Orlando Incident

Blog Date: 
Wednesday, April 16, 2014 - 11:26

At the Orlando Regional, the number one ranked alliance was retroactively disqualified for two matches because of a failure to be re-inspected after a modification had been made to one of their robots, the robot of Team 1902, Exploding Bacon. I received a phone call from the field on this incident before the disqualification was announced, and supported the recommendation of the disqualification based on the information I had available at the time. 

I received detailed reports from volunteers at the event within a few days after the incident, reinforcing my understanding that the team had not been re-inspected after the modification. Recognizing this differed from the team’s account as reported on the forums, I decided to not address this issue publicly, over concerns of causing additional friction between the volunteers and the teams.

However, because of additional information I received and after more consideration, I decided to look more closely at this incident. I recently reached out to both the team and the volunteers for additional reports. Unlike the additional information I received in the recent Team 1323 incident, the additional information I received in this situation did not let me resolve the discrepancies in reports. I am not able to construct a coherent narrative based on the information I have, and I won’t be reversing the ruling that was made at the event. I don’t believe anyone supplying information is being disingenuous –human memories are imperfect, and it’s easy to misremember exact sequences of events or precisely who said what, especially days or even weeks after the event itself. FIRST is a Character driven organization, and my working assumption, unless unambiguously demonstrated otherwise, is that everyone who participates is reporting information accurately as they remember it. 

From the recent information I received, however, I was able to get a better sense for the damage caused to the reputations of Team 1902 and their alliance partners, Teams 233, The Pink Team, and 624, CRyptonite. I understand now that a report of this issue even reached at least one of the local papers. Whatever the actual sequence of events was, I am absolutely convinced that neither 1902, nor their alliance partners, intended to skirt the rules in this situation or believed that anything they were doing was wrong. 

I apologize to Teams 1902, 233, and 624 for any tarnish this has put on their reputations. I believe this is not deserved. I also apologize for my lack of immediate action on this issue.

Lastly, FIRST wants to improve from this experience, so we are putting guidelines in place with the Inspectors to ensure re-inspections required because of robot modifications are fully  documented, to help prevent an issue like this from occurring again.

I apologize again to the teams and the community, for this incident.

Frank     

Comments

Thank You! I was alarmed to discover that the ruling was made without ANYONE asking the drive team if they had in fact been re-inspected before making the ruling. If they had been consulted, they could have pointed out that they had been and pointed directly to person in question.

I imagine this is the reason for the Robot Modification Log that our team saw at the South Florida Regional (had previously thought it was just a local thing). After being in the regional, I feel that the Mod Log was a nice addition and thought it should be implemented throughout FRC as it encouraged us to note even the smaller of mods such as moving a component on the robot, and definitely helps ensure teams note the larger mods (adding/removing metal parts or motors).

I think it would be well done for you to issue a press release to the hometown papers of those teams and/or a letter to their team sponsors. If, in fact, reputations have been tarnished, the trickle down could become a deluge. I doubt it will, but team sponsors do what they do in good faith, and it would be horrendous were they to lose that good faith or even their sponsorship due to such an incident.

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