This is demonstrably false. The rules state that the robot "must be designed and programmed to follow track lines, make decisions at intersections, travel between gates, and stop at a designated target point on the track without external interactions." While a top device would probably have sensors, etc, a frame can be crafted out simple household materials, and the electrical components of the device consist of any microcontroller (let's use an arduino uno for example, off-brand versions of which can be had for ~$12.00) and two motors. Prices for a basic, calibratable device that won't be tiered and can place reasonably well can be brought down to $20.To get a Non-Participation (NP) rank ("working robot") it has a minimum budget - a reasonable estimate would be $50 dollars. This could be compared to <$5 dollars for balsa events, <$20 dollars for GV/MTV, ~5 dollars for PPP, etc. For any small team, this forces NS or P points. Anyone can make a working Gravity Vehicle by gluing a few sticks together; building a Robot requires much more skill than this.
This is very true. Robotics is dedicated to building high-end, complicated robots. Many divisions also costs tens of thousands of dollars and require high-level sponsors to do well, hence why many schools don't have teams. This event is about trying to give people an introduction to robotics while making robotics accessible, and is exactly why it's a Science Olympiad event, not dulled-down robotics. This event is also more about fast-paced competitive adaptability and strategy than it is about build skills. Robotics is about precision and build skills.If I want to build a robot, there's something called Robotics, I didn't do Science Olympiad to do more Robotics. It's the same thing, dulled down. Robotics clubs have sponsors, coaches, parents, all dedicated to building one device
To your point about pay-to-win and kits: flying events generally require kits to do well, and those kits are expensive. Can the devices be made without the kits? Yes. Can a team win without the kit? No. The point of Robot Tour is that while a team could pour a lot of money into their device, that money won't get them anywhere, because high-end parts are unlikely to get them much farther past maybe a few extra sensors. Some parts can add value, sure, as with any build event unfortunately, but it's mostly design and strategy and thinking on your feet. Events such as Gravity Vehicle are even more pay to win than this. Yes, you can have a device for very little that can get participation. But to have a ramp that will work and a precise car with repeatable stopping points, you need to put money into wheels and typically the frame as well. The ramp is especially difficult.
I would also agree that there hasn't been much interest in robot tour, but when would a team ever put the time into an electronic trial event for an invitational? There's not much of a point.
Yes, we have many sponsors, but as Nick pointed out, those are recent. Our students reach out to get those sponsors, and the reason behind those sponsors is not the team's success, but simply the connection to science and education that the club has. I'm sure that our students and coaches would be happy to share how we got sponsors if anyone asked; it's not supposed to be a secret.Not every team is as fortunate as yours, with twenty sponsors sponsoring your team and an invitational, which pulls in profit as well. Not every team has a sponsor, not every team has coaches, and not every team has the experience that your team might have. Coming from an equally competitive team placing equal or above yours at many competitions, our team has no event coaches and no funding from schools - all build money comes out of my family's pocket, and the last thing I want to see is yet another event requiring a minimum of $50 just to participate in the event. Hopefully National Science Olympiad reconsiders disadvantaged or non-sponsored teams.
Our invitational is another point of profit, which I would agree is another reason our team is fortunate. And I cannot argue that our team is fortunate, but I also have to note that our Division C team has no adult event coaches. We have event captains- students assigned to each event who find resources and create a plan. Any adult resources are found by these event captains, contacted by them, and then brought in for individual sessions for that one event. They aren't adult coaches who coach entire events the entire season. Our practice schedule is put together, not by coaches, but by our junior captains. Our captains put together our schedule for each invitational.
Yes, we have been trying to make builds more accessible for less advantaged students, but generally our students pay for our builds out of pocket. All build money for any of my builds or my brothers' builds, cheat sheets, binders, resources etc. have come out of my family's pocket, and the same goes for most people from Solon.
Robotics events have long been pay-to-play in SO, but the focus in robot tour shifts from the device itself (which quality impacts, but not to the same extent as other builds) to the competition and the strategy, making pouring money into it less advantageous, and making it possible for disadvantaged teams to win.