Withholding Allowance

And you know this because …???

This needs some clarification… if this is true… it is a disconcerting turn of events for FIRST.


While this seems odd, what rule, exactly, would prevent it? Only what’s going out on the field has to be sub 120lbs, not everything in the bag…

Welp looks like next year we will be bagging buildings.

news flash… this just in from FIRST…

Next year’s bag limit will be changed to a limit based on volume.

The maximum volume of what you can bring in your bag will be 10’ X 10’ X 10’ for most venues…

Oh boy… here I go again.

As the team with that second “robot”… I can tell you exactly what happened from my point of view (For everyone who has been wondering what 900 is up to this season, here ya go). Before I do, I want to say thank you to Jon and Frank from FIRST for working with us to clarify the rules and for being gracious professionals. Also, a massive thank you to all of the volunteers, staff, and especially the robot inspectors for the Palmetto regional. It has always been my personal favorite regional event to attend and you are the reason why.

We tagged two bags on Tuesday night before midnight (just like everyone else) and then we drove down to the event on Wednesday. It made no sense to us to leave our practice “robot” sitting in our lab when we could just bag it and use it as spare parts. We arrived at the venue for load-in and immediately explained the second bag to the inspector who checked us in (Hi Ben!).

The next morning (Thursday) we were the first team to weigh in for inspection and then we helped walk about 5 inspectors through the robot inspection process. Both the robot and spare parts were in our pit at this point and as we explained to everyone who asked about the well constructed set of spare parts, it would NEVER touch the real field without going through inspection (and it never did!!!).

The only thing we were asked to do was to not take up space on or near the practice field with our spare parts if the ROBOT was on the real field or in the queue for the real field. Eventually someone (I don’t know who) said something and the ban hammer came down hard and fast. We were told to cease operations on the spare parts and we did for about 2 hours on Thursday. At that point, Frank was on his way to the venue and we were waiting on him to arrive and give us a final ruling on our interpretation of the rules.

Frank arrived and I imagine a lively debate was had. We were eventually given the approval to go back to work with our spare parts and again the provision was that the spare parts should not be on or near the practice field if the ROBOT was on the real field.

We had a dynamics problem that was causing some pain for our driver while crossing defenses with the ROBOT. We ended up having to buy leg weights from the local Wal-Mart on Thursday night and adding them to the robot Friday morning. We went through an inspection after adding them to the ROBOT per the rules. It brought our weight up to ~117 and fixed(-ish) the dynamics problem.

Now is where it gets interesting… We had been modifying the spare parts to a lower height on Friday morning/afternoon to solve the dynamics problem more permanently. At the end of the day on Friday we made a choice to pull the shortened mechanism (shooter assembly and superstructure) from the spare parts and place it on the ROBOT after removing the full-height mechanism from the ROBOT. It was a frantic herd of Zebracorn momentum but we almost got it done completely on Friday night (Just ask 1114 how fast 900 can mobilize and they’ll tell you!).

This of course ended up with us needing to be inspected again on Saturday morning. To make matters more interesting, due to the way the scheduling worked out, we happened to be in the 3rd match of the morning on Saturday so we sent our drive team to the QUEUE to wait for the ROBOT to arrive. We went through inspection again after opening ceremonies and the inspector found things that we needed to resolve and we all missed a loose wire on our radio (this impacted us in the match so we paid a real price for all of this frantic work). We were fortunate enough to just barely make the match and the inspector had to meet up with the robot near the field to apply the inspection sticker.

I’m proud of our students and mentors. Our team likes to do fun and interesting things and this regional was no different.

For one, it needs to/should be clarified about what makes a robot a ROBOT and I suspect there will be an update on it this week. If it is the control system then can a team replace their RoboRIO legally if it breaks? Can we swap them between rounds for code updates without being reinspected? If it is the drive base then can a team swap out drive bases if they dent their frame beyond repair?

For two, my proposed solution to the potential problem is simple. GET RID OF BAG AND TAG! Build season is not 6 weeks anymore and 30 pounds of parts that doesn’t include COTS items is just silly.

First question… did you have a nice looking BOM for that second robot this time? Just kidding :slight_smile:

FIRST does define a ROBOT in the glossary (emphasis mine):

an electromechanical assembly built by an FIRST Robotics Competition Team to perform specific tasks when competing in FIRST STRONGHOLD. It includes all of the basic systems required to be an active participant in the game: power, communications, control, BUMPERS and movement. The implementation must obviously follow a design approach intended to play FIRST STRONGHOLD (e.g. a box of unassembled parts placed on the FIELD or a ROBOT designed to play a different game would not satisfy this definition)

So you need everything in order for it to classify as a robot. - parts, subassemblies, and spares are not, in and of themselves, a ROBOT.

And T15-C and -D covers your questions on RoboRio swapping, I think, as the RoboRio is a COTS item:

If a ROBOT is modified after it has passed its most recent Inspection, other than modifications
listed in A through F, that ROBOT must be re-Inspected before the ROBOT is eligible to participate in a MATCH. If any of the exceptions listed below result in a significant change to the ROBOT’S size, weight, legality, or safety, the ROBOT must be re-Inspected. When in doubt, the Team should ask to be re-Inspected.
A. Addition, relocation, or removal of fasteners (e.g. cable ties, tape, and rivets)
B. Addition, relocation, or removal of labeling or marking
C. Revision of ROBOT code
D. A replacement of a COTS component with an identical COTS component
E. A replacement of a MECHANISM with an identical MECHANISM (size, weight, material)
F. Additions, removals, or reconfiguration of ROBOT with a subset of MECHANISMS already Inspected per T14

We didn’t have a BOM for the spare parts but we did have a CAW! :smiley:

Thank you for giving us your perspective on the issues.

Thanks for your perspective. For what it is worth that matches my interpretation of the rules as they are currently written. Rather or not they are what the GDC intended, I guess we will find out when the 2017 rules come out. :] This is a little bit of an unique case since week 0.5 events are rare & not much point of bagging your practice bot for longer periods of time.

An definition observation. Take off the roborio and your practice robot is no longer a “robot”, but a collection of spare parts.

Technically, as per the definition posted above, the definition of the robot also included bumpers. Since the “spare parts” didn’t have its own set of bumpers, it couldn’t be a robot :wink:

But did the practice bot weigh more than 30 lbs? If so, I don’t see how this could ever be okay. Especially since parts were used from it on the competition robot.

I’m guessing every part on the practice robot was assembled, so none of it was COTS.

I don’t even think it matters that you modified the part that was swapped over. If that works, why can’t we all bring second robots, grab parts off and drill some holes to modify them, then slap them on the robot and say we “manufactured” them in the pits?

Why does it need to weigh less than 30 lbs? It was bagged before midnight on Tuesday. The are no restrictions on how many spare manufactured parts or extra weight you have in the bags. Where is the difference between building and bagging a spare mechanism in case the first broke?

I’ll admit I missed that part. Then I pose the same issue unless everything in all bags not including bumpers and battery weighed less than 120lbs.

Where is there a rule that says that? The only restriction is there are only two bags allowed. Whatever you can fit in them, you can carry in. No where does it say what you may or may not bag.

Section 5.3 in the administration manual refers to the robot, and as Al likes to remind us it isn’t plural for a reason.

Couple that with r5, and that is where my question comes into play.

There is nothing in the manual that limits how much stuff you stick in your bag. You could have 500 lbs in there, if it fits, but I don’t think that was really the point you were driving at… it’s all about how many ROBOTs a team can have at an event.

The question does come down to the definition of a ROBOT, which i copied in here form the manual a few posts ago. So, if something is missing one of the requirements listed in the manual definition, is it still a robot?

What about a team that brings, in its bag, an extra electrical board with everything needed on it, an extra drive train, and extra manipulators? If they are all disconnected, you’d have a very hard time arguing they were a robot, yet it may be a matter of a half hour to get everything hooked up once it’s unbagged. Is it a robot at that point? Technically, no, because it doesn’t have bumpers attached to it… but I think most people would look at it and call it a robot. Backing off a little, at what point do you NOT call it a robot and say it’s legal?

Then in another issue, how would you take modifications into account with the “one robot” philosophy? To use a simple analogy, If you have a broom and replace the handle, then later replace the bristles, is it then the same broom? Sure, that’s a little excessive, but you can see how it applies to robots - you can make legal modifications to your robot until it looks completely and totally different, yet we still call it the same robot. A few years ago in Ultimate Ascent, there was a team here in MN that used their withholding to have a different shooter at almost every event they competed in. They went from being tall to being short to being tall again, using different wheels and different designs… a lay-person, looking at snapshots of their robot throughout the season would probably have called it 3-4 different robots. But from a legality and inspection standpoint it was only 1.

So, where do you draw the line? You have to draw it somewhere, and it’s not terribly clear where that somewhere is. And even then, you can limit what’s brought in, but what happens when a team (cough 900 cough) builds a second robot from COTS parts while AT the competition?

Reading section 5.2 in the admin manual clearly calls out “the robot” and even says the two bag concept is specifically for disassembling the robot for ease
of transport. So the 120 lb limit is a part of what I’m getting at. The competition robot has a weight limit, and at stop build you bag the robot. Nothing in there says bag anything and everything you’ve built to that point.

Did they build the whole thing there from COTS components? The way I read it was they brought an assembled group of components.

I’m just looking for clarity on this, this has potential to be either a learning opportunity for a select few or a missed opportunity for a whole lot of teams.

There is no weight limit assumed for the bag based on the max robot weight. There are a countless number of teams every year who show up with an overweight robot. Implying a weight limit of 120lbs minus the bumper would disqualify every team who made an overweight robot. Really if the situation wants to be presented, it needs to be defined in the rules. Same goes for if you bagged enough spares for a second robot and gave the spares to another team. So far this seems legal according to the rules but should it be? It’s up to FIRST to decide and so far they haven’t specified any rule against it.

I would expect to see something in the update or at the very least in Frank’s blog about this.