Legal vs Illegal Battery

Does anyone know why these batteries are illegal? They seem to fit all of the same parameters and specifications of the Modern Electronics battery. The only difference seems to be the way the way the battery is stacked (with an offset, therefore slimmer width). Is there any way to petition that these batteries become legal for competitive use?

There are a lot of reasons why components are legal vs illegal in FIRST Tech Challenge, though not all of the reasons are (or should be) for public debate. There are a lot of factors to consider, a lot more than I thought were necessary to begin with. Each and every year we consider and reconsider lots of different device categories, including batteries, motors, cameras, and lasers (the last two undergoing a lot of change this season).

You are always able to provide feedback to FIRST via the email address. When providing the feedback, it’s important to not just say “I want xyz legal in competition” but it’s important to say why it’s important, what does the product offer that other allowed products does not, and why is it important for FIRST Tech Challenge teams globally? Does this product have a benefit to all teams, or does it fit a specific niche (maybe it serves a specific use-case or product ecosystem?).


Thank you. I just tried to email the address listed and received a response that my email has been blocked by the address’s server…

Is there another address/person to send the request to?

Thanks so much for your help. I think allowing the battery could be of great benefit to the entire community, especially with the lack of availability of the REV battery. Advantages over comparable available alternative:
At about 2.6 mm slimmer, it fits within goBilda Channel which could be used to secure the battery better, and Does not require an adapter for the power connection (which also improves the security of the power connection) to the Control Hub.


I apologize profusely. There are 2 email addresses:

FIRST prefers that we give out the second email because it does not use the acronym, and I occasionally merge the two together.


No worries! Thanks so much! I’ll send the message to the 2nd and wait to see if I get a response before trying the first.

Any response from FTC on this? Any reasoning given? Silence leads to speculation; there are some rumors starting around this issue that the FTC GDC should probably communicate more clearly on.

FIRST Tech Challenge evaluates policies, rules, vendors, and products each season using a variety of factors. It is not reasonable to expect specific comment on the rationale for including, not including, allowing, or disallowing specific products or methodologies. We take all comments and suggestions seriously.


So if I understand your correctly, you are saying that silence (not transparency) is FTC’s official policy. Which doesn’t make sense because they have lots of publications, events, etc, to explain their rationales for all sorts of things. It would be great for them to explain this issue, which has been costing teams $$$ since at least 2018.

The goBILDA product page has a box that explicitly states that these batteries are not legal for use with FTC.

The rules are fairly explicit and clear about legal and illegal batteries, and they have been this way for years. If teams purchase these batteries and expect to use them at competition in spite of the clearly stated rules, I’m not sure I have a lot of sympathy for that.

If someone disagrees that the rules should be the way they are, you can write to FTC about it as @ddiaz suggests. But I don’t think FTC is obligated to explain the reasoning behind every rule they make or to justify themselves to teams that disagree with the rules. And I don’t find it hard to speculate on many of the possible factors that might cause a specific decision for something like this (note, this is 100% speculation on factors, I have no direct knowledge or insight into the criteria that FTC might be using):

  • safety concerns for teams, competitors, event hosts, and general
  • product availability for teams
  • maintaining a good competitive environment for teams of varying backgrounds
  • export/import issues
  • existing and future legal agreements with vendors and suppliers
  • ensuring compatibility and performance among multiple subsystems
  • strategic planning for future iterations of competition, control systems, hardware

To me, any of these could be factors influencing the decision, and for many of them I can see why FIRST would be unwise to publicly disclose the reasons. Thus I agree with @ddiaz that we should not always expect full disclosure, even in the face of “rumors” around a given issue.

FTC encompasses a wide variety of viewpoints about what the competition “should” or “should not” be – on any given aspect of the competition, you can find divergent views on “how things ought to be”. There are things some I’d like to see different, and there are people who would (and do) strongly disagree with me. That’s the nature of things. And I always keep in mind that the FTC people making the decisions often have considerations beyond what I see as a coach, event host, or partner, so I can’t presume that the decisions they are making are bad decisions, given what they know that I don’t, or vice-versa.

Coach, FTC 7172 “Technical Difficulties”
PDP Emeritus, North Texas Region

Thanks, but that’s not the info I’m looking for. Do you know anything about why FTC has not authorized the Gobilda batteries?

I had a longer post but decided it’s not productive.

Short answer #1: No, I don’t know the reasons why FTC has not authorized goBILDA batteries. But I believe they have their reasons for it, and it’s not them just ignoring the issue.

Short answer #2: Yes, silence (or more precisely, lack of public disclosure) is FTC’s policy in some areas. As @ddiaz said in his earlier post, “not all of the reasons are (or should be) for public debate.” I generally agree with this position; in many organizations and situations people need to make decisions without having to publicly explain or disclose all of the details behind those those decisions.

Hi Mr. Sittig and Mr. Michaud,

Mr. Sittig, I received the following message from FIRST after my emailed inquiry (as suggested by Mr. Diaz):

"Hello Cory,

Thank you for writing. We sincerely apologize for the delayed response. Teams can find information and directions on a New Product Request for FIRST ® Tech Challenge teams here.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.


FIRST® Tech Challenge Team Support "

I submitted a an official request using the site address to allow the other battery. We do not use them for competition, but have a few on hand for practice, build, and mock-up sessions. My primary reasons listed a few different things including connections to the control hub without adapters, slimmer fit for mounting, and a lack of availability of the REV Slim battery (they were back ordered and we had no idea when more work free up - fortunately their supply did pick up, but REV continues to have issues which concerns me as a “coach.”

My Take:
While it would be helpful to know “the whys” for a lack of approval ( just to help know when and where to put my energy when I do have a request - I hate to waste my time and breath on things that have no chance), I trust that those making decisions have good reason for their decisions. I have heard that there is a new control system on its way which kills me. I hate the idea of dropping another $2,000 on a system and back up for each of my teams when the current hubs and stations have been terrific, especially compared to the old Samantha units, controllers, and mindstorm bricks we used at the very beginning. The rumors of FIRST making changes at this point does make it easy to begin to question some of the reasoning, though. That may have a baring on whether or not another battery would be approved as Mr. Michaud listed among FIRST’s considerations “strategic planning for future iterations of competition, control systems, hardware.” In the end, we’re just in a wait and see mode and we’ll make decisions about future involvement or changing over to another competition as we learn more. I have been very, very loyal to FIRST, and intend to remain that way, however, I also want to make sure that FIRST stays true to their original guiding principles, and our plans to continue will depend upon that.

Anyway, I would encourage you to use the same link as I if you’d like to make an official request.

Have a great season!
Cory Callaway
Midland High School
FTC 4897, 4906. 9735, 16914

That is correct. The Control Hub is nearing its end of life; the core of the Control and Expansion Hub was designed in 2016, and was introduced into service in FIRST Tech Challenge during the 2017-2018 competition season (FWIW the Expansion Hub and Control Hub are technically the same product - the Control Hub just has an additional Android board with the extra bells and whistles). We’ve already reached component shortages and end-of-life issues on multiple non-critical components, but the end-of-life on critical components for the Control Hub is just on the horizon (at that point the devices can no longer be manufactured). Once the 2027-2028 season rolls up, that system will have been in service to FTC for a decade! It’s hard to imagine too many products that live that long - cell phones are deprecated on a 2-3 year basis, laptops are designed to last 3-5 years, televisions tend to last 7-10 years (but individual models are only made for a couple years), and a car typically lasts around 12 years (but every model year is allowed to get upgrades!). Of course a swing in technology doesn’t require all cars to be upgraded and replaced at once regardless of how long you’ve owned it, we get that. From a “supporting a fleet of teams and tournaments” perspective unfortunately nobody has the bandwidth to support multiple systems with different capabilities at the same time.

Our original plan was to possibly release a “Control Hub 2.0” in two years, which would be essentially a “next model year” of the Control Hub - with the idea of phasing out the older Control Hub 1.0 over a couple years. However, a “once in a decade” opportunity came up with FIRST Robotics Competition. They will coming off ~12 years with their roboRIO control system in 2027 (6 years with roboRIO 1.0, 6 years with roboRIO 2.0), and it is a great opportunity to synchronize programs - there are a LOT of benefits for both programs to be using the same software SDK, the same control system hardware, and so on. It’s definitely a strategic move for FIRST and our programs. We’re still working out the details of how we’ll be transitioning from the Control Hub and the new “unified FRC/FTC system” - whether it’s a step function or a phased process, we will announce to teams as soon as we know ourselves. We are completely expecting that there will be “competitive advantages” with the new system, so there are a lot of questions that have to be answered before we can say anything definitive.


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Very interested in this perspective of a unified system. One concern though would be the literal size. FRC has a lot more volume to contain the electronics system. The Modern Robotics period was a nightmare as the controls took up a HUGE amount of volume, especially when you considered the cabling required. The Rev hubs were a massive improvement, but even they are challenging on a modern FTC robot. Hopefully form factor and associated cabling is a big consideration for a next generation.

Indeed it is! The current “thought” from us internally is that we’d be okay with a low-impact power “shield” for the FTC control system. If you know anything about the current FRC control system, they have an MXP board “shield” that acts as a pass-through for I/O; we were thinking our power system could go through a similar shield since we’re relatively low-current compared to FRC. Again, the RFP process hasn’t even been fleshed out yet, we’re hoping vendors have great ideas for that. But yes, we know we cannot have the same power system as FRC (nor should we) and the FTC packaging problem is our #1 mechanical concern for the new control system.