As per H102, any robot without drivetrain wheels, gearboxes, and chains/belts, doesn’t count as a robot and as such can be brought to and used at an event. The two cases of teams bringing practice bots to events I saw this year we using them for readily available spare parts. But what if someone went farther than that?
As far as I can tell, it’s perfectly legal to take your non-driving practice bot and say tune your climb sequence on the practice field. A team could have a crew on the practice field doing that, and not have to worry about showing up to matches. What about using this incomplete robot to dial in a shooter or vision system? I understand this is more difficult with swerve robots as the gearboxes form part of the structure, but what if a team built a separate simplified frame to mount a practice bot superstructure to?
Is this an unfair advantage? Should FRC adopt vex-style 2nd robot rules? Am I using too many question marks? Am I totally missing the point and this is actually completely illegal? Would love to know what you guys think.
I’ve seen practice bots (no wheels) show up as spare parts at comps. I like this, because I’d always like to see robots at their best, so easier access to spare parts is always a plus in my book.
As for tuning climbers, shooters, and stuff…that seems a little weird, but not a strong advantage now that bag day isn’t a thing. I’m unsure if it’s legal, but it doesn’t seem that useful for most teams. Like many teams, we take advantage of the practice field, but I don’t think many practice bots are so good that you could tune things perfectly on the practice field. And I guess even if you could…you would probably be better served tuning before the event.
The blue box under H102 really highlights two parts - “bringing it to or using it at the event such that it’s an aid to your team” and “most of its drive base”. Taking a practice robot with the wheels (etc) removed to the practice field really does have one interpretation under the first part - you’re using it as an aid to your team - while having a different interpretation under the second part.
“drive base” is not a defined term in the rules. Looking at the usage in H102, “its MAJOR
MECHANISM that enables it to move around a FIELD”, and ignoring the term “drive base”, you can draw two conclusions from this year - your typical FRC drive train meets this rule, but so does a climber. Climbers this year, particularly with traversal, are definitely a MAJOR MECHANISM, and they definitely enable you to move around parts of the field. So, if you encounter volunteers with that interpretation, your practice climber can’t go to work on the practice field, and may even not be allowed in the venue.
But it’s not all about climbers. What about a pile of aluminum or wood with a shooter on top? Placing that on the practice field and shooting some balls has neither something that would normally be considered a drive base, nor any mechanism that allows it to move around the field.
Personally, I support bringing spare parts to the event, whatever form they may take. I do not support teams using anything other than their official ROBOT (the assembly that is used on the field during competition) on the practice field. I don’t think the rule is particularly well worded to make what is allowed and what is not allowed (particularly practice field, but also in terms of “will i be allowed to bring this?” and “can I use this to help talk to judges?”) clear-cut.
Just because you “can*” doesn’t mean you should. Folks complain about there being too many rules, yet also look for potential rules loopholes like this to try and gain an advantage, leading to new rules in the future.
Sometimes its worth it to just pause and ask “should I really do this? How will other teams feel about my team if I do this? Would my grandma be proud of me for doing this?”
*And it’s not even totally clear this is legal in the first place
This rule needs to be reviewed before next year’s season by ALL inspectors before next season.
I had multiple occurrences where I was asked to remove our practice bot from the event despite wheels, drive gearboxes, chain, etc having been removed. I wasn’t asked to remove the robot because it was against the rules, but because they said other teams wouldn’t understand or were asking why we were allowed to have it, and those inspectors did not want to bother having to explain it to other teams.
To me this was very unacceptable behavior. Cut and dry, if those components have been removed, then that team is allowed to have that practice robot in the competition venue; end of discussion. Any ruling otherwise, or asking a team to remove it anyway because of inconvenience is wrong and inappropriate. I went with the flow last year because it was not my final call on my team at the time to make. I doubt I will have a practice bot this year, but if I somehow do, I definitely will not bend to anything like this again.
Rules are written, and both the teams following them and the inspectors or other volunteers enforcing them should be expected to follow them. Grey areas can exist at times, but this is definitively not one of them.
This is exactly what 3512 did this season. On packup night we’d unbolt the entire shooter, intake, and climber assemblies from the practice bot. We never even considered powering up the practice bot at comp, it was a part donor only.
This saved our bacon at Ventura when after winning our 2nd quarter final we snapped a dyneema line on one of the telescoping arms. The kids an entire telescoping arm swapped out, system checked in the pit, and did a successful L4 climb on the practice field in 15 mins.
We decorated the pit truss with the spare parts which was fun:
Limiting the practice field to inspect comp bots seems perfectly reasonable to me. As far as bringing your practice bot, we would probably never bring the whole bot into the pit because it would take up to much space. Just bring the important subsystems, they’ll be faster to swap out and take up way less space if they’re already separate.