Robots that Changed FRC

That 71 robot, along with 111’s 2005 robot that was also able to carry multiple tetras, were a couple of the most exciting robots to watch during my first year in FRC.

That said, 330’s 2005 robot probably had the biggest impact on robot design for me. It had a single jointed arm and no other actuation other than a drivetrain and some cool actuated ramps that made it harder for other robots to push them around. This robot was one of the most effective robots in the world and won the world championship. It showed our rookie team (1625) what a championship robot looked like and raised the competitive expectations of our robots for years to come.

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I’m not too sure which team was the first, but 2019 Succ climbs

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Personally I think the following robots based on the time I’ve been in FIRST

469 (2010) - One of the more prominant “game breaking” robots that could literally not move and outscore a majority of the robots that year. This robot I think helped many teams (mine included) focus more on decreasing cycle time vs increasing robot capabilities.

1717 (2012) - Mentioned above but really cemented the swerve hype train mentality imo

469 (2013) - Mentioned above (how did that robot do everything so well except L3 climb?)

254 (2014) - Cheesy vision/spline path auto

148 (2015) - Team Tether, this robot set the standard for implementing extensions and probably is a major contributing factor on the limitations with robot extension limits.

125 (2017) - The dye rotor getting shown in the unveil video I think had/has an impact on a lot of 2020/2021/2022? designs

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Plenty of cool robots being thrown around here, but for my money, there are a few indisputable answers that moved the ball forward on what we thought was possible or forced a significant change in the rules. Most of these have already been mentioned, but my takes:

47 in 1998. The lasting effects of Chief Delphi’s introduction of swerve drive to FRC can’t be overstated.

71 in 2002. You can’t use traction materials that damage the carpet anymore, and this edition of the Beast was also (I’d argue) the most significant bot that flopped in FRC history (although not the most significant for being a flop-bot, per se).

67 in 2004. There were others, but I think the 2004 HOTBOT was the most memorable among the series of machines that strategically expanded their footprint in the pre-mandatory-bumper era.

469 in 2010. Probably the last of the “game-breakers” and the only one to fall in FRC’s modern era. Las Guerrillas were the most refined among a small cadre of teams that skirted along the edge of Breakaway’s ball control rules to inventively dominate gameplay.

1717 in 2012. The D’Penguineers’ Lindsay Rose featured what was undoubtedly the most technically advanced swerve drive FRC had seen to that point, and it was driven with an equal level of finesse.

148 in 2015. The Robowranglers debuted arguably the most creative robot in a year that provided no shortage of them, with two specialized halves tethered together to multitask like no other team could.

Honorable Mentions—Near Misses
68 in 2003 and 118 in 2012. (With acknowledgement of some homerism for my own former team) Both these designs were struck down before they could take the field for similar “reacting against multiple sides of a field element” violations.

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so robots have had extension limits almost my entire 20 year career in FRC… so while Batman and Robin were awesome robots they didn’t change FRC.

The teams that used a Wheel of Death this year primarily got their inspiration from 217 in 06. While the dye rotor teams of 17 had amazing mechanisms i don’t think they changed FRC either.

47 in 1998, and 71 in 2002, really stand out for lasting influence on what teams strive toward in robot design.

However, the unnamed robot mentioned in Al’s post, that inspired Woodie Flowers to create the bumper rules, has had a more lasting impact on FRC than either of those.

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I’m not sure how much if at all it changed FRC, but it definitely could have if we hadn’t seen the bag go away. 558 in 2016 and 2017 where they were able to run two entirely different robots at each of their events within the rules was a mighty impressive feat and a way around some of the monetary constraints many teams felt from bag and tag and the need to build a practice bot to be competitive. Behind the Design | FRC 558 (2017) – Thinking Outside the Bag – The Blue Alliance Blog

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it wasn’t a robot and they weren’t even the 1st team to do something like it, but we all call it by its current name because of a crazy team in Boston. Our favorite desert and robot modification CHEESECAKE.

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I recall watching a series of 3 videos of the team practicing with this robot, running drills. I counted all the shots made and it was over 200, all of which went in the same hoop. Furthermore, all the shots went through the hoop slightly off-center to the same side. It as quite the demonstration of consistency of performance.

I’d like to throw in 148’s 2018 robot. It made a lot of cuts and design decisions that let it be extremely light, but the part that may change FRC going into the future is it’s buddy climb system. It will work even in a year that doesn’t have large frame perimeter extension limits as most buddy climb systems do. However, it does require “modifying” their alliance partner robot by adding a Velcro strap to it. I think that this is a game changer, and if HQ wants to get rid of it, they’ll have to change the rules to disallow that modification.


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I would say the 900/1114 bot in 2015 that never saw the field. Although it never saw the field, it really exposed what was possible with cheesecaking within the rules.

1114 2008 was the inspiration for a lot of robots in 2014 as well as probably some in 2016.

469’s 2010 and 71’s 2002 redefined how the rules are written as well as how teams read the rules

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Karthik talked about swerve (and other fancy holonomic drives) in the early days pre 2010, but who was the team to first do field-centric swerve with an IMU? I remember being blown away watching team 368 drive perfectly straight down field in 2014 while twirling around. It blew me away.

Edit: After a bit of searching CD, I see that team 1717 had it in 2012. Anyone earlier?
2012 FRC Team 1717 Uncut

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For me, it was 67 in 2012

The utility arm and accuracy was really impressive. Also, I was a big fan of the window motor shifter

Also, I love their chassis designs

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Everybot.

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I think this has to be the best answer from the last couple years given how many clones of the Everybot design we’ve seen.

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233 actually made their first telescoping arm in 2004 (or at least one that 233 was known for). Then continued to perfect it in 2005, 2007, 2008, 2010, and 2011.

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Two that jumped to mind are 121 in 2008 and 148/217 in 2010 because of the impact they had on those specific games.

In 2008, 121 released a video of their finished robot week 3ish of build season. They were willing to share a lot of this information and it lead to several teams straight up copying their design. I think this was one of the first times where we saw a team reveal a design that was adopted. Off the top of my head 1519 and 1902 definitely have

In 2010, game piece manipulation was one of the most restrictive challenges and a lot of teams really struggled with it. The Robowranglers and Thunderchickens did a release video with their “ball magnet.” By week two it seemed like everyone had rebuilt their intake to match their design. It was one of the simplest solutions but it definitely helped raise the floor for teams.

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Not sure if this team was the one who pioneered it… But 2590 2014 was the team that really opened my eyes to the power of mechanum wheels on intakes.

341 2012 is a phenomenal answer.

1114 2014.

Teams that pioneered roller claws in 2007.

1114’s 2015 intake.

67’s 2010 climber.

987’s vision systems

254’s autonomous modes. (especially 2014 and 2018)

1503’s 2011 simplicity.

5254’s cots usage.

148 2012 stinger


People talking about 1717 and 2910 as the swerve kings, the true king has to be 16 though.

971 robots were cool, not sure how much they “changed” FRC though. Too ahead of their time probably.

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The OG Ri3D bot

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We (2337) only did it once during the actual season.

Climb starts at about 2 minutes in, the crowd went nuts when it happened.

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