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Unread 08-30-2018, 11:45 AM
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Re: How to pick a drive team?

Thanks. I will take anything you are willing to share!
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Unread 08-30-2018, 11:50 AM
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Re: How to pick a drive team?

Quote:
Originally Posted by msnodgrass View Post

I guess I am looking for a more concrete way to say you are the best we got based on some kind of data.

Does that make sense?
I think you will find that the best driver cannot be determined purely quantitatively. You can determine who has the best eye hand coordination or the most skill at any particular aspect of operating the machine, but you cannot tell who can do it under competition stress.
The ability to drive well in the shop with nothing on the line is not directly transferable to the ability to perform in front of thousands of people with your entire team's season on the line.

We use off season events to select our drive team. It's the only way to create an environment similar to what they will experience in the spring.
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Unread 08-30-2018, 12:47 PM
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Re: How to pick a drive team?

You're not going to get any single answer to the question posed in the title. It's a widely debated question with multiple valid answers.

Realistically, first you need to have some form of standard tryout. Doesn't really matter what, just standardize it and make it somewhat challenging. An obstacle course or a slalom, something to that effect. This is to get a gauge on "mechanical ability" - not mechanical as machinery, but rather another definition: "the way in which something is done or operated; the practicalities or details of something." AKA - raw driving talent.

Second, you should also examine candidates on strategy and/or game knowledge. Rules questions, open-ended strategy questions, etc.

What differs between people is how much to weigh each area of the selection process. Some people will choose the most mechanically gifted student and teach them strategy over the course of the build season, or rely on the drive coach to be the strategist behind the glass. Others will choose the smartest strategy person and have them practice driving enough to improve their mechanics of driving the robot.

It's up to you. I've had numerous conversations with people about which areas to weigh more heavily and it's hard to come to a consensus. Do what you think will lead to the most success. And remember - you may not always have perfect candidates. That's what practice is for.
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Unread 08-30-2018, 01:43 PM
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Re: How to pick a drive team?

Quote:
Originally Posted by msnodgrass View Post
Thank you for the reply! We have tried the drive test concept, however the problem is what do you look for, or grade when you are watching the kids drive? Do you time speed, accuracy, or is there a rubric that allows for impartial feedback?

I guess I am looking for a more concrete way to say you are the best we got based on some kind of data.

Does that make sense?
I don't pick based on any hard data from a tryout. I have used time drills to judge in the past, but the point was to watch someone perform under self-imposed stress. Ultimately speed of execution comes down to practice and iterating the robot design.

Here are my key priorities
1. Do you want to (they have to ask in person)
2. Attendance / academic standing (will you be able to make all the competitions?)
3. Maturity / respect of the team
4. Maturity / can you handle the pressure
5. Communication (are you willing / able to provide feedback to the coach and pit crew)
6. Communication / cooperation (can you work as a drive team)
7. Stick skills

You could make this into a decision matrix and give everyone a score if you want your decision based on "data" even though most of the above is subjective.

David
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Unread 08-30-2018, 02:10 PM
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Re: How to pick a drive team?

Something I havent seen mentioned here yet 1114's Team Management Seminar/PDF. 4513 has used this (the qualities order specifically) as a baseline to help pick their drive team for the past couple years. We also use a rules test (personally partial to 1836's but you can easily make your own) mainly to see who's interested and actually paying attention to the rules.

We also do a drive test with time limits, but as D.Allred said its not the greatest for seeing who's best with the bot. Driving skill is the easiest thing to improve, and if thats the only issue with someone they may still be the right choice.
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Unread 08-30-2018, 02:31 PM
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Re: How to pick a drive team?

Pick your drivers carefully.

Excellent drivers can make relatively bad robots look good on the field.
Our 2010 robot is terrible, but arguably our best season ever, including off-season. We never got our soccer ball kicker to work consistently the entire season, yet played forward/striker most of our matches.
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Unread 08-30-2018, 08:15 PM
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Re: How to pick a drive team?

A word from Captain Obvious:

Pick a drive team that hates the very idea of losing, and is willing to work longer and harder than anyone else to win.

We have had success for a few seasons now combining an experienced adult coach with driver/operator teams who share that passion for winning and hard work. They keep practicing until the robot is broken or all our batteries are dead.
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Unread 08-31-2018, 03:38 PM
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Re: How to pick a drive team?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Wallace View Post
Pick a drive team that hates the very idea of losing, and is willing to work longer and harder than anyone else to win.
Building off this though, I think it's important to pick members who take losses in stride and are able to consider why they lost from an objective standpoint then move on to the next match.

EDIT: It's also important to pick drivers who work well with each other and with the coach. I would rather pick someone who has less technical knowledge but is going to be friendly and helpful to the rest of the drive team than someone who knows every aspect of the robot but will be confrontational or stubborn about minor issues.
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Last edited by Eric Scheuing : 08-31-2018 at 03:42 PM.
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Unread 08-31-2018, 06:48 PM
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Re: How to pick a drive team?

[Rant]
I see a bunch of "Drive team should have a programmer" and "Drive team should have a someone who knows robot in and out" comments in this thread.

Are they valid? Absolutely, I've been involved with my team for long enough to know exactly what kinds of robots we build and how much "Babysitting" they need to run at competition.

But I wish more teams tried to remove them from the equation. (Mine included!)

If the auto modes are too intricate for the average student to set up then perhaps they need a bit more love. If the robot might go into weird states that only a programmer would know how to recover from, maybe, just maybe the code needs some work. Etc..

Now, before this year I would actually agree that a member of the "Drive Team" should know the robot in and out.(There's always a lot that happens in queue due to back to back matches.) However with the introduction of the "Technician" role that requirement has gone away.

Now I'm in no way saying that the drive team shouldn't know/learn these things. Just don't use them as hard requirements when assembling a drive team.
[/Rant]

The best piece of advice I can give is to pick your drive team as soon as you possible feel like you can. Some teams figure it out before build season, other shortly after they have a driving robot. Both are fine and you'll find one that works best for you. Whatever you do, don't leave picking a drive team until the day before load in at your first event of the season.
I may or may not be speaking from very(like 2018) recent experience.
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Unread 08-31-2018, 07:04 PM
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Re: How to pick a drive team?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nessie View Post
Now, before this year I would actually agree that a member of the "Drive Team" should know the robot in and out.(There's always a lot that happens in queue due to back to back matches.) However with the introduction of the "Technician" role that requirement has gone away.
Technicians are (arguably) useless during the match.

Not to say I dont disagree with your points, but having that as a consideration is still important imo. 4513 has more or less inadvertently had someone in each core part of the team (mech, programming, and business) in the driveteam, and especially in 2017 when we had issues with autos not being perfect, a programmer technician that may be stuck sitting in the back corner where they cant see anything is going to be junk compared to the programmer controlling the joystick or in the airship, and can easily use that knowledge to debug.

Frankly, its all what the team wants. IMO being well rounded is always a good step to being a better team and teammate both on and off the team, and thats what I would strive to do.
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Unread 09-02-2018, 11:46 PM
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Re: How to pick a drive team?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Loose Screw View Post
I coach and pick the drive team for a Jr. High FTC team. Here is what I do every year:

1) Give EVERY member a scoring quiz a week after kickoff. This doesn't give me much of an insight of driving, but rather which students are serious about the program (who took the time to study).

2) Ask the students who would like to drive, and for what position. Not every student wants to be on the drive team, so this helps narrow it down and take pressure off of those who don't want to try out.

3) Give students who want to try out a rules quiz. This will help narrow down the candidates. Those trying out for Drive Coach get a more in-depth quiz.

4) Narrow down the candidates and give them time for drive practice. During this time I can see who improves and who works well together.

5) Sit down with each drive coach candidate. Get a feel for how confident they will be on the field.

6) Set up an obstacle course that mimics the field during match conditions. Have each driver run the course 3 times, making note of improvements over time.

7) Run top 2-3 Drive Coach and Driver candidates with Manipulator candidates. See which team works best together. Have an adult mentor drive a practice team as a "partner" so you can see how the Drive Coach works with someone who might not follow directions.

8) Pick the drive team. The Drive Coach should be confident, knowledgeable, and works well with other teams. The Driver should be quick and efficient when driving. The Manipulator should make the robot look like those functions are autonomous.

9) Get ready for backlash. Not everyone will be happy with the outcome, but you should make sure all concerns are addressed. Keep backup drivers in mind as something might happen to your main team.
I feel that this is how all drive teams should be selected. Also...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim Sharp View Post
We use off season events to select our drive team. It's the only way to create an environment similar to what they will experience in the spring.
+1. If you're able to compete at off seasons, use them for drive team tryouts.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Wallace View Post
A word from Captain Obvious:

Pick a drive team that hates the very idea of losing, and is willing to work longer and harder than anyone else to win.

We have had success for a few seasons now combining an experienced adult coach with driver/operator teams who share that passion for winning and hard work. They keep practicing until the robot is broken or all our batteries are dead.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Eric Scheuing View Post
Building off this though, I think it's important to pick members who take losses in stride and are able to consider why they lost from an objective standpoint then move on to the next match.
This is very important. Make sure that the potential drive team is willing to practice. The ability to easily accept a loss and improve for the next match is definitely a positive.

Some (additional) criteria for drive team selection, which should be prioritized as follows:

1. Driving ability/skill. While practice may improve driving ability, a good driver can become an excellent driver with the same amount of practice that would make an average driver a good driver.

2. Ability to work with not only the rest of the drive team, but also the rest of the team as a whole and the other teams on an alliance. Drive team members should be able to quickly and easily adapt to abrupt changes in strategy/plan, robot or field issues, and anything else that could cause problems. If the driver(s) with the best driving ability are unable/unwilling to cooperate, work under pressure, and/or practice, then someone with a slightly lower skill level would probably be a better fit.

3. Knowledge of game and rules, including Team Updates.

4. Age/current grade of drive team candidates in relation to the other candidates. Older students should get priority over younger students, since they will have a shorter amount of time to be on a drive team.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nessie View Post
[Rant]
I see a bunch of "Drive team should have a programmer" and "Drive team should have a someone who knows robot in and out" comments in this thread.

Are they valid? Absolutely, I've been involved with my team for long enough to know exactly what kinds of robots we build and how much "Babysitting" they need to run at competition.

But I wish more teams tried to remove them from the equation. (Mine included!)

If the auto modes are too intricate for the average student to set up then perhaps they need a bit more love. If the robot might go into weird states that only a programmer would know how to recover from, maybe, just maybe the code needs some work. Etc..

Now, before this year I would actually agree that a member of the "Drive Team" should know the robot in and out.(There's always a lot that happens in queue due to back to back matches.) However with the introduction of the "Technician" role that requirement has gone away.

Now I'm in no way saying that the drive team shouldn't know/learn these things. Just don't use them as hard requirements when assembling a drive team.
[/Rant]
This as well. All team members should have the opportunity to try out for the drive team without having to consider (unwillingly) changing sub-teams just to be able to try out. If it turns out that the drive team includes students from mechanical, electrical, and programming sub-teams, great! If not, that's fine too as long as they can perform basic robot maintenance.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nessie View Post
The best piece of advice I can give is to pick your drive team as soon as you possible feel like you can. Some teams figure it out before build season, other shortly after they have a driving robot. Both are fine and you'll find one that works best for you. Whatever you do, don't leave picking a drive team until the day before load in at your first event of the season.
I may or may not be speaking from very(like 2018) recent experience.
I couldn't agree more. If offseason events are your tryouts (which are the best possible tryouts), you should have the drive team selected before Kickoff. If not, the selection should be complete by Build Season Week 3 at the latest, and even that is pushing it.

Once you've selected a drive team, keep note of where the other candidates ranked in the tryouts. If you have enough students, assign the second highest ranked drive team as a backup drive team. If you don't have enough students for a complete backup drive team, assign two (or at least one) as backup drive team members to fill whatever role may be needed. Be ready to switch drive teams at any time, for any reason. If the backup team's (or some of its members') skill level is equal or close to that of the primary drive team, consider rotating them occasionally during official matches. This allows the backup team to get some time on the field, and also helps prevent burnout.

If your drive team was selected before Kickoff, make sure they read the new game rules and keep up with the Team Updates. Give a rules test part way through Build Season, and again before your first event.

Practice makes perfect. Have your drive team practice, but don't limit it to just scoring. Practice anything that could happen on the field -- escaping pins, avoiding falling objects, getting a robot stuck on an obstacle moving again, and even righting a tortuga'd (overturned) robot. If possible, compete at a Week 0 event. Reach out to local teams and try to organize a "practice day" during Build Season at the local practice field. Don't just run one robot at a time, get six teams to play a basic match. Switch up their positions each time. The scoring doesn't have to be perfectly calculated, just get a good feel for the game. Get as many spectators as possible and have them make noise during the match. Play (somewhat) loud music. Try to simulate a competition environment. This is why offseasons are the best place for tryouts, but this will allow the drive team to become familiar with the new field and game elements.

Finally, have tryouts for every upcoming season. Do not automatically decide to keep the same drive team for another year. New students will have joined the team, and some of them may be better suited for one or more of the drive team positions. Maybe some returning students have decided they want to try out, or if a driver/coach/human player graduated, another student would like to fill the role. If it does happen that the previous season's drive team is still best, that's perfectly fine as long as you still had the tryout to be certain it was the right decision.

Good luck!
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Unread 09-03-2018, 08:37 AM
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Re: How to pick a drive team?

Quote:
Originally Posted by msnodgrass View Post
Hello Robot World,
Would anyone be willing to share how you select your team's drive team? Is there an assessment or metric you use to quantify who should be driving?

Thanks for sharing!
For our team, we would hold a driver tryout with a course that the drivers have to go through accurately, fast, and efficiently. For example this year we have cubes on the ground that the driver had to weave through and had to try to avoid them a,f, and e. There was also a test to see if they are ever willing to drive backwards which would fall under efficiency.
For the operators, they would work side by side with the drivers trying out and the mentors just test them on how well they communicate and how fast they respond to commands (Mentor:Elevator up! Student:Um wut).
For human players we get a quiz for them to take to make sure they know the safety rule and general rules of human playing.
Hope this helped you!
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Unread 09-16-2018, 02:02 AM
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Re: How to pick a drive team?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Wallace View Post
A word from Captain Obvious:

Pick a drive team that hates the very idea of losing, and is willing to work longer and harder than anyone else to win.
All of it, but this. Having a drive team (and particularly a driver) who is willing to come and practice long after it's fun, and a drive coach who watches match videos and things strategically and directs tactically makes up for a whole lot of "we could have made the robot [do this]".

Quote:
Originally Posted by Yossarian View Post
Something interesting to note: we have never used a rules quiz for selecting drivers.
Same here. Those who show the dedication to not losing, and putting in the work, will as a matter of course figure out the rules before competition. Our strategy/scouting sub-team also helps them get/keep straight if they miss something.
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Last edited by GeeTwo : 09-17-2018 at 12:13 AM.
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Unread 09-16-2018, 02:25 PM
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Re: How to pick a drive team?

We have a course that we drive a robot/RC car around from instructions that we get from our coach. We go with the top people based on the amount of tasks that they complete.

I wouold also recommend trying people together, so you can see who has the best synergy each other and the coach.
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Unread 09-16-2018, 04:50 PM
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Re: How to pick a drive team?

Hey all, I might have some stuff to add.

I like what everyone is saying about using off-seasons as tryouts, and while they are amazing for that, if they occur after September, try to have a very small pool of candidates. The less switching you do on the field will reinforce a drive team as one functioning whole unit, and build more confidence. At Fall Fiesta 2017 we didn't switch drive teams out, we instead used our two human player spots for 'shadows' who would stand behind the glass and observe the drivers and coaches work their magic. It got a lot of people interested, and of those people we interested, they seem to be more dedicated to practicing than those who did not go to that off season.

Something interesting to note: we have never used a rules quiz for selecting drivers. We go over rules as a team frequently, and for high-foul matches the drive team will go over every foul we incurred and make a plan for not doing that next match. The drivers (and coach!) are expected to have a reasonable grasp of the rule book, and it's evident when kids trying out do not have a clue.

A strategy we used for evaluating candidates was talking about their potential with multiple older members who were each part of different subteams but had all been to competitions together.

We use time trials to filter through candidates. An older student who has drive experience and who has watched a lot of matches (was usually me) will set a course where potential drivers need to navigate a few tight turns without hitting anything, complete an objective (pick up a gear, cube, etc), then drive backwards through the original obstacle course and park the robot where it started in the exact orientation. This is all timed, seconds are added for hitting things or going off the carpet, and we evaluate the speed of the tasks completed. We also always look at how well the driver is completing turns, and moving from one task to the next. I cannot stress how important that last part is. A driver and operator need to be able to switch mindsets from doing one task to doing another immediately. We have the cube, now we're scoring. There should be zero delay between picking up a game piece and positioning the robot for scoring. There should be zero delay between positioning the robot for scoring and scoring. The speed does not have to be breakneck, the drivers should be careful with the robot and make sure they are scoring properly (ex. not hitting the scale, not dropping cubes etc), but accurate.

Something I always pressured myself and my driver to do was to watch match videos of drive teams who are better than we were, and copy them. We drive a tank robot, so we would watch teams like 254, 148, 1678, 2056, 610, etc to find strategies they employed that would work for us as well. Then we practiced. A lot.

Practice: You never do enough of it. In the end, it may not matter exactly who was chosen for drive team. As long as they are practicing with the robot any time they are able to, you will do well at competition. Think about match strategies that you may have to use, and then practice them. Try to find a space for half or full-field practice, and use it. We improved a crazy amount from Durham 2018 to North Bay 2018 because we a) improved our robot's lift speed, b) acquired the carpet from Durham (bus broke down and we were stranded, it's a long story), and c) practiced until our hands fell off or the robot broke every meeting. We realized after Durham that we had an issue with hitting the scale. So, we practiced scale cycles every meeting, lining the back bumper up with the edge of the field so we wouldn't hit the scale. I (the operator) was also training my trigger-finger response to raising the lift to make sure we wouldn't be hitting the scale for no reason. We had kids forcing the scale away from the side we were scoring on to practice scoring when it was not in our favor. We had kids unload cubes from the scale and throw them around the field to practice grabbing cubes from anywhere. As much practice as we possibly could do, we did.

Side note: This should go without saying, but please pick one drive team, and do NOT switch out drivers ever. I would even recommend against switching human players. It stifles your robot's ability to preform, and it confuses the heck out of teams who are trying to scout you.

One last thing: having members of drive who are from specific sub-groups may work well on some teams, but it was different for us. I was not part of a specific sub-group this past year (I was operator), but I was heavily involved with scouting teams who we would be competing against, and developing strategies to win. However, my driver was the lead robot programmer. He built almost all of our auto modes, and could fix almost any programming issue we had. Pushing the lead robot programmer into a driving position is a good route, as they are going to have a lot of hands-on experience with the robot anyways, and will probably pick up some good driving habits along the way.

Bottom line: A drive team who understands strategy, their robot and how it works, and is able to work with others will be a very good one.

TL;DR:
Pick carefully but quickly. Derive a method for picking that works for your team, and then make them practice with the robot until either the robot dies or the drivers pass out.
__________________
2019: ?????

2018: FRC 2708 Drive Team - Durham College Quarterfinalists, North Bay Finalists, FOPC Semifinalists, Detroit Championship WINNERS #all27everything

2017: FRC 2708 Drive Team - Ryerson Quarterfinalists, North Bay Quarterfinalists

2016: FRC 2809 Media - GTRC Semifinalists, Finger Lakes Quarterfinalists

2015: FRC 2809 Database Programmer - Finger Lakes was a disaster
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