This came up in another thread recently, and the more I think about it the more concerned I am. The designs this year range up to 15 feet tall, and some hold multiple 8-pound tetras. These robots are going to fall over, and some are going to fall outside the arena.
Who among us is happy about the risks to our students from falling robots and tetras? I think the rigid application of the safety-glasses rule is a great first step, but I think we should also require hardhats (or similar headgear like bicycle helmets) on anyone within five meters of the arena when robots are practicing or competing. Hardhats cost less than $7 each.
In 2003, I was always worried that some of those teams with arms to knock down the crates at the start of the match would program there robot backwards and it would swing out and hit all the volunteers on the side of the field (and the expensive flat screen tv). It never happened mind you.
OK, I’m a zealot. I found this post in the archives from 2002:
"At the Otis Elevator Farmington pit area, you will always see every member of the pit crew wearing safety glasses. Not only that, if they are touching the robot, they will have a hard hat on.
"Sure, some may think this is dorky, but after witnessing a severe accident at the nationals a few years ago, I would never think twice about wearing one. We were in our pit and diagonally across from us another team was working on their robot and they had a section of the goal in their pit area to test their design with. Well, we began to notice that the piece of goal started to sway and anyone who knows those pieces of iron pipe, they are quite hard and heavy. A member of our team went over to offer them our hard hats in an effort to protect them from harm. They laughed in our teammate’s face. He returned to our pit area and said they didn’t want them. No more than a minute later, the piece of goal fell and split this person’s head open and needed to get to paramedics immediately.
“No one hesitates to wear a hard hat on our team from that point on. In fact, the OTIS yellow hardhats have become a signature item. Look for them later this week, and by all means stop by and ask to borrow them if you at all feel there is risk of injury. Team 178 is here to help!”
They cost $7 and the workers at the World Trade Center construction site all wear them. How can that be uncool? (My own hard hat is one that I wore at ground zero when I had the privelege of doing some consulting there in 2003.)