689: FIRST Design
Title text: Pool on the roof must've sprung a leak.
Two members of a team are designing a robot for the 2010 FIRST Robotics Competition, in which teams design robots to push soccer balls into their team's goals. The final design for this team's robot is a trailer with a matchbox on a telescoping pole and the actual robot, a mobile platform with an umbrella on top and pusher in front.
This is an underhanded design, exploiting the presence of a heat-activated sprinkler system at the venue and lack of water resistance in the opposing team's equipment.
When the event starts, the robot moves off and deploys its umbrella. The trailer extends its arm, causing a lit match to set off the sprinkler, which causes the opposing robots to short out and malfunction. This allows the umbrella-protected robot to score goals without opposition.
This may also be referencing how FIRST is famous for its bending of the rules, as loopholes are not only not against the rules, they are encouraged. This would be shown best by how Team 67 designed a robot that utilized a loophole, which allowed them to control a robot using an Xbox Kinect during the time where the robot is supposed to be autonomous. (This loophole has been removed in the rules for more recent competitions.) Note, however, that this would be simply illegal based of the 2010 FRC Breakaway rules, as rule S01 under section 7.3.1 Safety prevents dangerous robots from competing and R02 points E and F under section 8.3.1 Safety & Damage Prevention prevent "Flammable gases" and "Any devices intended to produce flames or pyrotechnics.". This rule could be bypassed if the sprinkler could also be triggered by smoke, which is the case in at least some venues, in which case a few capacitors in a circuit designed to destroy them could trigger the sprinkler system.
In addition, this comic may be a reference to the water game meme in FRC, where most students really want a game to involve water, even though this is unlikely to ever happen due to the safety concerns about using electronics near water.
The title text is an excuse presented by the umbrella robot team, presumably because they won but are facing disqualification. This excuse seems weak because none of the venues have a rooftop pool. The comment "the pool on the roof must've sprung a leak" is a quote from the 1995 movie "Hackers".
- Team Member 1 (out of panel): Wow, this is a much better design.
- Team Member 2 (out of panel): Let's build it.
- [A blueprint depicting a robot design for the FIRST competition. It consists of a standard mobile platform, with a pusher blade at the front. Additional parts include an umbrella on top and a trailer unit consisting a telescoping pole with a matchbox and match on top.]
- Referee (out of panel): Go!
- [A FIRST competition field, with teams at opposite ends. Various robots appear on the field, and the team whose design appears above activates their robot.]
- [The robot's trailer unit detaches as the telescoping pole begins to extend, and the mobile platform with umbrella rolls forward.]
- [Telescoping pole extends further.]
- [Telescoping pole extends further.]
- [Telescoping pole extends further, approaching a sprinkler head fixture.]
- [Telescoping pole stops extending, placing the matchbox and match very near the sprinkler head fixture.]
- [The mobile platform stops moving.]
- [The umbrella deploys, extending beyond the dimensions of the mobile platform.]
- [The match box and match are lit beneath the sprinkler head.]
- [The heat from the match triggers the sprinkler's valve, and water sprays out of the sprinkler into the room below.]
- [Water pours from the sprinkler onto the competition field, causing the electrical components of the opposing team's robotics platform to short and malfunction. The opposing team appears distressed and confused.]
- [The initial robot, still protected by its umbrella, pushes along the balls toward the goal zone without any difficulty.]
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