Robots causing property damage

Crashes and damage are almost guaranteed to happen every season. I’m wondering what kind of damage has your robot done? It doesn’t matter who did it, a driver, a programmer tester, rookie, or a whatever. My team has created a perfect circle in the carpet and run into the wall before we had the chance to make bumpers.

(Photos are very welcome)


Here’s a photo of the perfect circle and the dent we made in the wall lol


I broke a tv during auto testing :grimacing:, not my proudest moment

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Many years ago (pre bumpers) we were doing a demo in the rotunda of the Mississippi State Capitol. The then Governor of Mississippi was driving our robot and ran it full speed into a marble column and took a small chip out of the marble a few inches from the floor. I assume its still there.

Another time we are doing a demo in one of our sponsors fancy buildings with marble floors. We had several robots but one of them had mecanum wheels and all the employees were having a blast “drifting” the robot all over on the smooth floor. They didn’t seem to care that they were leaving marks all over their fancy floor. Oddly, we have never been asked back to demo there. They are still a valued sponsor though.


autonomous testing for Stronghold. The only one I can remember.


Not exactly property damage, but a few times our 2021 robot lost control, the most notable of which is when it spilled coffee on itself.


I get to give my favourite story now, so yay!

Years ago I was doing a bit of a coding fix on the Stronghold robot. The robot was a new design for us at the time - like many robots that year, fast, lots of torque, low and brutal. I was working on my own adding an ultrasonic to detect one of the barriers so that it could stop before hitting it in the game. To test the code, I put it on blocks on the bench, turned it on, and walked towards the robot carrying a large sheet of wood. It worked perfectly - the wheels spun up, and when the wood came within range they stopped.

Confident that the test was good, I put it on the floor in front of a wall and turned it on. My first mistake was that for some reason the power was set to 1 - not the 0.3 I normally use for tests. The robot accordingly shot away at full speed. The good news was that the sensor worked as expected, and it shut off power to the drive exactly when it should.

Which is where my second mistake kicks in. What I wasn’t aware of is that the night before the team changed the motors to coast instead of brake. Thus the robot didn’t stop, but turned from a somewhat controlled state into a missile. It smashed completely through the wall and came out the other side.

At which point the sensor correctly informed the robot that there was no longer a wall in front of it, so it reimposed full power to all the motors, and charged off at great speed towards the external wall. By then I was desperately hitting emergency stop, and while it still took a while to stop moving, by the time it reached the other side of the room it was slow enough that did only minimal damage.

Luckily no one was there to see me. I did some quick repairs, fixed the damage on the robot, and kept it a secret for the rest of the season. I’d like to say that I learned my lesson, but that would be ignoring the various mistakes we managed in 2020 and 2021. However, I’m still pretending that they didn’t happen.


1197 spent its first build season in an abandoned restaurant. The founding TorBOTs decided the best way to test the robot was to drive it into a wall at full speed. Robot survived. Can’t say the same for the wall. The wasps hanging out in the wall were none too pleased as well.


Ultimate Accent. Practicing in cafeteria, blasted an exit sign over the doors. Added velcro to hold the sign together, still holding up the last time I checked.


LogoMotion was the first year my sons and I were on an FRC team. They met at the team captain’s home and built the robot on the pool table in the family room. I told them they would have trouble cleaning up the metal shavings but the two team members who dominated the team didn’t want to listen.

We weren’t there on bag day but we heard from other team members that the programmer tried driving the bot inside the house before putting it in the bag. He promptly punched a hole in one of the walls. Apparently, the team captain grabbed the controller and said “I’ll show you how it’s done” and immediately punched a second hole in the walls. For some strange reason, we never met there anymore. I’m not sure how they got all the metal shavings out of the felt on the pool table… :thinking:


Not property damage, but still a robot out of control.

We were testing our limelight’s ability to see targets. Our programming mentor had a really shiny pen clipped to his shirt pocket…the camera locked onto the pen and the robot drove full speed towards him, but stopped and was then able to reverse towards me at full speed before the emergency stop actually worked. We were testing lining up at different shooting distances, which is why it drove at all.

A lot of code was redone that day. Fun times.


64 Corvette Stingray. About $8k in damage altogether. Fiberglass, etc. Car show demos in middle of summer. Drive station computer overheated and froze up. Maybe also a code change that may not have enabled safety of drive motors, not certain. Lucky however, could have been personal injuries and we had team insurance which gratefully covered the claim.

Edit: I didn’t even remember that they drove the robot without the bumpers. What happened is that we had the 2017 robot for the demo but some students went and got the 2016 robot from the shop only a block away. Some lessons learned for sure. And we haven’t been back the last 4 years to the car show, the shop is somewhere else now too.


Broke a couple tiles on the wall + dented multiple bikes to date

Lots and lots of drywall that happens to be at bumper height

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We had lots of little bumps into the hallway drywall during my time on the team. Thankfully, I cant think of any substantial enough to cause trouble for the team.

There is one instance of damage that sticks with me though.

In 2014, our aerial assist robot had a giant claw with basically an oversized spear gun to launch the ball. This thing could throw the ball full field. At that time our practice space was an unused wrestling gym with medium height ceiling tiles. Probably about 10 or 12 feet high.

We had just got done programming our most basic autonomous mode that would tip the arm down from starting config to aim at the goal, fire the ball, wait a couple seconds and drive forward for the movement points.

Unfortunately, when we tested it for the first time, it seems we got the steps a bit out of order…

As soon as we enabled the robot, it fired the spear gun puncher with force of a thousand suns, launching the ball directly into the ceiling tile above. This blasted the tile into the darkness beyond. The ball bounced away and the arm lowered down to aim at the goal. While the operators were watching in shock and the robot sat there motionless, the pieces of the ceiling tile returned from the the abyss they had been sent to. Falling back through the new hole in the ceiling, they landed on the floor directly in front of the robot just in time for the robot to take off and drive over them as if to make sure they were fully dead.

After sitting in mild disbelief and laughing uncontrollably, we set to work taping the remnants of the tile back together and putting them back in the place in the ceiling by precariously lifting them with some extra long broom handles.

TLDR: That is the story of how the robot tire tracks got on the ceiling.


This one had quite the cleanup


We put a nice hole in the wall during our IR@H runs, which were done in the part of the school completed a year and a half prior to the damage


The community college we meet at sometimes lets us practice in the lobby/atrium in front of the theater because it’s a big open carpeted space. On either side of the theater doors there are two large round light fixtures which we learned are in the range of 200-400 dollars each.

During 2014 practice one of the balls was kicked 15 feet up in the air and knocked of the light fixture breaking it. We started being alot more careful with how we handled them.

Unfortunately the same day not more than a few hours later we were doing auto testing when the robot instead of turning away from the doors, turned towards them and aimed perfectly at the remaining light fixture which also got knocked down and broken

The college wasn’t exactly happy about that day


Eight years later and I still vividly remember the feeling when the ball left my foot and immediately knew I messed up


Trying out a new drive base before the 2015 season (west coast drive + shifter gear box)
We drove into a door which caused some cosmetic damage. This also ruptured a pneumatic tank on the bot, and broke a few rivets.