Logistics and Transporation

Hey guys,
I was thinking about Worlds the otehr day, and was wondering how teams get their robots, parts, and themselves there. I know that you can take a plane there, but due to baggage weight restrictions, and also size of all the parts and personal needs, an airplane ticket might not be sufficient. Do you ship your items there via DHL, Fedex etc? Discuss.

We flew everything. Our robot barely went outside the accepted limit for free checked baggage, but the airline (Southwest) didn’t charge us. We split up the tools into two suitcases which weighed less than 50lbs. We got everything there fine. Flying is nice :wink:

For personal needs, everyone on the team uses his / her 1 carry-on & 1 personal item allowance. As for the robot, our club has wooden crates that weight roughly 10-15 lbs and the robot usually weights 15-20 which at maximum is only 35 lbs and gives us a 15 lb allowance for tools, replacement equipment and extra batteries.

I would fly SouthWest. You get 2 free checked bags (under 50lbs) and a carry on + personal item free. SouthWest made the trip to Worlds SO nice. SouthWest is the way to go guys…

Disclaimer: I do not work for SouthWest.

We’ve always flown Southwest and the trips are very nice.

Our first year we used heavy duty wooden crates and when the TSA couldn’t get in, they smashed them in. (It was on the return flight, but there was significant robot damage)

This year, we actually used plain cardboard boxes with a ton of packing peanuts and bubble wrap. We had a box within another box with two layers of packing material and the robot came out in perfect condition. Kind of Ghetto, but very effective:p:p.

We have also used Southwest to fly to World’s the last couple years. Our team members brought all of their personal items in backpacks (as carry-on luggage), and we used all of the robot stuff as our checked-in bags.

Last year we built a couple wooden crates, except we made two opposite sides of the crate out of thick Lexan sheets so that anyone can easily see through it. One of the Lexan sheets is easily removable, and the TSA usually remove the tape we have securing it to search the crate. On the top of the crate, we taped on a printed note declaring that inside the crate there is an “educational robot”, and we provided details about the Vex competition and a phone number to contact as well.

For all of our other gear, we used a double sided tool organizer, a rolling zip-up tool bag with kits, metal, and cortexes inside, and another small rolling organizer. We have made sure that the last couple years we mainly bring bags that can roll!

We drove from Phoenix, AZ to Anaheim. We try not to attend competitions that we can’t drive to because of the added cost. It limits us to AZ/CA/NM/NV basically, but that’s more than enough for our season. If we’re doing US Nationals this year, I guess we fly to Nebraska. That would be the first time we’ve flown for Robotics since the All Stars Challenge in Gateway.

IIRC, when we did that we just checked everything. That means robots, tools, and batteries. I kept my laptop to write some more code on the plane, and I took some cables/Cortexes/controllers I needed to do a firmware update on, too. They didn’t mind too much about that. We had put all of our stuff into 24x24x24 boxes from UPS that we picked up the day or so before. It’s really cheap, and they’ll just fill them with packing peanuts or whatever you want so that things don’t get broken. And as an added bonus, the plane attendants (or someone) move your checked bags between planes if you have to get a connecting flight, so all we had to move through an airport was a carry-on and a personal item.

That probably doesn’t help you much, but I just figured I would throw it out there.

Driving to competitions is nice. Less hassle but sometimes flying is unavoidable. Southwest is by far the best for flying to competitions. You can bring free checked bags. They let you change your flights and get full refunds on flights.
Back when worlds was in Dallas you could do the entire trip without ever using a car.
Fly to Dallas
Train directly from Airport to hotel
another Train the few blocks it was to the convention center

Ephemeral why don’t we ever see you here in Nevada?

Since Southwest does not fly out of Korea and you would drown trying to drive :smiley: I suggest waiting on the Kiwi’s to chime in on this thread. There were several teams that had wooden boxes just big enough to fit the robot that they were able to get checked without issue.

NZ teams create aluminum robot crates and flys down with checked bags.

Defectors are also frowned upon by Kim Jong-Un. :stuck_out_tongue:

The great leader told me if I don’t come first in worlds, I will have the same fate as their national soccer coach in 2009. :wink:

All joking aside, do you guys split the robotics luggage up between people? So one person has the motion stuff, one has the robot itself, etc? Is the amount of luggage comfortable, or do you have to be stingy on what you take there?

I realized about 4 days ago that Vegas was closer to us than any city in California we’ve driven to for a competition. Last year we did Chula Vista and CalState/Northridge for our out of state competitions. We’re considering doing the Vegas competition in February this year. I’m pushing for it, at least, and I know some other people on our team will be interested once I bring it up. I’m pretty sure we’re doing Chula Vista, California and Las Vegas, Nevada this year. After that, we do US Nationals and/or Worlds if we qualify again

Out of curiosity, would our being at an out-of-state competition and doing well qualify us for their State Championships? Or do we actually need to be FROM that region?

We have cardboard boxes that we put wooden frames inside, and they’re just slightly larger than the bot. It works pretty well, and it’s cheap. My only regret is that we had no casters, so we had to carry all the bots and boxes the quarter mile or so from the hotel and back.

Well now that you mention it…

We fly with our robots in aluminium crates packed tightly with foam. In the past we have taken the wheels out of the robot to protect the shafts from bending, but now we just bolt on some standoffs and small pieces of metal underneath the robot to lift the wheels up. Works well.

In the past we have also taken intake mechanisms off and wrapped them up separately if it looked like they could get damaged, but not for the past two years.

Some other things we do if take the wires out of the micro controller so that TSA don’t get too freaked out (speaking of which, TSA this year had a nice general friendly chat with us in LAX this year :D) and we pulled out one end of the tubing of the pneumatics in case anything funny happened with the pressure (though apparently the baggage area of the plane is also pressurized).

Here’s a pic of one of our robot flight crates: http://db.tt/sQNsOzXl

Edit: Oh and another useful thing I thought of when re-reading Complexity’s comment is that we bought a fold up trolley which we put the robot crate on (you can probably guess though that it isn’t the one in the photo ;)). It’s really useful, especially because it can be painful and irritating carrying a 20" crate everywhere.


*** State/Province Championships are closed to teams outside of that State/Province/Country. Some regions may have
States/Provincesthat band together to hold a Regional Championship. So if the New England states want to combine their spots to
have a 3 or 4 state regional championship (with only teams from those involved states), they will permitted to host 1 event to award all
allocated spots. Please remember that teams are only permitted to register for 1 State/Province Championship

Thank you for that picture. I kept thinking of the Road Runner ACME crates. :stuck_out_tongue:

We have used ground shipping the past two years in Anaheim. Combining local clubs together can help ensure nothing is put on top of your shipped robot like we did in 2012.

However, it is much more expensive and Drayage costs at Anaheim Convention Center are just about as much as the shipping does to go across the country! (but very typical for convention centers it seems) The good news is they all arrived in one piece so they handle them well both times. So I guess we get what we pay for.

Downside to ground shipping is a week and half before worlds we are without robots. (distance from CA will change your timing and customs variability makes this not a viable option for international teams)

2013 - Wooden crate housed 3 robots, toolboxes, and wicked ccol trade show booth stuff. Crate is heavy and adds cost, but lesser chance of crush)


2012 - Cardboard box method on a palette - 8 robots plus toolboxes from two clubs. Height probably led to nothing going on top of us:


2011 - drove to FL from PA

2010 - flew to TX and had some damage to robots axles (could have packed better I guess)

Ah. So we could go, compete and have fun, but we wouldn’t be allowed to attend the State Championships later?

Alright. We’ll keep that in mind. Thanks.

You might be able to ask RECF because they may have exceptions depending on how much closer it is to you. It would seem like it could be fair to let you go to another state championship as long as you do not also attend one in your own state. But I am not certain on this as I do not work for them. You would have to ask them.

However you could qualify off design or excellence in another state.