Is the Machine Learning Toolchain is closed for the 2024 offseason

Hi I’m a mentor for team 373 in the UK.
The UK national event is due on 21 June (our season has not finished yet).
My team have been developing their team props but were unable to access the ML toolchain.
Is the ML toolchain now closed?
Is it possible that it will reopen for UK teams?
If not please can you advise alternatives?

Hello, @richardforster.

We regret to inform you that the Machine Learning Toolchain is down for the season - this closure was announced multiple times in the weekly Team E-mail Blast. Each season FIRST Tech Challenge operates the Machine Learning Toolchain instance from Kickoff to the end of the Championship event, about 8 months. Each month it costs us quite a bit to operate the site (Google Cloud Server Use, Storage, and Data Transfer fees, and of course performing the model training, all which are billed separately), depending on team use. We unfortunately had to make decisions about how to fairly allocate funding for site upkeep and model training use, and only keeping the site operational September through April was the tough decision we had to make in order to give all teams the most utility throughout the competition season.

Normally I would suggest creating your own instance of the tool (using our instructions), but the Google Cloud (which is a required management component) is deprecating the Machine Learning APIs that we utilize and will no longer allow new instances to be created that depend on those APIs. Until we finish the work to move to the new ML APIs (which is much more difficult than we originally anticipated), there is no alternative for teams to use our tools.

On top of that, TensorFlow tools recently changed and the released FIRST Tech Challenge TensorFlow libraries no longer support models created by newer TensorFlow tools (which are what external model building utilities use). We’ve found that merely updating our tools is not sufficient. Until we resolve these issues there is no documented process that I can recommend that will generate TensorFlow models that are guaranteed to work with any released FTC Software Development Kit. This has unfortunately been the case most of this past season, and it was only recently that we were able to discover why. Many of the core technologies we use were deprecated during this past season (that’s the price we pay for being on the cutting edge), and our TensorFlow tools were built around those core technologies.

I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but this is the state that we are in. While the Machine Learning Toolchain is down, we’ve been working to migrate our systems to the new recommended tools. We’ve also been evaluating how we can best serve teams in the 2024-2025 Season, and what that may look like for our Machine Learning and AI tools. We apologize for the inconvenience this causes you, but we hope we will emerge with better solutions come kickoff.


Thank-you for the comprehensive and rapid response, I will share with the team.
There is learning for us regarding monitoring Team E-mail Blast.

Our original teamp props are undersized, but I think this might be our best plan B with regard to using a team prop for the autonomous phase of the challenge.