February 13, 2018

The Robot Access Period and You!

All Georgia FRC teams are are part of the Peachtree District and District events are shorter than Regional events (because we have more of them) and don’t allow as much time for teams to work on robots during the competition as teams attending the Regional events do.  In order to level the playing field for District teams, the Robot Access Period was created.  In the game manual, the key rules are as follows:

R20.  Teams permitted to use the ROBOT Access Period per R19-G may only unlock their ROBOT for a total of six (6) hours during the 7-day period preceding any 2-day event in which their Team will be competing with their ROBOT.

The six hours may be broken up in any way the team wishes, with the exception that no single access period may be shorter than two (2) hours.

The ROBOT must be locked up between sessions which must be documented on the ROBOT Lock-up Form.

R21.  If the ROBOT is accessed before the event, the unbagging must be noted on the ROBOT Lock- up form and the ROBOT must be rebagged. The ROBOT must remain sealed in the bag until:

  • Your ROBOT Lock-up Form has been checked and approved by an Inspector and
  • The pits have officially been opened for ROBOT work.

So, what exactly does that mean for you?  It’s not too difficult, but there are a couple of things that can trip you up if you’re not paying close attention.

First, note that the Robot Access Period only applies to the week before an event you’re actually competing in, not each of the District’s events.  So, if your team’s first event is in Albany on March 15-17th, then your robot has to stay bagged (except for showing it off or pre-inspection, per R19) until March 8th (7 days preceding your event).  At that time, you can use the Robot Access Period.  After Albany is over on the 17th, it gets re-bagged and stays bagged until the week preceding your next event.

Note, however, that the State Championship does not count as a regular District event, so there is no Robot Access Period preceding that event in Athens.  You’ll have a full day at the event to access the robot, though I’m sure that issues with the robot will be completely resolved long before then anyhow, so everybody can just chill that week.

During the Robot Access Period, you can open the bag (and log it on your Lock-up Form!) to work on the robot, with some restrictions.  Every time your bag is opened, it counts as a 2 hour period minimum – even if you open and spend 10 minutes measuring, you’ve used 2 hours.  What that means is, you can only open your bag to work on the robot a maximum of 3 times.  I’ll repeat – a maximum of 3 times, each open counts as a minimum of 2 hours, and you’re limited to no more than 6 hours of work.  How about some examples?

  • Un-bag on day 1, work on the robot for 6 hours, re-bag.  You’re done for the rest of the week.
  • Un-bag on day 1, work for 3 hours, re-bag.  Un-bag on day 4 and work for 3 hours, re-bag.  You’re done.
  • Un-bag on day 1, work for 2 hours, re-bag.  Un-bag on day 3, work for 2 hours, re-bag.  Un-bag on day 5, work for 2 hours, re-bag.  You’re done.
  • Un-bag on day 1, work for 15 minutes, re-bag.  Un-bag on day 2, work for 2 1/2 hours, re-bag.  You’re done, because that first day counts as 2 hours, and if you open it a third time, it also counts as 2 hours, which would add up to 6 1/2 hours of work, which is not allowed!
  • Un-bag on day 1, work for 2:15, re-bag.  Un-bag on day 4, work for 3:45, re-bag.  You’re done.
  • Un-bag on day 1, work for 4 1/2 hours, re-bag.  You’re done.  Again, any other un-bagging counts as 2 hours, so you’ll be over the limit.

Plan your time well to make the best use of the Robot Access Period.  Inspectors will be checking the dates and times, and even doing the math to verify teams are complying with the rules.

Here are some more examples on a sample Robot Lock-up Form.