<R6> Robots are built from the VEX V5 system. Robots may be built ONLY using official VEX V5 components, unless otherwise specifically noted within these rules. Teams are responsible for providing documentation proving a part’s legality in the event of a question. Examples of documentation include receipts, part numbers, official VEX websites, or other printed documentation.
<R8> Certain non-VEX components are allowed. Robots are allowed the following additional “non-VEX” components: [omitted for brevity]
For many years, there has been a clause in R8 allowing parts which are "identical" to official VEX produts. There is no such clause in version 0.2 of the Tipping Point game manual.
<R7> VEX products come from VEX Robotics or VEX Robotics Resellers. Official VEX products are ONLY available from VEX Robotics & official VEX Resellers. To determine whether a product is “official” or not, consult www.vexrobotics.com. A complete list of authorized VEX Resellers can be found at www.vexrobotics.com/how-to-order.
Some products in the V5 product line are not manufactured by VEX, but rather purchased in bulk from third-party manufactures and resold by VEX and VEX-authorized resellers. Often these same parts can be purchased directly from the manufacturer or through other retail sites. Two common examples are "VEX-brand rubber bands" (manufactured by Alliance) and VEX pneumatics kits, which contain components made by SMC.
Purchasing these products from non-VEX sources can provide significant cost savings. For example, VEX sells #64 non-latex rubber bands in a pack of 10 for $3.99, or 39.9 cents per band. However, the same rubber bands are available on Amazon in a 1 lb box (approx. 380 bands) for $15.84, or roughly 4.2 cents per band, a savings of nearly 90%. Purchasing the same quantity of rubber bands from VEX would cost over $150.
Likewise, purchasing individual pneumatic components directly from SMC or from third-party retailers can provide significant cost savings compared to buying kits from VEX, depending on what and how many parts a team needs.
In both these cases, purchasing parts from non-VEX retailers doesn't just get you parts that are "identical" for some definition of that term. These are literally the same parts, simply routed through a different set of warehouses on the journey from the factory to a team's robot. There is no competitive advantage to be gained here, only a cost savings.
In previous seasons, buying these parts from non-VEX retailers would've definitely been allowed under the "identical parts" clause; however that clause is no longer present.
With this context in mind, I have the following questions:
- Was the omission of the "identical parts" clause in R8 intentional?
- If the answer to #1 is yes, are teams allowed to purchase the same components (where applicable) fron non-VEX retailers such as SMC or Amazon?
- If the answer to #2 is no, how will inspectors be expected to verify (and teams expected to prove) that, for example, a particular rubber band or pneumatic cylinder was purchased from VEX or a VEX reseller rather than from a third party?