Robots that Changed FRC

1501 also had a similar after-buzzer lift in 2007. Both 67 and 1625 were able to see it up close at IRI that year, so maybe that is where they go the idea from?

I think regional bias is another factor. The most enthusiastic or interested 1732 has ever been in developing a swerve was in 2014 after seeing 2481 and 2451 win both our regionals and do well at the championship with swerve drives. While great, they obviously were not the first or only teams to do well with swerve that year, but all of our students saw them up close.


Swerve prior to 2910 (and even 2767) was either very successful for teams with high resources or poorly done by teams that didn’t. Swerve also was considered more fragile on any field. Swerve has now been shown to be more durable and programming is more straightforward. In addition the prevalence of practice bots gave drivers more time to practice with the new system.


I was digging through some old footage and I think this video shows 16 in action.
Very weird manipulator if you ask me.

1 Like

Thanks for finding that Boilermaker 2005 video. 16 was at the St. Louis Regional that year, so I recall inspecting their robot and asking about how the corkscrew was made. They had it working better the following week.

Off-topic: I love seeing old videos that, like the one linked above, are not linked on TBA. They recall a time when the FRC community’s approach to strategy, design choices, handicapping matches, and general attitude about Regional competition was much less data-driven that it has become now. We were a much more subjective bunch back then.


It was a great era for those teams who were already data-driven. :man_shrugging:


Did you practice this prior to your first event or something? My recollection was teams were doing this at week 1 events and a quick glance at some tape seems to confirm that.

1 Like

If I recall correctly, “slam” auto defense was somewhat of a thing in 2003 and 2004 (woe betide anybody in the way of 60 or 254 in 2004 as they charged to trip the ball releases!), less of an issue in 2005 due to the goals and randomly-placed tetras, and a major “thing” in 2006. It wasn’t specifically banned until 2010, though, as I recall there being some chance for interference in 2007, and there was DEFINITELY ramming in 2009 (though more aimed at “run from HP, if you can find opponent hit their trailer”). 2008 had some interference but it was usually more incidental than anything due to the game. In and after 2010, there’s been a line that you can’t go past in auto (though IIRC it was somewhat relaxed in 2018), though penalties vary based on if you hit anything or not, and how far over.

But that did remind me of something…

The OTHER robot in 2003 that created some issues was 60. Not because they expanded over the walls like 68 did, but because when they were deployed, you couldn’t see through their large mesh “sail”. They could (it was white on one side, black on the other–it’s easier to see through black mesh than white mesh). In 2004, and since then, vision obstructions have been specifically banned (except for Sandstorm in 2019)–and that’s since been extended to cameras on the robots as well as the drivers in the station.

Oh, and one other robot, or rather set of robots, that changed FRC:

FRC357, in the mid 2000s (2005 and 2006 specifically). Due to this team’s robots in that timeframe, a number of other teams have ended up on Do Not Pick lists… and a number of other robots sport vectored intake wheels. That’s right, I’m referring to the team that introduced mecanum wheels to FRC drivetrains. Shortly afterwards, mecanums became COTS items at AndyMark. Now, I will say that 357’s Jester Drive had a number of other virtues, including that it got the team interested in molding urethane, which led to some other cool things (and as I recall at least one was patented?) like easier 80-20 elevators.

357 did NOT have the first non-swerve omni-directional drive, however. I can’t recall the team number that first ran Kiwi drive–anybody got a number offhand? They kinda seem to have had a big impact over the long run…

It was either 221 or 857. Paging @ajlapp

I’m always fuzzy on what years were which.

FRC190 also used mecanum wheels in 2005, I remember seeing them for the first time in action as a student and being overly interested in them.

1 Like

I think overall, 357 had the bigger impact initially, due to their 2006 Behind the Design chapter. That said, their general design (the “center pillar” subtype) isn’t as common as the “two side plates” design used in most cases today.

Semi-related note

330 was exploring the concept at the time, but the closest they ever got to fielding a multi-directional drive was either the 2009 robot or the 2010 robot (which used 2 omnis and 2 traction/pneumatic). Our kit drive in 2005 saw test action with a set of wheels and it couldn’t get around a 4WD tank, let alone through it, so we stayed with 6WD drop center. Worked out pretty well… After that I think we figured “two years of development and it’s easily beaten by 6WD, shelve it until we need it”.

Here’s FRC Team 1501’s Kiwi drive in action.


We were 857 the year we debuted the first three wheeled Killough Platform.

We dubbed it Kiwi Drive because we didn’t want anyone to know about it.

Unfortunately the robot wasn’t that great…but the drivetrain technology was very cool!

We built this prototype in 2002

Before we figured out how to build decent Omni-wheels we copied the original Killough Platform…it had two spherical wheels 90-degrees out of phase.

Second prototype

Then we built a functional prototype with Omni-wheels of our own design…these were before AM. I can’t be certain but I think we independently invented this construction style in the summer/fall of 2002. :man_shrugging:

The Controller

We weren’t smart enough to program the robot…so one of our mentors cooked up this controller. It was an ingenious solution.

2003 Comp Robot

Fun FRC fact this robot caught on fire when the battery was placed leads down into the aluminum chassis. This was before insulation on the battery terminals was part of inspection. :pleading_face:


FRC176 used omni wheels on their world champ robot from 1999. Team history called them “Adam’s wheels” after one of the students involved in the design/build of them. Side note - that robot also had huge wooden cog wheels.

We ran a defensive auto during what must have been Quals 93 on Archimedes in 2003, and I doubt that we were the first to do it. 980 had a long pole that would swing out into the stack during auto. We scooted under the bar between the ramp and the field barrier to knock them out of position before their pole could reach the stack.

1 Like

I guess my memory is faulty. No real surprise there, I guess. #OldMan

Talking about the spread of data-driven decisions, we had an interesting experience at LA North this year. We went deeper into our draft list than we’ve ever had to before. I think our 2nd bot was 22nd on our list. We’ve never gone below 18th before. It was clear that the teams at LAN were doing a much better job of scouting and drafting than they had previously.


Robot in 3 Days 2013.

That year proposed a big shift by establishing a general concept for teams to follow and the impact has carried on to Everybot which is today’s generally accepted entry level concept.

I think this one robot/project has had a profound impact on today’s FRC landscape in addition to the plethora of COTS options most of which were established in that timeframe.


Similarly, 118’s Everybot gave low-resource teams a blueprint to be successful. There are so many events where we wished an Everybot was available to pick!


747 Flight Crew - FMA (folded) - In 2019. Attended multiple in-season and offseason competitions with them, and because I don’t have extensive (to a point of new levels of “helpfulness”) personal knowledge on this standpoint, I will simply add another link below to a different article that supports my argument. Essentially, I’d say their performance as a Defense-robot was outstanding and proved that there was a lot to consider in alliance selection - ideas such as picking a defense robot first. Yes, it was a lot of skill and driver strategy, but still, they were exceptional during the 2019 competition.

747 mentioned numerous times in this thread.


1 Like

when I saw this forum I instantly thought of the 118 Everybot from 2018, this bot design was WIDELY used by teams all over the world, it was even my teams inspiration for simplicity design in the 2019 game. I remember a whole finalist team of 3 Everybot iterations making it all the way to semi finals with just the lower scale domination on both sides.