Working on your 2020 Robot for 2021

In the immediate aftermath of FIRST’s announcement to replay Infinite Recharge in 2021, I’ve already heard a number of different teams say they’re excited to get back to work on their 2020 robots in preparation for 2021.

I’d like to caution against this idea for a number of reasons, especially if you’re planning on working on your 2020 robot to gain a competitive advantage for 2021.

FIRST is liable to change the game such that your existing robot won’t be able to play it as is. Nobody knows what changes they will make, and any resources spent between now and 2021’s kickoff would be speculative that FIRST doesn’t change the game significantly, and allows teams to reuse their 2020 robots. These things can probably be assumed due to FIRST’s apparent efforts to conserve resources, but they’re not guaranteed.

In an effort to conserve resources, it might be best for most teams to minimize the amount of money they spend on their 2020 robot. Money will be harder to come by in the post COVID-19 economy. Sponsors will be tightening their belts, which means FRC teams need to do the same.

This all may be a moot point since we have no idea when teams will be allowed into their schools to resume their “normal activities”. The answer to that question will also be different depending on your region and the state of the virus.

There’s also the fact that we aren’t even sure if the 2021 season will occur…

If you’re complying with local safety recommendations, and you’re aware of the fact that any work you do on your 2020 robot has the potential to be wasted effort when it comes to the 2021 season, then it may make sense to continue work on your 2020 robot. It’s still a great learning/training tool for your team.

If you do plan to work on your 2020 robot, I strongly suggest that you spend your resources with FRC specific suppliers who are certainly going to be impacted by this decision as much or more than anybody. Support them so they can be around to support our program.


On a follow-up note…

This is a fantastic opportunity to learn/practice CAD— you can go a long ways designing upgrades before implementing them.


Great advice, y’all.

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On another follow up note:

You can do tons of software development without buying new parts either. Learn new features of the tools you have. Play with more advanced simulations. Write wrappers and helper classes you will reuse over and over again.

One thing I considered doing was seeing how many different configurations of drivebases I could write and it gave me some interesting ideas for improving our current code.


Are they going to change the R15 about software, mechanical, electrical designs created before kickoff having to be shared? If not, I am going to be excited to see a bunch of CAD and programming.


I honestly feel that this should be treated like offseason time or an offseason competition preparation thingy. I would encourage teams to try new designs and models, and if they’re lucky, just put those practice models onto their 2020 bots for '21 if required. There are a lot of general improvements that can be done to robots. For example, adding a swerve drive would be nice. Also improving programming and CAD skills, as mentioned :slight_smile:

These are just my opinions. Best of luck to everyone!

They are going to be changing the various rules of that nature. However, it remains to be seen what those changes will involve.

I’m not sure I can fully get behind this line of reasoning. Although it would be insensitive of me to insist too strongly—since the circumstances of many individuals certainly don’t resemble normalcy at the moment—this seems overly cautious.

The sooner we collectively internalize the idea that many things will be able to approach normal without abandoning the most effective public health precautions, the sooner things will seem normal and therefore the stakeholders upon which teams depend (sponsors, school administrators, etc.) will afford teams the support that they desire. By contrast, if we drop everything so as to be assured that we won’t be making things a lot worse by overspending, we may nevertheless make things a little worse by missing opportunities that may not otherwise reveal themselves.

In economic terms, the recovery will depend on public confidence (because that drives demand), and public confidence depends on seeing people successfully take good risks. I think that while some teams certainly aren’t in a position to take many risks right now, there are quite a number for which a little risk would be a salutary exercise.

So I might give different advice: don’t spend your last dollar on a 2020-style robot, but feel free to put quite a lot of work into it, because even if circumstances turn out reasonably badly, you’ll mainly be out the cost of a robot, while you’ll have gained skills that will improve the process of building the next one. The time you have before next season is also a resource that you should consider not wasting.


While I do agree, I thing some changes can be made pretty safely with there announcement. For example making a good turreted hooded shooter.

Also a colour wheel manipulator.

I think that working on our robots to gain a competitive advantage not only is a not only a good exercise but also has a pretty good risk-reward payoff. If you are able to make changes and test your robot, definitely do so! For many reasons, I don’t think FIRST is going to try to make you build a new robot or make significant changes to your current one for 2021. They won’t want to put monetary stress on themselves or their teams, is a big reason that I can think of right now. I predict that the change in the game will be very minimal in terms of the field and game elements, and will most likely will be solely to the rules in order to change the strategy of the game. (switching how you get RPs or something like that) Even if they do change the game, most likely it will be something that your team can handle even with the modifications you already made, provided you have enough funds. It won’t be much different than adding a different iteration of a mechanism that you already have. I do think that you raise a very good point that teams should try to be conservative, leave some more carry over in the budget than usual this year, and definitely try to buy from FRC-specific suppliers.

Reply hazy; ask again later.

Work on improvements for 2020 and incorporate upcoming rule changes/game challenges for 2021. Hope for good scheduling and do your best. I suspect that 2020 will be 90+% of 2021. I could be wrong but judging the overall effort required , I could be right. As you can’t change too much to get to where the overall multi-season event makes sense. I was correct on them not trashing 2 weeks of 2020. So I venture an educated guess here too,

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I think this is the key for me.

If we work on improving all of the aspects of the robot to play the 2020 game, then 90+% of those improvements are going to be applicable to the 2021 game.


I don’t read all of FIRST’s email blasts thoroughly, so I’m not sure if this has been answered yet or not. Has FIRST made an announcement relaxing the ‘built or designed or programmed’ before build season restrictions?

Do you also advise eating cookies while you CAD?


FAQ #16.

Yes, but only occasionally. Try to maintain a healthy diet!