Swapping Mechanisms Multiple Times at Competitions

Our team was doing some research, and couldn’t come up with a definite answer for our question of “can you switch mechanisms multiple times during a competition” in this years game manual. We were looking at doing something with multiple methods of scoring such as a dump and shooter, and wanted to know if there was anything stopping us from doing that.

The closest rule that I can find on the topics are rules I2, I3, and I4 here which just state that the robots just need to be reinspected after changes, and that everything needs to be brought up to every inspection.

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I think those rules point to the answer that you can, provided you have the time to get it reinspected after you change mechanisms. If the parts are attatched to another robot you brought it could be an issue (C5) but otherwise I can’t think of anything else!

There are some important issues you’re glossing over. For instance: if you initially inspect both configurations and they’re under a certain weight limit as a pair, and each on the robot is under the robot weight limit, then going between them doesn’t require reinspection. But if they aren’t under that limit, you’re inviting extra LRI scrutiny after a couple cycles back and forth.

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And don’t forget I5, which says you can’t use I4 to get around the 150 lbs total configuration weight limit by continuously reinspecting.

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In summary:

If under 150 pounds total (all parts) , you can get inspected in all configurations (each configuration under 125 pounds), you can swap back and forth to your heart’s content.

If over 150 pounds total (all parts), you can submit 150 pounds total to inspection and swap within that. Swapping to something else requires that you legally brought it in (C5), and triggers I4, with the restrictions that swapping back and forth will shortly trigger I5 and the LRI will make you pick a configuration for the remainder of the event.

We did exactly this last year. We had both a hatch panel and cargo manipulator. We inspected with both on and were under weight limit after putting both on and the LRI said we didn’t have to reinspect if we swapped during a competition. Never had issues. However, I would advise against this strategy because it is harder to perfect two mechanisms than just one more complex one and it strains driver practice time.

If I was going to do something like this… Say for 2 devices that would alternately occupy the same space. I’d want to make a single interface. That way there would be no dangling wires or pneumatics. Something of a “Hot Swap-able” ish device.

We did this in 2015 (I know this is a long time ago). We had one configuration with a ramp in the corner and another where we used can burglars at the start of the match. We weren’t under weight with both so we had to get reinspected every time we swapped.

However, we alerted the the Robot Inspectors at the start of the competitions and reinspection was actually quite painless. The reinspection mostly consisted of measuring the weight (however that year didn’t have frame perimeter rules). I wouldn’t be that concerned about reinspection as long as you alert the LRI as soon as you load in so they can be prepared.

It likely will depend on the event, the LRI and how busy everyone is. Given that the rules specifically state that the LRI can invoke I5 and force you to pick a configuration, means I would not plan a strategy around being able to do it. The blue box example has the LRI saying no more, after the second swap back (ie 4 matches).

My answer would be: Depends on the good graces of the LRI and are the Inspectors under him/her willing to play that game. And you will get scrutiny from the Field Staff/Referees as they will question what your doing and are you trying to play fast and loose with the rules. Is that worth it, IMHO no, better to build a robot that has everything on board all at the same time.

It also may confuse folks scouting your robot. Done really well it certainly could create a competitive advantage, but I think it has more potential downside than upside.