How do people send their robots to Worlds?

Where do teams usually ship their robot (hotel or convention center)?
What do you put the robot in (so it doesn’t break or bend)?

Moved this to the Worlds Discussion thread so that more people may comment.

Well two methods are common,

  1. they check it on the cargo part of the plane as part of their ticket and luggage. This could potentially be risky because it’s a sure bet that the TSA will inspect the package due to the fact that these things light up like a Christmas tree under the scanners. To help with this I usually label the box appropriately and give the TSA a little note (on the box) explaining what’s inside.

  2. Many teams ship the robot to the hotel that they will be attending. My understanding is that they call ahead and have the hotel hold the package for them.

Either way common practices for shipping robots involves removing wheels to avoid bent shafts, zip-tie joints and pack it well in a strong cardboard box.

Good luck,

In 2008 we shipped our robot to the Atlanta Marriott. In '09 and '10 we checked in 20"-cubed cardboard boxes with 1" foam pads around the edges. This year 254 is using [much heavier] wooden crates, which are also able to be checked in without overage charges. None of these methods have turned out badly for 254, provided there is enough packing material inside, the batteries are unplugged, and TSA knows it’s an educational robot.

On the other hand, I remember 575 had some…issues…with their cardboard packaging. I’m sure Rick can tell the story best.

And Team 1…weren’t you at Dallas last year? You beat 254E and Z in Science quarterfinals - I still remember. :slight_smile:

Let’s see…

In 2008 we took one robot to Atlanta. FTC team 418 took their tower off the chassis and packed it in a suitcase. There were no injuries to the robot, but it took a couple of hours to put it back together.

In 2009 we took six robots to Dallas. All were packed in 20" cube boxes with the wheels removed and yards of bubble wrap. No problems.

In 2010 we took eight robots to Dallas. They were packed just like in 2009, and all of them were fine except for 575 which had its four aluminum vertical posts bent into nice elliptical curves (they looked elliptical, anyway). Fortunately, the team had decided to build their robot to be easily repaired with a “modular” architecture. They were able to get the robot repaired and they made their first match on time.

This year, we are taking seven robots to the World Championship (our eighth team couldn’t make the trip), and will either use cardboard again, or, if we find time, we will build wooden crates. There’s some good information on the Web on building travel cases; just Google “flight cases.” If we use cardboard boxes again, we will cut up some thin plywood (either 5mm or 1/4") and slide it along the sides to support the top.

Our robots always go as luggage. We think it improves the chances that the robots get there when we do. Inside the lid and outside in a clear holder is a sheet that says, “This box contains robots and parts for a high school robotics program. There are no lithium ion, liquid, or gel batteries. Please call at if you have any questions.” TSA opens most of our boxes, but they’ve never molested anything, and everything goes right through. Also, we check into the airport early to give TSA plenty of time for inspection.

Good luck!

We use aluminium boxes packed like described above, i would suggest taping around every single edge of the box, and ONLY if you have a sSTRONG robot and have it packed WELL putting a “this way up stick” backwards… with having it taped around EVERY EDGE and the sticker backwards, people generally give up trying to open it in airports…

just my 2 cents

Hey Rick- You’re going to Dallas again this year?

I think the rest of us are going to Orlando. We will miss seeing you there!

Now on topic- VEX has set up drayage with a third party for the past 3 years and we have used that service to ship robots to/from Championship. They are in your pit space when you arrive and they ship them back hoem when you are done (you must do all packing). It has worked very well in past years. See the Robot Events listing for World Championship for the paperwork.

This is actually a really risky idea. Last year, one of the nz teams had their aluminium case damaged in one of the sides, as it appeared that TSA had tried to gain access to it by putting a crowbar in the side and levering it open. It would be much safer to make it obvious how to open it if needed. That said, as long as their is enough information on the box, eg pictures, it shouldn’t need opening, but be prepared for the worst.

NEVER try to keep TSA out of a suitcase or box. Seriously.

our club has made boxes that are roughly 20x20x20 out of 1/2 inch plywood and has a lock and handles on it. they seem like they would work good and would be better than a cardboard box but it just ways alot more

why not? they gave up on ours last year… so we shouldn’t do that again?

i would suggest not. Its your choice, but whats the point. TSA will get into the box if they want to, so by making it more difficult for them, you really increase the risk of damage to your box, and your robot. What you did last year wouldn’t have deterred them from trying to get in, they obviously just didn’t pick it out. But as i said, one of the NZ teams did have TSA damage their box, and they had packed it just like the other teams.

They had their lid screwed down, but it must not have been obvious. If anything, its probably a good idea to put a label saying “open here”, as it helps reduce the risk of anything happening.

I don’t really know how much NZ teams follow the news here in the states, but I will warn you that TSA has definitely become more controversial in the last year. Don’t be surprised if they are more aggressive with your packages this year.

Edit: For those of you in the states, see if you can find the double meaning in the phrase above. :stuck_out_tongue:

I stand corrected, after this discussion we will be shipping an easily opened box :slight_smile:

TSA can be a real pain. Travelling to the FIRST Championships in Atlanta, back in the days when FIRST used VEX, I know a local team not only had their crate opened during a transfer in Dallas, but that TSA actually bent the frame of the robot… and delayed shipment of the crates.

We knew enough other teams there that we could have borrowed enough parts to build a robot, but fortunately thanks to some vigourous advocacy by another adult travelling with the team the airline found it in their best interest to deliver the robots to the hotel at 2 a.m.

Since then I recommend teams just attach a few extra batteries, write some really good autonomous code, and the the robot drive itself to the event.

P.S. Credit where it is due… TSA’s mission is to keep the skies safe. They have succeeded. But so have other nation’s security systems and they haven’t been so noticably… intrusive.

with whatever box you decide to use, you can put lunch box clips on the four sides and lock them with TSA approved locks. that is what we use and they keep the lid on nice and tight.

dude im not sure if u noticed that this thread was for last year
while it still matters it is significantly less important in february

haha i didnt notice :eek: ohh well people can use it for this year if they have never been before.

This is one of those threads that is always relevant.

i guess thats why it was under recent threads… now i dont feel so dumb :o