Special thanks to Dave Parker for taking some great closeup photos of the new FTC kit (I'm a very poor photographer - just not my thing) that I'm including here. My one photo of the kit was too blurry for use. Be sure to read Dave Parker's post (right below this one) for more details about the kit and the competition design.
Anyway, as you can see, you get about 100+ aluminum parts (I believe the name they are giving to these components is Tetrix, but don't hold me to that). In addition, you get the NXT Education Base Set, 3 software packages (NXT-G, RobotC, and NI LabView), 2 Li-Ion battery packs, 8 wheels (2 different sizes), numerous gears (some about 1/4" thick), remote control, 8 motors (2 distinct types), 5 NXT sensors, special connectors for connecting Technic to Aluminum (see photo), and 2 special devices from HiTechnic that connect the electronics to the Brick.
The price that I was given is $900 and I was told orders would be taken starting in May and deliveries of kits in September.
Regarding use of VEX kits - there were LOTS of conversation in the pit area and the LEGO Ed booth, but I was not able to get an official answer from LEGO or FIRST on this issue; I heard from other sources, but I would prefer to get an official answer on that issue and will try and do so this week.
The Tetrix pieces are very strong - and the variety is awesome. They've developed a really nice little hole pattern that gives a LOT of flexibility for connecting Tetrix AND Technic pieces as many angles. They have a special name for the little piece that allows connection between the two but I cannot seem to recall it (another item for my To Do list). This piece is required because, as I understand it, the law of the land is "LEGO pieces shalt not touch its unpure metal brethren" (Yes, that's the exact words of the loud voice I heard booming in the LEGO booth - jk).
Speed? Well, Steve Hassenplug has a video that I hope he'll be sharing soon but if not I've got the low-quality video that I'll see about posting that shows some of its maneuverability and speed. It'll go.
I have to say, it's very cool to see an NXT Brick sitting on top of a medium sized metal robot - and the various robot designs I saw (about 10 or so) were all different and demonstrated that designers aren't going to get stuck with a limited range of chassis forms.
Finally, I did see a small picture of the version of the kit that will be available to the general public - it doesn't come with the NXT Ed Base Set and it has fewer Tetrix parts, but the price is also lower, I believe. Software is also not included now that I think about it. (It truly was information overload and this blogger will try and get better about taking notes in a notebook in the future - but it really does feel like being a kid in a candy store and attention spans go to zero with all the displays and conversations going on.)
Some of my questions which I don't have answered yet but will try and get some:
1. Will the HiTechnic Prototype Board be allowed so students can create their own sensors? (Probably not, but it would bridge the gap between FLL and FRC, you think?)
2. Will VEX be phased out slowly or discontinued in FTC altogether?
3. What types of expansion packs will be available and costs? (I am 95% certain I saw and heard about an expansion pack but let me confirm.)
Got more questions? Post them as comments here and I'll see about finding some answers this week.