Our team could be stretched to say we have students using tools in an “Unsupervised” setting. Our shop is bigger than most teams have and we are lucky for this. This does mean we have a room with our router in it, another room connected with all of our “industrial” machines (any machine that you can’t just pick up and walk away with), a hallway, a class room with our 3d printers in it, and another large room with our full practice field in it.
There are times (very rarely but they do happen) where students are using a tool and there is not a mentor in the same “room” as them even if we are all in our facility. We allow this because we have a very strict training system before you can use any tools. For tools that are “common” in a school wood/machine shop we use the same tests that the school board requires students to pass for those classes, which are mostly paper tests. We then go a step further and actually make them show properly setting up guards, holding material properly, checking the right blade/bit/whatever is in the machine etc.
When I was in high school there were times where in our woodshop the teacher would be in his office and I would be at least 4-5 full closed doors away from him working with a machine way more dangerous (such as a surface planer) than what we have in our shop currently. If the school board believed that was fine I think trusting a student (who has passed all of our safety training) to step into another room to cut something on the bandsaw or use a 3d printer is not something for the community to be up in arms about.
On to the main topic of the thread, we are a team who has been featured in a few Behind The Bumpers and our robot has been enabled with students around it. When these interviews are happening the pit is cleared of any student who is not necessary for the interview. The robot is disabled. A mentor is in front of the laptop to enable and disable it. Either a mentor or our driver has their hands on the controller the whole time. The controller and laptop both as far from each other as safely possible so incase something happens to fall on our work bench it is unlikely to both enable the robot and hit the controller. When it comes time to actually move the robot for said interviews the mentors and students all visually show they are clear from the robot, it is enabled and a mentor will feed the game pieces. This is the same process we use for judges, showing others how our robot works, and general testing of the robot between matches.
I understand that safety has become a hot button topic on Delphi this offseason and I have always been a big proponent of doing things as safely as possible but trust me we don’t want to let this topic balloon to much. If we do then it will turn into a rule where “Robots may only be turned on on the practice field, or in the ARENA.” Which is something I am sure no one wants.