Shipping Logistics Services Presented by the Heroes of Tomorrow

We understand that constructing or modifying a crate, arranging pickup, and worrying if your robot will arrive on time and in one piece can be very stressful for teams – especially if you just found out you’re going to North Champs and you need to worry about lodging, funds, etc. We hope to alleviate some of this stress by providing an easy crate solution and helping to find a local drayage and transportation solution for teams that are within driving distance to Detroit. This is completely hassle free and far more environmentally friendly than using FedEx and does not require a special vehicle if you do not have a loading dock.

The shipping requirements for FIRST are outlined here: Robot Transportation | FIRST

Teams may ship their robot to any event at their own cost without receiving an approved Robot Transportation Exemption from FIRST, however, teams MAY NOT ship their crate directly to the venue. You must make other arrangements to get your robot to the event. See the section below: “Denied Robot Transportation Exemption Requests” for suggestions.

Here’s how it works:

You will need to acquire a “crate”. I recommend you acquire a plastic one approximately 2 mm thick and flexible enough to conform to the size of your robot. You probably have something like this in your shop, it’s likely very close to your robot at the moment.

Remember do NOT ship your robot to the venue. You need to find a local Drayage Location near the venue. We can help with this. We will find you a local drayage that is driving distance to the venue. We guarantee it will be no further than what you would consider driving distance to Detroit, unfortunately it will likely be no closer than your shop.

Instead of contacting a shipping carrier in your area and requesting a quote to ship your robot to the drayage, we will recommend local STEM enthusiasts who can help you hand carry it to the drayage for free – this is step one of the savings.

Now the hard part – getting it from the drayage to the venue. We will help you find a team that is driving from your drayage location to the Detroit event. This might be difficult to arrange, but we’re confident there’s at least one team who is also storing their tools and robot cart at your drayage location and they likely have room on their truck / trailer for your “crate”.

Return shipping – This is the easiest part. Don’t. Throw away your crate at the venue.

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Have you run this past FIRST? Something tells me this is not an intended way to get around shipping it using the FedEx donation that teams going to champs get…

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this really makes my thinker the big thinker

The FedEx donation over complicates getting local robots to championship (although the fact that it is donated is appreciated). Utilizing a local drayage (your shop) and “paying” your own shipping is allowed in the shipping guidelines so why would I need to run it by FIRST?

Given the section immediately above the one you quoted, I personally would want to check. I’d hate for something that’s miss-worded on the site to impact you and potentially other teams.

Robots competing at the FIRST Championship must be shipped as soon as you have secured your spot, completed payment and received your shipping documents, and no later than the deadline provided to your team with your shipping documents.
FIRST will not be responsible for any robots not shipped by teams per instructions. Failure to ship robots in a timely fashion could result in robots arriving late to the FIRST Championship with the potential to miss matches.

There have been local teams attending champs for a long time - teams from the St. Louis area, teams from the Houston area, etc. I don’t recall any of them carrying in their robots… I personally wouldn’t want to take the risk based on the assumption that I read a loop-hole in their website. What do you do if they stop you at the door and say “You were supposed to ship your robot. We can’t let you just carry it in, you’ll have to find those shipping docs we sent you and ship it. Yes, it’ll arrive late, but that’s not our responsibility.”?

Any volunteer or event manager etc who acts that way should not be working for FIRST. Teams should try their best to follow the rules but no one in their right mind is gonna make you ship the robot to the competition it’s currently at.

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Who is “they”?

And what we have here is a team that is, quite possibly, disregarding said rules. Savvy? If a team (deliberately)doesn’t follow the rules and gets penalized, it is 100% the team’s fault. Whether the penalty fits the crime is another discussion. I would consider making a non-compliant team compliant as a “crime-fitting” penalty, however it that also makes that team non-playing then it’s a bit of an issue.

What would probably happen would be a big discussion with Frank and other HQ folks. I would suspect that the teams would be allowed to compete but under a significant time penalty for entry (see also: big discussion with Frank takes up lots of time).

Also: Remember that there are specifications for “crates”. A robot bag doesn’t exactly meet those specifications for some reason, starting with the skids required underneath.

So what part of the provided text are they actually missing with this strategy?

What is to be gained from local teams shipping to the event? Or is this just part of the challenge?

This sounds like a pretty HOT topic to me.

Yes but there has never been this large of a group of local teams. For most Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, and even some NE teams it’s more convenient for them to handle their own robot transport than have to spend time and money on a crate.

I get the reasoning behind “we’ve always done it this way”. But its a huge waste of resources for what id estimate to be about 100 teams that would rather load in their robot themselves.

Why would FedEx as a corporation in capitalist America not commend HOT on such a cost saving strategy?

Local teams shipping things via sounds…dumb at best. Isn’t that the whole point of the bag?

It might be because -

There are union rules and agreements that said the facility would handle moving robots and robot crates.

FIRST does not want teams carrying in their robots - it is quicker and safer if they are in their pit, in a crate, when teams arrive with their tools and carts.

It sounded to me like subcontracted shipping agents of the Heroes of Tomorrow logistics service would be the ones carrying in the robots.

Personally i think loading in a robot is a lot safer than our 400 pound toolbox…

We load in at least 600, if not more, pounds of materials to our district championship event, excluding our robot and its bumpers. We will do the same for the Detroit Postseason Expo.

Often with rules the intent is obvious. Then there are the others rules that are not so much. What is the intent of the “Every Team Must ship to champs”? I can see maybe to reduce the gear a team loads in but really in many cases is there a savings? I know our team now has three carts that one is mostly empty with out the robot.

To chime in hear, we have two road cases for our pit, each weighing in at ~1000 lbs each, and we don’t have the heaviest pit out there (looking at you 973 :wink: )

The robot is less than 10% of our total pit mass.

Personally, I think one of the most unsafe part of Champs is all of the empty robot crates stuffed in all the pit aisles during Load-In on Wednesday. Very unsafe situations happening in nearly every pit as students attempt to move large wooden boxes around in tight spaces, whiles also working on their robot and setting up their pit structures. The pits would be much safer without all the robot crates strewn about.


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i am not arguing for or against - simply stating a few reasons why the rules might be there.

It’s event more convenient for my team to carry it in than it is to ship it. I’m not saying it’s the best system… but I’m saying I wouldn’t take the risk without first talking to HQ about the plan to make sure it’s allowed!