Answered: More flying requests...

So I know all designers have been prohibited from doing flying… At least that is the impression one would get from this post:

I have several questions, the first of which are based on the assumption that the last answers dealt with a rotor spinning at 400-1000 rpm.

  • What if the rotors were somehow surrounded, thus eliminating much of the entanglement hazard?
  • What if the rotors were on top of a UFO-shaped device? (To get some fancy lift properties… I’ll let you figure the rest… :P)
  • what if you had a rotor(s) spinning at anywhere from 50-300 rpm? Would that be acceptable?
  • At what point does something spinning become hazardous? If a wheel is spinning freely, at the same rate (50-300 rpm), is that considered a hazard?
  • What if it can be demonstrated that the robot is stable, controllable, and not dangerous? Is there some sort of rating system by which you could allow certain people to fly it, if they had enough skill/hours piloting it?
  • What if the helicopter is tethered to a ground vehicle? Thus limiting it’s reach, and insuring it won’t fly off by itself?

If you can’t tell, I really would like to fly… I would really appreciate if the nice folks at VEX and IFI would allow me, and thousands of other inventor/designers to think outside the box, and once again in the history of man, take to the skies.

It just seems like such a waste of a whole aspect of the competition, and I think that with both the high-school and the college challenges, one of these teams would figure out how to fly… Which leads me to the next question:

  • Would you allow a college team to build one of their robots into a helicopter? If they proved that it was safe, sustainable, and wouldn’t come apart in flight?
  • And all the questions asked above: would VEX/IFI allow a college team to embark on such a noble endeavor?

I would really appreciate any help on this matter, and if y’all could find it in the bottoms of your hearts to allow some designers to think the unthinkable, create the uncreateable, and do what everyone has said is impossible, I would really appreciate it…


I would love delve into the specifics of each of the questions you posed, but it’s always especially difficult to evaluate the safety of hypothetical devices. As with any design in the VRC or VRCC, it must be fully compliant with all game and robot rules. Here are the two rules that we’re most concerned with when it comes to potential flying robots.

High speed rotors are inherently dangerous devices. There is no way an unshielded high speed rotor would ever be allowed to come close to a VRC field. It would be a hazard to both robots on the field and any team members and event staff who are nearby the field. (Especially since the robot has the potential to accidentally exit the field much more so than a conventional robot) So, completely enclosing and shielding your rotor is the first step to avoiding violations of <S1> and <R3>.

To summarize, flying robots are not automatically illegal. However, any flying robot which uses a rotor will automatically come under intense scrutiny in regards to rules <S1> and <R3>. Any team undertaking such an ambitious design should be prepared to invest significant time to ensure that their robot is not capable of damaging other robots or injuring anyone during normal operation.

As always the final determination on legality of a robot will be up to the inspectors and referees at your event.

That was actually exactly what I was looking to hear…

I can’t promise anything yet, but I would like to at least build a competition-legal helicopter, in some form or another, and have it compete in just one competition. No promises yet, but keep your fingers crossed…

If I ever do manage to pull this off, you can be sure there will be videos posted…

Thanks again for your time, and thanks for clarifying for me!