I present "The potential ultimate solution" for robotics competitions

First of all, before I begin I want to state that I have no affiliation with VEX. But I want to provide my own opinion on the matter in regards to making VEX a safe and clean place, allowing competitions to continue to roll through with ease. It is very hard (impossible) to create a solution that benefits everyone, but it is possible to make a solution that benefits most. So here is my suggestion in regards to making VEX a safe and clean place for all competitors:

  1. When registering before a competition, you must place your robot and tools at your table 4 days in advance to the actual competition. Coronavirus on steel can last a multitude of days, so if we were to make this rule such that teams must place their robots 4 days in advance, then time will be the sterilization to kill off Coronavirus before the event (And this will ultimately save money from unnecessary usages of wipes that wipes are effective based upon how many you use and the surface area wiped, which is rendered far less effective than laying items out unscathed for 4 days).
  2. Any cutting metal cutting tools are prohibited within competition except tin snips. When cutting, it releases dust which if you inhale you may find yourself with Coronavirus the next day. If we limited it to only tin snips, then we can effectively prevent most parts from flying everywhere or going everywhere. (I know tin snips may cause parts to fly everywhere, thats why you can make a rule that all anticipated cut parts must be held by your hand before you cut it).
  3. Two drivers instead of three may be on a driving station. When I was driving within the past couple of years, I realized that theres a lot of elbow-touching due to the amount of people within a small area. If we limit the drivers to only two per team, it will likely give people more room to drive.
  4. Clothing choices. Teams must wear long pants and a long sleeved shirt or hoodie (Recommended white shirts or hoodies to be bleached, as bleach is effective at washing away Coronavirus). By doing this, it makes it harder for you to be touched.
  5. All members must wear a mask and protective glasses at all times. This includes not just drivers, but mentors, builders, and other students who show up to the competition. Coronavirus can spread into your eyes, which is not good. And if you wear glasses then it will protect you from metal as well as Coronavirus. Masks help you from spreading Coronavirus if you have any and is unaware from it.
  6. All people who wish to touch their robots must wear surgical gloves, and may only utilize the tools and items they brought four days in advance. By doing this, it prevents you from spreading Coronavirus to other teams while the robot is in competition. This will ultimately make it safer and healthier for all competitors.
  7. A “Coronavirus-found shut-down rule.” For the health of all people, if a competition has been found to have a member with Coronavirus 2 weeks after the event, all competitions within the region will be postponed for a month, and the team with Coronavirus will be suspended for 2 months, for the sake of ensuring safety of all individuals.

Thoughts? Opinions? I am interested in what responses there will be!

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This is extreme, but for the sake of safety, extreme might be what we need.

Also, one of the biggest things we need to do away with is the post-match handshake. While sportsmanship is important, thats a massive spreading vector, and is probably responsible for worlds being a petri dish every year.

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These are good ideas. My biggest thought (oriented around EP’s) is

Most of the competitions my team attends in SoCal take place in school gyms, which is similar to many other competitions. How is a school supposed to block off their entire gym for 4 (or more) days? If we go back to robotics tournaments, there will likely be some sports going back that may want the gym. 10 teams worth of robotics stuff takes up a lot of space so it would be difficult to store it elsewhere.

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To expect ideas to be 100% perfect and flawless is like expecting the sun to turn green tommorow. It’s impossible to have a perfect idea, but it is to have an idea that benefits most. But if I were to respond to your statement, it will have to be “Are these sports utilizing regulations to help prevent COVID-19? If not, then why are they playing?” Also, the robots don’t have to be in the Gym, they could start out in the gym, then the EP and other staff can move the robots temporarily into another room (provided they wear gloves). There’s more than one solution to combat this, and by assuming there’s no solution to such a problem I would doubt that’s the case. But in a case where there is no solution, as I said, no solution is perfect.

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No one disagrees that the solution can’t be perfect. I’m sure @trontech569 was just analyzing your plan as everyone else was to see if there were any weaknesses that could be improved (what you added about not necessarily storing in the gym demonstrated that. Good idea).

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I’ll agree that leaving your robot out on a table for 4 days, especially at the comp is super impractical.

At a comp, they probably have nowhere to put it, you’re not able to make changes or (especially) practice for four days before the comp, etc.

We frequently go to comps back to back to back weeks, up to like 4 or 5 in a row, so this would mean that we would be able to practice or work on things for less than half as much time as usual. I think disinfectant is a way better solution that this. Either way, how often are other teams even touching your robot that they have to be super clean?

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I want my ideas to be challenged, as it helps me as an individual. So I do respect critiques to my ideas, but it is a good idea to acknowledge that I’m just one individual, and I am my own limit as compared to the many that are trying to find a “weakness.” If I cannot hold up my own ground within a discussion while I am outnumbered in thought-power, that may not mean my idea is necessarily bad (but also I’m not saying it is necessarily good either), But my wrongs shouldn’t be seen as “evidence” of my idea being bad or good, but the collaboration of us users to improve upon an idea should be seen as evidence.

There’s a cliche that people generally ignore, but is helpful. “If you’re going to critique someone’s idea, or if you disagree with it, then respond with your opinion on a solution to combat such a problem.”

What do you wish to consider first? Safety, or convenience?

You only need to touch Coronavirus one time in order to get it. The strictest regulation is purely cancelling the entire year, but if it won’t be cancelled there has to be something to ensure competitions to run without a thought about passing Coronavirus to other members. If you are having competitions every single week, especially during the time like this, I don’t believe that it’ll be my job to figure out a solution that would adapt to your liking. But, I have to be honest here…
“I would rather have it and not need it than need it and not have it”

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Omg this is a lot of safety measures my mind will blow up reading all of this but thanks for sharing this with us :grin: :grin:

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I just don’t understand how this is a better solution than disinfectant

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I haven’t seen any evidence that the coronavirus comes in through your hand. The problem is that as human beings we have this impulse to touch our nose and mouth with our hands. that’s why they recommend hand washing. If you get coronavirus on your hands but then you wash them before you do anything else with them that will kill the virus.

It’ll be safe to treat the bought as it is as if it is a coronavirus in general. Gloves aren’t as helpful as washing and sanitizing. if you get coronavirus on your glove you could still then touch that glove to your mouth or nose and contract the virus. Forget the safety goggles, full face Shields that cover your eyes nose and mouth will ensure that you don’t touch anything and bring that in contact and such a way that you could get the coronavirus.

One thing that you left out is divisions. You could have won tournament with 40 teams, but with four divisions of 10 teams each. On a school campus, you would need 4 rooms big enough to hold the 10 teams and one field.

You would do skills first, leave it open from 9 to 11. your matches with cycle very quickly, sometimes you will be back to back sometimes you and I have a break of three or four. With the new win point on the home row you could probably get away with five qualifying matches.

Only the four division winners would meet for the finals. Awards done virtually. Try to webcast everything so everyone can see everything. Only three people per team allowed, but if teams can come with one or two people even better. No spectators.

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What is the point of leaving it on the table for 4 days when ur gonna touch it again on the day of the comp anyway?

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This would be extremely difficult to implement. Instead of securing an venue for 1-2 days typically, EPs would suddenly have to find an venue which could be rented for five whole days. This just isn’t remotely feasible.

No way this saves EPs money. They would have to secure a venue for an extra 3-4 days, which would double or triple their venue rental costs. Additionally, there would have to be some form of security to protect the tens of thousands of dollars of hardware just sitting in the room for 4 days.

Do you have any evidence to suggest this claim? To me it seems quite unlikely that this would be possible. Additionally, even if it is a risk, it could be solved by simply using power tools outside, where the wind will quickly remove any particles.

Connor, you didn’t mention having consulted with medical professionals and EPs in your post. In light of this, I don’t think presenting your opinion as “the ultimate solution for robotics competitions” is the right way to go about this right now. There are a lot of unsubstantiated claims flying around right now, and the last thing we need is for unqualified people to be declaring they have found the ultimate solution to battling the coronavirus. You have some good ideas in this post, and you’re welcome to discuss ways to help fight, but unless you have the credentials, please don’t present your opinion as anything more than opinion.

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there are good thoughts here, but I think if the situation remains how it is, there is nothing we can do to ensure a perfectly safe competition that still makes it worth having. if the situation requires that we have to be doing all the things you listed, you have to wonder if having a competition at all is the proper choice to make. additionally, these precautions will put enormous burden on eps and teams alike, for an unpleasant and quite frankly unenjoyable robotics competition experience. If things don’t get a whole lot better by fall, I personally wouldn’t attend any events, no matter what kind of precautions are taken. I think virtual skills events are the safer and more enjoyable option at this point in time.

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This seems pretty good, but I feel like it is still pretty extreme. Formula 1 started this week which is basically a traveling racing circus. They take about 4000 people to each race to maintain the cars for the 10 teams. The precautions they are taking are that each team has to stay secluded from each other other than when the cars are racing. All of the team members are also wearing masks at all times. They all get tested every couple days and none have come back positive. I feel that masks for everyone and reduced touching of things along with staying far away from people as much as possible should be enough. That being said, it is a risk at the end of the day that could be avoided.

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I think that we can make things reasonably safe by eliminating handshakes, making teams on an alliance stand further apart, hand sanitizer and, if available, hand washing stations everywhere, masks, and possibly plastic face shields.

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This seems like a very viable solution. The main issue I think EPs and such may have with this is that it greatly increases the size the pit area needs to be. It may even out if there is a restriction on the amount of spectators though.

Something that professional sports could do is not possible for vex. If you compete in the school then you have to go by the district rules or it’s not happening.

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This is the one I have the most issues with. My team (and I’m sure others as well) has a driving system where we need three drivers. Perhaps the driver station could be made larger instead? It’s really too small anyway.

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right now 10’ length - you do need spot for referee to check on all four corners.

I am not sure how you would make driver station bigger other than make the game played on a 24’x24’ field…

We recommended to RECF the idea of barrier between teams in Alliance Station. The expectation is that drive team members are likely to have been exposed to each other no matter what. Plexiglas barriers could add an additional 1-2k$ per competition.

All suggestions are worth hearing. Right now trying to get my mind around 25 person cap in any indoor space in my state.

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For this year’s game layout at least, the best solution for team placement at the field is to have one team on each side positioned as near as possible to the corner that is farthest from the next team. So that 2 teams aren’t sharing the same corner or side. Referees can float around the entire field perimeter as necessary to watch the match and stay as far away from team members as possible. Team members won’t be able to be 6 feet apart in this scenario, but, presumably, they are already in close contact with each other when they build and practice. Not to mention, it would be hard for the driver to hear the coach if they are 12 feet away from you with a second driver in between you. But, each team could at least be 6 feet from the next team.

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