In most of the last few years FRC teams have had to create bumpers to minimize impact energy during collisions.  In FRC, robots weight 140+ pounds and move at speeds up 20 feet per second (fps) so the impact energy during collisions is significant.  Every year that bumpers are required there are rules defined in the robot section of the manual.  Be sure to read those rules carefully as they can make a big difference in bumper design.

Bumper Basics

Bumpers can come in all different shapes and sizes.

The primary goal of the bumper is to absorb energy during a collision.  To do this FIRST has a very specific set of design requirements that use pool noodles as the primary shock absorber.

 

Bumpers need to be easily removable to allow for the team to maintain the robot at a moments notice. To do this teams use a variety of removable fasteners. The most popular removable fastener for this application is the locking pin.

 

Bumpers also need to be able to switch between red and blue and contain your team’s number.  The most popular approach to this is for teams to make two sets of bumpers.  Some teams however like to go with one set of bumpers with the ability to change color.

 

In addition to the goals and requirements bumpers can be designed to assist with different game strategies.

  • Offensive strategies could include;
    • Reducing the likelihood of being t-boned
      • Change the shape of the robot perimeter from square to hexagonal or round
      • Round the corners
      • Use a low friction fabric like Sailcloth
    • Reducing the likelihood of being pinned
      • Change the shape of the robot perimeter from square to hexagonal or round
      • Round the corners
      • Use a low friction fabric like Sailcloth
  • Neutral strategies could include
    • You want to be able to push but not be t-boned
      • Use a low friction fabric like Sailcloth on front and back
      • Use high friction fabric like cordura on sides
  • Defensive strategies could include;
    • Increasing your robot’s ability to t-bone other robots
      • Use 90 deg corners
      • Use high friction fabric like cordura
    • Increasing your robot’s ability to pin other robots
      • Use 90 deg corners
      • Use high friction fabric like cordura
    • Increasing your robot’s ability to flip other robots
      • Use low friction fabric ike Sailcloth
      • Use solid pool noodles on the  noodle closest to the ground and a thin walled hollow noodle on the top
    • Increasing your robot’s weight
      • Use steel brackets
      • Use steel hardware
      • Use steel sheet

 

Additional Resources