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Unread 05-06-2004, 05:43 PM
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[Official 2005 Game Design] Autonomy Discussions

This thread is a spin-off of this discussion, and has been started to focus on suggestions for autonomous operations for the FRC. This is a thread to present new ideas for autonomous elements in the game. While autonomy need not be a part of a specific game, creative uses of autonomy components in any game are sought. For example, a discussion may be presented that proposes the autonomous portion of the game be ______ (and we look forward to the many variations of filling in the blank).

-dave
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Unread 05-06-2004, 06:01 PM
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Re: [2005 Game Design] Autonomy Discussions

Hrm ... maybe I'm crazy and this is just a tad bit radical, but here goes nothing!

I would like to see a return of infrared. Maybe a miniture robot could start moving through the field randomly (or controlled actively by FIRST officials) once some task is performed by a robot. This "mini bot" would have an IR beacon on it, and its release would kick the robots into autonomous mode. The goal would be to somehow capture the mini bot, possibly having to place it in some recepticle. Control could then return to the operators, or maybe there could be some other task to perform.

Now programming a robot to follow another robot and capture it wouldn't be easy, and might present a barrier for some teams, I admit (although I can't think of anything funner than trying to do this!) The twist that I like to this idea, though, and what helps to eliminate that barrier is the activation of auto mode. Maybe a robot has to enter into some zone on the playing field, or knock off a ball similar to this year. A robot which didn't have an auto mode could be designed defensively to stop the activation of auto mode. It would also be interesting strategically ... the best teams would be able to start in auto mode from anywhere, while those still stubborn enough to rely on dead reckoning would want to be sure they were at a certain spot when auto mode is activated (presuming there's some other minor task beside capturing the robot ... although I suppose a dead reckoning bot might also randomly go about trying to capture the mini bot, but then the starting position wouldn't be so important).

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Unread 05-06-2004, 06:04 PM
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Re: [Official 2005 Game Design] Autonomy Discussions

Autonomous mode has to be a task that is generally easy to complete-- both this year, and last year satisfied that requirement. Knocking a ball off of the post, or hitting a giant stack of bins is "relatively" easy to get a robot to do autonomously.

The game needs to keep this "ease" of play, but add a new element. What if, the alliances were randomly selected by the computer, so you did not know if you were red or blue until the match started. The field was also in a sort of "random" setup. The robots could have a "dead reckoning program", but it might knock off the wrong ball, or hit the wrong stack.

If a game used two different colored balls, use of sensors could allow a robot to detect which color balls you are touching, would make the autonomous task quite a bit more interesting. This would also still allow for rookie teams to design dead reckoning programs that just suck up any color ball at random, and the drivers can later decide what to do with them.


Also--

What about moving autonomous to the end of the match? That way there is no way of knowing where you are starting at the beginning of autonomous. This could still allow rookie teams to use "dead reckoning", but their drivers would have to be disciplined enough to get back to a certain spot on the field before the start of autonomous.

Just throwing a few ideas on the table..

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Unread 05-06-2004, 06:31 PM
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Re: [Official 2005 Game Design] Autonomy Discussions

My only big recomendation for autonomous is that you think about it happening at the end of the game. Think about having an infared on the bar from this year. The bar would start off at 10 feet, but then after auton begins, it lowers to 7 feet. Not only would that give an advantage to attach during auton, but also requires the robots to attach to the bar higher if they do it during regular play. I think implementing that idea, not specificly, but in the same context, would be awsome. Any field features that move, crash, or are tall are cool.
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Unread 05-06-2004, 07:02 PM
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Re: [Official 2005 Game Design] Autonomy Discussions

I think that for now the automonous mode should be as it has been for the past 2 years, a simple goal at the beginning of the match. Before making it a more critical part of the game i think we should let it develop a little more so teams can become more comfortable with it. There were a lot of teams i saw this year that didn't have any automonous at all. If it becomes too complicated too fast then many teams will be left behind and the teams with experianced programmers will have a huge advantage. I also think that the majority of the match should remain under human controll. As a spectator it is much more fun to see competative human driven robots compete than slow computer controlled ones. I do really like mtrawls idea of having a mini bot on the feild that teams would have to catch. Mayby something like 100 points for catching it during automonous and 50 for getting it under human controll. Although as i driver i would prefer the whole match to be under human controll. I just think that 2 minutes of competitive gameplay is more fun than 1 minute and 45 seconds of it.

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Unread 05-06-2004, 07:42 PM
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Re: [Official 2005 Game Design] Autonomy Discussions

Autonomous mode usually consists of:
A) Robots doing nothing.
B) One robot doing a lot very quickly.
C) The majority of the time consisting of nothing, with very few exceptions.

Thus, either shorten the time for the autonomous mode or lengthen the driver control period back to the 2min length prior to 2003.

In addition, large targets like the wall of bins in 2003 were fun, but it is more interesting for there to be a smaller target (10pt ball in 2004) or perhaps a target that moves???
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Unread 05-06-2004, 07:46 PM
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Re: [Official 2005 Game Design] Autonomy Discussions

Each team is given a beacon that belongs to the opposition. They can place anywhere on the field. Once auton mode begin the teams must find their beacon and turn it off. Maybe a bumper 4 " off the ground. Turning the beacon off in auton mode = 25 points. Taking beacon to predestined place on field + 25 points. All to be done in auton mode. Team has choice after 15 seconds to turn auton mode off or try and continue to complete task before taking control of the robot.

If you gave us a field layout and description of 2005 game it would be much easier to design an auton mode.
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Unread 05-06-2004, 08:01 PM
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Re: [Official 2005 Game Design] Autonomy Discussions

Robots should be able to score points in autonomous mode. For example, in addition to releasing the balls from the chute, 2004's yellow balls could have been worth 10 points for knocking them off of the tee.
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Unread 05-06-2004, 08:25 PM
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Re: [Official 2005 Game Design] Autonomy Discussions

I personally am not too keen on the idea of having a "mini-bot" for us to capture. Don't get me wrong, it seems like it'd be a cool idea... IF it were feasible. Through the course of a single regional, I can imagine this little mini-bot getting utterly destroyed by the 130 pound behemoths.
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Unread 05-06-2004, 08:56 PM
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Re: [Official 2005 Game Design] Autonomy Discussions

Hmmm...

They gave us fair warning, I think we should have a really challenging IR element that is not a crucial component of the game but rather a large bonus. This way rookies don't get flustered and those who need the challenge have considerable incentive to do so. It should be a situation where successful completion of the IR objective is very hard, though not impossible, to beat by non-IR-objective bots.

Autonomus this year was essentially useless, and many teams who could do it didn't because it wasn't strategically sound.

I like the "capture the little bot thingy" idea a lot. It wouldn't be to hard to make a simple and super-durable robot with a simple IR blaster atop it.

So here is my proposal:
During the last 20-30 seconds of the match (after the obligatory countdown) the drivers lose control and the robots go into auto mode. There should be two ways to score:

1) Something involving a scoring area. You'd have to make it such that teams could not dominate this option by "camping" it during the driver period. Perhaps there would be several scoring areas and exactly which one is THE scoring area is transmitted to the robots.

2) Two options here:

Flipping the mini-bot
Moving the minibot into a certain area (Your side of the feild, a basket, etc.)

The real issue I see with something like this would be time. Sadly people (non FIRST and otherwise) don't get riled up about auto mode that much. You have to make a tradeoff between interesting auto (which takes time), and appeal to the masses.

But hey, moving auto to the end of the round might make it really exciting, a sort of cliff-hanger beyond human control. Yeah, that would be great.

I can't wait till 2005!
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Unread 05-06-2004, 09:16 PM
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Re: [Official 2005 Game Design] Autonomy Discussions

You know Im a fan of seeing the multiplier being the target in autonomous, whether it has to be released or captured in autonomous and maybe not have it in the game if its not released. I would also like to see the return of the gyros and such. That way you could have an autonomous at the end of the match also. I think that would through the game for a loop.

-Just some thoughts

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Unread 05-07-2004, 05:25 PM
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Re: [Official 2005 Game Design] Autonomy Discussions

Quote:
Originally Posted by JosephM
My only big recomendation for autonomous is that you think about it happening at the end of the game. Think about having an infared on the bar from this year. The bar would start off at 10 feet, but then after auton begins, it lowers to 7 feet. Not only would that give an advantage to attach during auton, but also requires the robots to attach to the bar higher if they do it during regular play. I think implementing that idea, not specificly, but in the same context, would be awsome. Any field features that move, crash, or are tall are cool.
Don't think having the autonomous mode at the end would make for such an exciting game.

The end is when all the "big" things happen. Spectators generally like this part the most. Plus, we don't want to get rid of all that stress/adrenaline/excitement that the drivers have at the end, trying to win a big one!
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Unread 05-07-2004, 08:30 PM
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Re: [Official 2005 Game Design] Autonomy Discussions

OK, just a few ideas...

- Start in auto mode, get extra points for every second you STAY in auto mode. You can leave auto mode at any time.

- Don't let the drive team see what's going on during auto mode - they don't know where they will be when it stops.

- As much as I have been saying "Auto at the End", keep it at the beginning. This year was "AWESOME BABY", watching the robots go at it at the end for the "HOOK UP BAR, BABY!" (Let's hear it NEWTON FIELD, BABY!)
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Unread 05-07-2004, 08:38 PM
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Re: [Official 2005 Game Design] Autonomy Discussions

I like the random idea, but I think we should be able to access Alliance/starting position info in code in this case. (of course, this presents the problem of changing it in the middle of a game...)
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Unread 05-08-2004, 01:24 PM
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Re: [Official 2005 Game Design] Autonomy Discussions

I have come to like autonomous mode. The difficulty for the past two years has been that we had to figure out how the controller would perform, especially with autonomous mode switching (which you couldn't really determine until you put your bot out on the field). By switching between pBASIC to C, we were thrown back to ground zero in both 2003 and 2004.

If FIRST sticks with a C programmable controller and maybe releases the timing diagram for auto mode switching, so that we can exactly match what the field system is doing, we should be able to make lots of advances in the off season, both through 2004 robots and the robo-edu-bot-vision-thing.

Teams are likely to start sharing knowledge over the summer, so, rookie teams and teams which did not accomplish much in 2004 should be able to quickly get up to speed.

What would make AUTO more effective...
MORE SENSORS!!!!!
We used the Analog Devices yaw rate sensor very effectively this past year. If we had gotten our encoders working properly, we could have done a go straight at contant (known) velocity for a known number of seconds. As it was, just feed back on the yaw rate sensor allowed us to go straight and turn to a fixed heading.

We could figure uses for ultrasonic sensors, touch sensors, and force sensors, if they were readily available and didn't blow the electronics budget.

We had a novel use for a strain gage. But, it was not allowable under the rules. If FIRST relaxes the electronics rules or makes specific sensor rules (ie you can buy a sensor from ANY supplier at ANY cost within the overall budget constraints) you will see a lot more creativity in AUTO mode.
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