We are happy to announce an exciting new product for use in the VEX Robotics Competition, Anti-Static Foam Field Tiles!
Electrostatic Discharge, referred to as ESD, is the buildup of an electrical charge on non-conductive surfaces and the eventual discharge, like lightning, to a grounded item. The effects of static electric shocks on VEX electronics can vary from processor resets to possible silicon component failure. ESD is significantly worse in the winter when low humidity reduces surface moisture and therefore the conductivity that dissipates electrostatic charges. VEX robots are susceptible to electrostatic buildup caused by rolling friction of the wheels on non-conductive surfaces.
All this becomes a thing of the past with Anti-Static field tiles, as these were specifically designed to prevent ESD Buildup. In our testing, Anti-Static Tiles consistently showed little to no static buildup at all! These new tiles are also reversible, essentially doubling their lifetime, and allowing for much quicker field assembly.
All this said, it should be noted that these Anti-Static tiles will NOT interlock with the existing Foam Tiles, but otherwise are practically identical. They are functionally equivalent, and any minor differences that do exist (color, thickness, Coefficient of Friction, etc.) are extremely negligible, and should not impact robot-field interaction.
It should also be noted that Anti-Static Tiles do not come in Red or Blue, so fields that use the new tiles will be completely gray. Both the existing tiles, and Anti-Static Tiles (upon their release) will be legal for use at all VRC Events for at least the next several years (as noted in the most recent update to the Tower Takeover Field Appendix). VEX Worlds 2020 will use Anti-Static Tiles for all competition and practice fields.
From this point forward, the existing Field Tile Pack (278-1502) will only be available while supplies last. Based on our forecasting, we anticipate that we will be completely out of stock by the end of 2019. We expect to start shipping the new Anti-Static Tiles no later than February 1, 2020. Note that with this schedule, there could be a small gap where no foam field tiles will be available.
If you are an Event Partner in need of foam tiles for a VRC event being held in December 2019 - early January 2020, we would strongly advise ordering them ASAP. If you need them for an event in mid-January or later, we would recommend waiting until the new tiles are available to ensure that you are set with new tiles for the long term. Your REC Foundation Regional Support Manager may also be able to help you network with nearby teams or Event Partners to borrow a set of tiles.
We are extremely excited to share this update with you, and hope that our community will join us in ushering the next era of VRC field materials! As always, if you have any questions about this transition, please contact our Customer Service team at [email protected] or by phone at 903-453-0802.