’t happen this time, no matter how good you say your relationship is…and that’s what I’m worried about…and it’s something you both need to think about.

im split on the idea…

i do like the idea that teams are forming together, and cooperating.


i dont think its right to do what 60 and 254 did. i mean its kinda cheap. yuo have one team design half the robot, and the other team do the other half. there are teams who are running themselves ragged trying to accomplish a goal. the whole concept of FIRST is to have unique designs. and gauranteed, its a good way to promote first’s unity. its bad that the two teams only have to do half the work. its kinda unfair, but what can you do, disqualify them? no because they broke no rule. however, i think it a kick to the chest for some teams. just my 2cents worth.

Well done Team 60 & 254! I think what you have done is great. Having worked on projects that require input, collaboration, agreement and shared work from different locations on the map, I can honestly say this is no easy feat! Anyone that thinks of this as a “shortcut” is missing the entire picture. You have added a layer of complexity to an already complex, stress-filled project. The end results… I’m sure 2 awesome robots, but more importantly, students that may tackle future projects/problems with a better understanding of cooperation and working towards a common goal. And in my opinion we can’t get enough of those students in the work force fast enough!

Thanks for working with another team, I really support this. Our team was planning on either working with another team or having their students become a part of ours, but the plans fell through for one reason or another. Doing this is really displaying the spirit of FIRST, so keep up the good work.

And now for the rest of the message: That is one sweet robot. I can’t wait to see it work (Could we get some video?). So here’s to you Team 254 and Team 60, that is a very nice job. I just want to know how the big arm thingy works, cause all I can see right now just shows that it’s probably very crazy.

PS:Nice shop, I wish our team would, dare I say it, organize…

Time spent making parts for each team - 6 weeks
Cost for materials to make parts for each team - doubled
Time spent redesigning the robot so each team is satified - 2 weeks
Buidling better peopel and creating stonger realationships -PRICELESS

As to all of the questions that have arrisen - GREAT!!! YEs!!!

As I tell my students

“There are no easy answers… only complicated and never ending questions.”


if this collaboration is the greatest thing since sliced bread then why even have the robot COMPETITION at all? shouldn’t we all just get together and try to come up with one really great robot idea that is simply awesome? wouldn’t that just be the greatest? no. competition makes America what it is. competition between teams, companies, democrats, republicans, liberals, conservatives…without competition nothing ever really gets better. without competition healthcare doesn’t get faster and cheaper, cars don’t get better gas mileage, and things progress much more slowly than before. I hope…no, I PRAY…that Cyber Blue never, never, never NEVER goes to this idea. Cooperation is one thing, so is helping a team at a competition, or mentoring them, or posting a white paper, or showing pictures, or this or that… but the bottom line is building two identicle robots is not the same as these things and therefore should not be compared to them…come on :frowning:

Could someone please address how rule would apply to this situation? Joel brought up this concern earlier… I haven’t seen a response from either team. I’m just curious about the billing rate that’s appropriate.

461 has always used $50 / hr for any CNC work we’ve had done, but I don’t know a fair rate for a typical machinist.

I’m just curious how this will all pan out… it’ll be interesting to say the least. I’m not nearly as concerned about having two identical designs as I am about the whole idea of, “I’ll build two of this and you build two of that, and we’ll switch.” It’s much faster to build 2 of 1 part than 1 of 2 parts.

I know at Purdue, discussions over homework assignments is encouraged. However, writting out problem #1 twice, and having a friend write out problem #2 twice, followed by a switch of assignements doesn’t fully teach either party the material in the problem they didn’t do. In my mind, this homework example parallels this collaboration somewhat close.

However, I’m a little divided to be honest. It seems like this is taking something a bit too far. What that “something” is… I can’t place my finger on… so apon the fence I sit, watching it unravel.

Good luck to everybody!


It’s not just the machining time. The real biggie is the design work. What do you think it would cost on the open market to hire an engineering firm to design an arm that satisfies all of the applicable constraints and fulfils all of the applicable functional requirements? I doubt it could be done for less than $3500, and that’s just to get it designed!

That having been said, I have no problem with this concept as long as the financials are straight. Any team can hire outside engineering and machining. That’s exactly what’s happened here w/ 60 and 254. They just happened to negotiate a really outstanding price. The $3500 limit keeps it fair.

  1. Do you think you could build 16 identical robots with 16 teams?

  2. This collaboration has everything to do with winning. We will have won before the first regional begins by learning how to work together in a long distance partnership by paving the way for teams to think out side the box, sharing information to help everyone.

Winning a Regional or the National Championship is nice but it doesn’t compare to working as a team to develop a new process to build a better product.

How many teams are willing to share all of there current years ideas to include drawings pictures discussion anything? Team 60 and 254 will and do.

  1. Do you think it is easier for two teams to build the same robot or each building their own? The answer is it is much harder to build identical robots.

You have to take your ego and put it on the shelf. You have to listen more than you talk. You must be willing to compromise, only if you use the best of everyone’s ideas will the project be a success. In our case we had to deal with shipping and a lag in getting the parts you needed. There are many other obstacles to over come as well.

Will we have a better product in the end? We hope so.

Have our teams learned some valuable real life lessons? Absolutely!

Teams 60 and 254 collaborating? Amazing idea, whoever thought up that idea deserves much kudos.

Seriously, if I happen to be at a regional where either (or both) teams 60 and 254 are, I will give everybody on those team one cookie. (or a prize of equal value)

This is an excellent idea, and if FIRST indicates it is happy with partnerships like this, I hope to see more of these in the future. The idea that two teams, who compete with each other, are willing to help each other not only with little bits of ideas and advice, but by forming a full-fledged alliance, is excellent. This should be plastered somewhere in an introduction video.

So anyway, what do you guys on 60 and 254 think of Oreos?

I can’t say that I am total against or for this idea. It’s just another way for people to build/think. If this how teams really want their robot to be made then by all means go for it.

However, I won’t be surprised if there is some type of restriction or ban on this for later years.

I have mixed feelings about this. I see how it builds relationships and everything, but you already had a great relationship. This is taking it to a whole new level.

However, I feel that this is unfair to a lot of teams. Splitting up the work between two teams who do not have any trouble with resources is just not right. My team would kill to have the resources your teams have. I think this is just limiting creativity and making FIRST a little more sterile.

Awesome work!!! I’m thrilled to see this actually happen. In the real world companies will in fact work together on projects to make something bigger and better. I’m sure this experience inspired your students and hopefully everyone in FIRST will be inspired too. There is nothing ungracious or there is no cheating here. The only thing that is unprofessional and ungracious that I’ve seen while reading this thread is the people that go and bash these two quality and great teams as cheaters and ungracious. What they did might have been a little unpractical and surprising, but it’s not cheating. Remember Galileo’s ideas were bashed by the public when they were first released, but they are now widely accepted for the most part. Nobody is stopping any of you from trying this, so why don’t you go and try it yourself before you judge. It could be a good learning experience. Congrats to 254 and 60 on their nice work and I hope to compete along side or against you in Atlanta.


My one and only qualm is about how this will work with the $3,500 limit.

  1. There has obviously been some machining done by other teams.

  2. This machining needs to be billed out at a reasonable cost.

I don’t see how it can be honestly billed out at a reasonable rate to both teams, and stay within the $3,500 limit.

If it can be done within the rules, I’m all for it.

However, simple algebra says that any reasonable amount of outside machining time at a reasonable (or even very generous) rate will add up to tens of thousands of dollars very quickly.

I don’t see how it can be done, but I sincerely hope that I’ll be proved wrong. I hate to say it, but I think we’re going to need an official ruling on this from FIRST. I’d assume that someone from one of the teams has already asked FIRST about it before venturing too far.

What ruling did they give you?

If you haven’t asked… I propose this goes up on the Q&A in section 5.3

Good luck everyone!


You know, I’ll put ‘my ego on the shelf’ and just say lets lock this thread. It’s going to get ulgy, and it’s already happening. It’s best for all parties involved just to lock this thread. This is going to be collusion all over again.

Maybe I was unclear when i described the work done by each team in my previous post. Although Team 60 and 254 each machined half of the robot, both teams worked together in forming a single design that satisfied everyone, not “we make one part, you make the other, then we’ll stick em together”. It took us over 1/3 of the build season to finally come up with the design that united the interests of both teams.

Collaboration may make some facets of the program easier, but it brings out unique challenges as well.

This type of collaboration does not decrease competition at all. It is highly unlikely that both 60 and 254 will be in the same division at Nats (though we would enjoy working with them), so wouldn’t a match between our teams become extremely competitive, coming down to driver skill and strategy? There are so many other factors other than robot design that can come into play.

Locking this thread would deprive everyone from finding more about our partnership, and both Team 60 and 254 are happy to keep providing information.

If this forum is as amazing as I think it is, I think it can handle some intelligent discussion about a new idea that’s never been done before at this level.

Putting aside all the messages that’s saying “this is cheating and unfair”, I think there are some important points from both side. It is VERY IMPORTANT that at this point on none of you get emotional about this topic, IF you want to have a constructive discussion about this. Do NOT let your emotion take control of you. Think for 15 mins before you post.

Now. Important points from each side:

  1. By working together both teams have learned something they never would’ve if they worked alone, and that is, the values of partnership, and learning to work with a new process.

  2. It is not as easy as you think to design a robot together.

On the other hand:

  1. Joe J. addressed his concern of many powerful teams working may tilt the playing field in their favor.

  2. Matt Adams addressed his concern of this collaboration with the spirit of the $3500 limit rule.

There are probably more important points, so remind us of your points if you wish to address your concern further.

Now, let’s build a good discussion on top of those sides. I ask that everyone read the entire thread before they post. I will be watching out for messages that claim “I didn’t have time to read the message but I feel like posting anyway”.

I will be truly disappointed if you guys can’t handle a constructive discussion in the most intense time of the build period.