FRC Blog

You-Bring-It to FIRST Championship

Dec 16, 2019 Written by Frank Merrick.

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Teams can bring their robots to Championship! FIRST Robotics Competition

Pilot no more! At both 2020 FIRST Championship locations, all teams will be able to bring their competition robots into the event themselves if they choose to do so. And teams who choose not to bring their robot themselves will still be able to get shipping vouchers from our good friends at FedEx.

 

The 2019 pilot at FIRST Championship Detroit testing this You-Bring-It concept was a tremendous success, and the teams participating in the pilot were a significant factor in that. They were well organized, and most importantly, safe. Here’s an interesting fact: teams who brought their robots to the FIRST Championship Detroit actually spent less time on the loading dock on average than teams who did not bring their robot. Yeah, we measured it, and OK, the difference was less than one minute, but we think this shows teams can be both efficient and safe while moving all their equipment to their pits.

 

Here’s how the program will work:

Once you qualify for Championship, you will get an email asking you if you want to bring your robot to Championship yourself or ship it via FedEx. You must select one or the other, as there will be no ‘default’ option.

  • If you say you want to bring your robot yourself, you bring your one competition robot to Championship along with all your other pit equipment.
  • If you say you want to ship your robot, we will get you a shipping voucher and a ship-not-later than date. Currently planned ship-not-later-than dates are as follows:
    • Houston
      • Regional Competition Weeks 1-4:  Ship by 3/27
      • Regional Competition Weeks 5-6:  Ship by 4/7
      • PNW and Texas Week 6 District Championships: Ship by 4/7
    • Detroit
      • Competition Week 1-6:  Ship by 4/10
      • District Championships: Ship by the Wednesday after the District Championship
    • Teams that don’t ship by these deadlines risk their robots not arriving at Championship in time for the event.
  • Teams will not be allowed to use a FedEx shipping voucher exclusively for pit equipment/other non-robot items. Using a voucher in this way is considered an abuse of the system. If you are shipping, your robot must be in the crate.

 

We recognize that teams who are shipping their robots are at a disadvantage, as they can’t continue to work on them up until just before Championship. While we think we can’t make this situation perfectly fair without somehow re-introducing a bag concept similar to the one we’re trying to retire, we will be taking some steps to reduce the disadvantage. The details are still being worked out, but at this time we are planning to:

  • Allow early pit access for six team members from each team that is shipping its robot. Access will start two hours before load-in and each of these teams will be able to carry in one tote of tools/parts to start work on their robots.
  • Give teams shipping their robot a priority pass at Championship that will, on Wednesday only,
    • Give them exclusive access to the ‘playground’ (non-official/wooden) practice fields several hours before those fields open to all teams
    • Give them access to a priority lane for the full official practice fields, which will be drawn from before any teams in the non-priority lane are allowed on the field

Decisions regarding our continuation of the You-Bring-It program for Championship will be made year by year. The situation at the Championship venues may change in the future, requiring all teams once again to ship their robots. Or, the increased amount of equipment being brought in through the docks may lead to increased load-in times or unsafe conditions. Teams bringing their robots to Championship in 2020 can do their part by emulating the participants in the 2019 pilot: minimize the amount of equipment you are bringing in, have a plan that includes assigned jobs for all, and most importantly, put safety first!

 

It’s going to be a great season!

 

Frank

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Comments

Are there teams that might qualify during weeks 1 through 4 for the Houston championship but still be scheduled for a event that would require them to keep their robot past March 27th? Will reasonable accommodations be made for these teams besides restricting them to bringing their robot?

Sorry for not being clear on that. The shipping deadlines in the blog are based on your last official competition, not the competition at which you qualified for FIRST Championship. 

Will there be any reduction in the Registration Fee if a team plans to transport their own robot? 

No, there will be no reduction in registration fees for teams that transport their own robots. The FIRST Championship registration fee is held constant for all teams regardless of the offered services (shipping, drayage, machine shop, spare parts, etc) individual teams choose to take advantage of.  Also, our good friends at FedEx generously donate FIRST Championship robot shipping at no cost to FIRST. 

I suggest that the limitation of one tote of tools and parts allowed in early may be insufficient, especially if a team has built larger assemblies to replace on their robot (robots do tend to get damaged during the season and a team may need to so some serious repair if their robot left their last competition damaged). Non-shipping teams would have the opportunity to replace entire assemblies, where shipping teams might not. Please consider ways to allow shipping teams to bring in the parts that they need to get their robots functional again, even if it means bringing in more than a tote of parts and tools.

While we are still working out the details, our challenge is that teams with early pit access will likely need to come in through the front doors instead of the dock. We need to keep this early access process safe and manageable, and we believe this is most easily done by restricting material coming in. We recognize this is not ideal, but teams should plan ahead for this restriction, recognizing that they will get full access to their materials when the rest comes in through the dock area during normal load-in. Also, this process is sure to evolve in later years as we learn where the weaknesses are.

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