I think the concern is that free pneumatics (yes yes, it’s not infinite free power, but it is still a very useful and powerful system that can now be used with no penalty other than ones inherent in the system) will replace these ingenious and very limited passive actuations.
while passive mechanisms are still going to be viable and are a great way to get extra power and actuations out of a limited robot, pneumatics are undeniably a more powerful and versitile way of achieving actuations than some sort of purely passive mechanism.
Is that neccesarily a bad thing? I don’t know. But I do know that it is more expensive, which is my main issue with the free pneumatics change. It’s pretty clear what the gdc’s stance on the matter is, but for what it’s worth I’d much rather be given a choice between pneumatics and one extra motor than to choose between the superior but expensive pneumatics, or the alternative of no additional power. Which isn’t that big an issue for me personally, but I think that pneumatics simply won’t be in the budget for so many teams, and because of that they are inherently going to be more limited in terms of robot power than other teams.
Also I just thinkl balanced choices are a great way to foster thoughtful design decisions, every team could be able to come up with their choice based on their engineering process and their org’s limitations, instead of just going with the obvious “yes, more power” or perhaps “we don’t have pneumatics, and we aren’t going to buy them, I guess we’re not using them”.
And yes, pneumatics are not an all-powerful tool that will make or break a team’s season. They aren’t good at providing large-power or frequent actuations because of the limited air, but all the low-frequency actuations you can do with them will certainly make a difference in a team’s competitive ability, especially with a game like tipping point with so many possibilities for actuating robot mechanisms.
the idea of sacreficing 2 motors for pneumatics in the past few years has been laughable, not only because you’d lose a ton of available power, but because the past few games has not really had many uses for pneumatics that would be work giving up any motors for. Change up was so simple that a 4 motor robot could play it, there was no need for anything pneumatically powered at all. And tower takeover might have benefited from pneumatic actuations, perhaps with cube locks or other clever mechanisms, but it was also a very power-demanding game, and teams couldn’t afford to lose 2 motors of power.
The reason you can’t compare the tradeoff of previous years to this year is because yes, power is king. But we’ve just been given both full power from motors, and the versatility and actuations from pneumatics with no tradeoffs, and I think the effects of removing any sort of tradeoff will be largely negative, especially among teams that would rather not use pneumatics (either because of price or preference)