You might have noticed the sudden burst of teams posting links to their prior year’s code and CAD drawings on Chief Delphi. Wondering why? Read on.
R16 of the 2019 Game and Season Manual says:
Software and mechanical/electrical designs created before Kickoff are only permitted if the source files (complete information sufficient to produce the design) are available publicly prior to Kickoff.
While we don’t know what the rules are for 2020*, that rule has been present for many years. Despite the changes to remove the bag rules, veteran FRC odds-makers are betting that you’ll see a similar rule again this Saturday when you enter the magic password. No, I don’t know anything more about the 2020 rules than you do.
So, if you have that regional-winning robot vision library, or that crazy 5 RedLine continuously variable gearbox from last year’s bot, or a sick SLAM** solution and want to use it on this year’s robot, you need to publish the design.
What does publish mean? The examples in the rules all say:
- post it in a generally accessible public forum
- make the code available to all Teams
Do you really want to get into an argument with the robot inspector over where the design was posted? If you post it on CD, no self respecting RI*** will challenge you.
A story. A couple years ago at a competition I was asked to consult on a robot’s control system issue. We spent quite a bit of time going through the source code of the robot to see what the issue was. Reading the source code, it was clear to me that the code represented many years worth of work.
After the competition, I took a look around for the team’s code, and wasn’t able to find it online anywhere. That’s not right.
The concept behind this rule is that the work product – the robot and its code – represents the work of the current team. Sharing of designs and source code helps level the playing field and increases the quality of robots from all teams. It deliberately reduces the (big) advantage that veteran teams have over new ones. This sharing is a big reason why FRC robots do more amazing things each year. I like amazing. You’d like it too if you watched 400 matches a year.
Finally, a personal note. I love reading team’s robot code, and would love to see more published code to look at.
So, there you go. Publishing your code and designs = good. Go do it now.
* HT Marshall on the conundrum this creates.
** You’ll have to look it up. We can’t do all of the work for you.
*** I’m still trying to decide whether Jon Stratis falls into this category. Your feedback invited via DM on the board.