FIRST Robotics Competition Blog

Don't Be Large and Another Awards Reminder

Feb 01, 2017 Written by Frank Merrick.


Don't Be Large


2017 FIRST STEAMWORKS meme Rule G04 R03

As much as we want our teams to have oversized ambitions and enthusiasm, we don’t want them to have oversized robots. This year, as indicated in the rules from the beginning and emphasized in the very first Team Update, bumpers are included in the overall robot size maximums. See rule R03 in the manual. Please read this rule a few times, memorize it, then make triple sure your robot, including bumpers and all extensions, fits in the sizes indicated.

Among all the many things a team would never want to hear at an event, near the top of the list would surely be something like “Uh, yeah, your robot is 6 inches too wide and 6 inches too long. You’ll need to trim it down before you can compete.” Seriously, it will ruin your day and more. Because that’s one thing you won’t be able to fix with duct tape and a positive attitude. 

One challenge on this is getting the word out, as it is a change in approach from prior years. While it is in the manual, and we’ve included a reminder in a Team Update, and we’re doing this blog to which we’ll be linking in a blast that goes out to all teams, it still  may not be enough. We would love zero robots to show up to events oversized. And you can help! Please spread the word – contact teams you know or have heard of nearby, put it up on your Facebook/Twitter/MyFace/YourFace/InstantFace* accounts or whatever, and help make sure everyone knows. You can be the one to save a team from some serious pain.**


Award Reminder

As we said in a blog last week award deadlines are coming up. Here’s a quick table:


Submission Process

Submitted By


Chairman's Award

Team Registration System

Student Award Submitter

Thursday, February 9, 2017, 3PM Eastern Time

Woodie Flowers Award

Team Registration System

Student Award Submitter

Thursday, February 9, 2017, 3PM Eastern Time

Dean's List Award

Team Registration System

Adult Award Submitter

Thursday, February 16, 2017, 3PM Eastern Time

Entrepreneurship Award

Team Registration System

Student Award Submitter

Thursday, February 16, 2017, 3PM Eastern Time


Those first deadlines are only about a week away! And those deadlines are firm. Missing them means your submission will not be accepted.

Also, while working on your Chairman’s Award submission, remember the common set of definitions you are required to use, about what it means to have ‘started’ a team or ‘ran’ an event, etc. This helps us make sure we are speaking a common language, and allows our judges to be able to fairly evaluate teams.

Hope you build season is going well!




** BTW, this blog constitutes my entry in the “G04/R03 Awareness Contest” being sponsored by our friends at AndyMark. And I better win. Because I was, like, up all night.

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Knowing that this could be a problem and having to blast this out time and time again, why even change the paradigm? Why didn't you just make the volume smaller and not have it include bumpers? As you so point out, if a team showed up with a robot the size of the volume (without bumpers), their season is basically over, before it even started. This is simply bad design that serves as a trap. I'm going to go out on a limb and guess this will happen to more than zero teams. Unless you're trying to teach a hard lesson (which is a poor way to inspire), why even chance it?

If I were to guess, I'd say it's because of the climb to reach the touch pad. With those particular size restrictions, the robot can't be on the floor and touching the touch pad at the same time. If it excluded the bumpers, and teams had slightly different bumper construction, there may be a situation where a team could touch the pad and then floor if they were on the outside extremes of the size limits.

This is a great question!  And it deserves a lengthy answer.  We thought hard about the implications of this change this year before we made it.

The change had very specific purposes.  We wanted to limit the amount of fuel a team could carry by limiting the volume of the robot, rather than by having an actual fuel count limit, which would have been very difficult to implement logistically.  At the same time, we wanted to allow teams to reach over their bumpers with mechanisms, including ball storage mechanisms, if they wished.  Also, we wanted to automate scoring of the 'ready for takeoff' portion of the game, in which the robots climb the ropes.  Thinking through many options for automating this, we recognized a touchpad would be simplest to implement.  However, we also wanted a high degree of confidence a robot could only operate the touchpad if it was not in contact with the floor.  If you look at the maximum diagonal of the legal robot envelopes, you will see that they are within a few inches of the height of the touchpad itself.  We thought it very unlikely that robots will take up the full corner-to-corner diagonal in their designs, or be climbing from their extreme corners, so it's almost certain that robots that are 'ready for takeoff' will actually not be touching the ground, without requiring any referee judgment calls on that, or any delays in scoring.  Within one second after the match is complete, unless something unusual happens requiring referee consultation, the score if finalized automatically and ready to be posted.

These two things together – fuel limits with over-bumper mechanisms and automated ‘ready for takeoff’ scoring, meant the simplest way for us to implement size rules was for us to give overall dimensions, rather than some more complex (and  likely more limiting for teams) set of frame perimeter plus ‘reach’ dimensions. 

We recognize this change may be a challenge for some, but we are communicating this as clearly as we can, and we believe the trade-off is worth it.  Fundamentally, it’s very easy to understand.  There are two boxes.  Your robot, with everything attached, has to fit in one of the two.   

I don't have a problem with the way the size of the robots are measured but you should have included the reason for the change and made it a little more obvious than the word "including" instead of "excluding" as it has been in the past.  How precise do the bumpers need to be made?  By nature they are flexible and therefore their size is variable.  The fabric tension alone will change the thickness.  Should we use a bumper thickness of 3.25" as implied by the rules and hope they are close enough to pass inspection?

HI Glen. You are right that bumpers are flexible.  It probably goes without saying, but inspectors will be measuring with the bumpers on.  Teams should have designed accordingly and should check their measurements with bumpers on, as soon as they are able, to prevent any unpleasant surprises.  I'm imagining that teams that don't want to tempt fate will have designed their robots assuming the bumpers they eventually put on will be slightly larger than what they are estimating, to give themselves some breathing room should things not go exactly to plan.

We have built a bot that will fit "in the box" as you said earlier. It is in that comfiguration at all times. We have built structure all the way out to the bumper perimeter because it will still fit "in the box". We went to a practice field and all the other teams said that we were breaking the rules. With two days left to build, should we be working on spare parts that keep everything inside the bumper perimeter? 

In the FRC Blog, we sometimes highlight rules teams need to pay special attention to.  This particular blog was focused on R03, as this element of the rules is a change from previous years, but this is not the only sizing or configuration rule a team must follow.  If I am understanding your situation correctly, you will want to re-read rule R02.


My name is Diana Estrada mother  of Matias Osuna from Medellín, Colombia. My son has registered for the event in March, but I haven't received the confirmation email. Could you please help me out?

Thank you

Hi Diana! 

Please contact us at

Thank you!

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