FIRST Robotics Competition Blog

Pool Noodles!

Aug 30, 2017 Written by Frank Merrick

You will need pool noodles to construct robot bumpers for the 2018 game. Among other things, this enhances the buoyancy of your robot.*

Just like in the 2017 rules, pool noodles must be approximately 2.5 inches in diameter and round, hexagonal, or petal-shaped in cross section. They may be either solid or hollow. However, all pool noodles used on a single set of bumpers must be of the same construction. As an example, you won’t be allowed to use a petal-shaped hollow noodle in the top portion of your bumper and a round solid pool noodle in the bottom of your bumper.

A petal-shaped cross section looks like this:

”Petal Noodle

Petal-shaped pool noodle cross section. Photo credit. 

As a rule of thumb, we don’t release robot rules before kickoff. In this case, though, we think pool noodles for many teams are easier to get now than in January.


*Please note that I didn't say robot buoyancy would actually be a desirable characteristic.

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Great advice to purchase now. Supplies add up very quickly especially for a rookie team. 

Pool noodles can be hard to find after summer, especially in northern states, so get them now.  Our team had to raid a family's swim toys one year because we failed to buy some early.

Hmmmmm, what are you getting at Frank? Buoyancy = weight of displaced fluid? HMMMMMMMMMM


OK, our team ,as a rookie team, was greatly impacted by the use of the inconsistence size of pool noodles inside the bumpers in the determining robot size and  having to modify the bumps before we could practice.

Now, "Buy Pool Noodles". There are enough item for teams like the ambiguity of finding out which event you get to go to.

Can you please give us a more qualitative number of noodles or enough information to allow us to make a realistic determination of the number we will need.


We don't want to give too much away, but you will need approximately 36 feet of pool noodles to build one set of bumpers. This assumes you will have some waste. Note that this is for one set of bumpers only. If you want to build multiple sets for the different alliance colors, you will need more. 

The Rumors are true! It going to be a water game 

When it says "approximately 2.5 inches" and you can only find 3 inch diameter ones, is this ok or do I have to keep looking? Very limited pool noodle supply here in Michigan at the moment. 

Purchased noodles from end of year clearance, 25 cents each, diameter is 2.3 inches.  Are these close enough for the bumpers ?

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