A salute to simplicity

As we all know, the autonomous modes this year were extremely important to a team’s success. Some teams had amazing and complex autonomous modes where all they would do is set up their bot and their camera would do all the work for them to put in 10 balls. We were all amazed by their technical skills.

But I would like to especially recognize the teams that did nothing more than initialize autonomous and have their drive trains go forward. With that little bit of code, a good eye, great scouting ( a scout on my team watched another team refine their autonomous mode for two hours at a competion just to get an accurate report), and a little bit of intuition, teams were able to make that little bit of code go a real long way.

Setting up for a match was like a game of chess. You knew your piece’s abilities, you knew theirs. It was a game to guess what they were going to do.

For me, nothing felt better than watching the powerhouse’s 10 balls fly off into nowhere or hit my robot because of a well placed straightline auto mode.

So a salute to simplicity is in order.

Anyone have any stories of an awesome play, a great calculation, or a stroke of luck in your favor.

Here’s one from me.

It was the our match of the saturday at SBPLI. My team (1546) was nervous considering we were facing an alliance with both 353 and 329. With the ramp capabilities of 353 and the dumping of 329, it looked like a sure loss. We needed every point possible to win. 353 had just developed a new autonomous to put them in prime position for going up the ramp in the first driver controlled period. We decided that it was more important to stop them from getting an easy ramp then to stop a possible 10 point dump by 329. So we line up our robot to go to the exact spot where 353 would go and set auto to a slow moving straight line. We end up contacting 353 while they were still moving, causing them to turn a little, causing them to hit 329 who was attempting a cross field auto dump. All 10 of 329’s balls just hit the side wall and bounced around the sides. We won autonomous and a last second alliance ramp at the end of the match afforded us a narrow victory over these powerhouses.

P.S. I sincerely apologize to any teams that feel we hit them a little hard in auto. It was not our intention to harm, but we needed that speed to be effective.

In one of the qualifying matches at Wisconsin, we did our kamikaze routine against 1625, who could sink 8+ balls in auto from the starting position. We hooked the corner of their robot with our cut off front bumper and our robot swung around to push straight against theirs. The front end of both robots went up, and stopped at about a 30 degree angle when the time ended. Another 1/10 of a second and we both would have tipped. We were able to back out under operator control. We then switched our kamikaze mode to go backwards so we wouldn’t tip.

Good point, overall. Simplicate and add lightness.

Ours didn’t drive anywhere, but the code was amazingly simple. Spin up the bottom goal shooter wheel, let in balls. Worked nicely, it won us at least one match. I believe it was 540 at VCU that used the ram method and it was quite useful, and effective!

A word of warning:

“Kamikaze” teams have been called for ramming in autonomous mode. Guess we’ll have to wait till the drivers meeting in ATL to be sure how the refs will call this.

Um, no…our autonomous modes are incredibly complicated; some on their own are simple, but the fact that we have 208 of them (right now, we might get more) complicates everything.

I do have a story of a simple autonomous mode with…disastrous…results. During the semi finals at Pittsburgh, we were shooting in autonomous mode, and 1370 was blocking for us because we knew the opposing alliance would try to block us. 398 was blocking us, and when they hit 1370, they changed angles just enough so that 398 went straight up on the ramp and hit our alliance wall, full-speed, and knocked our control board off the shelf and onto the floor. It landed face down and snapped our joystick. When autonomous mode ended, our 'bot was doing donuts and we had a useless joystick.

At the end of a match, a bot rammed the wall several times, so hard that I had to brace the controller board platform and board. Luckily our board stayed on. Too bad for you.

At SoCal our operator sidepanel got knocked off twice during qualifiers in autonomous, and while in human control mode during the finals, our alliance 4 had their whole OI knocked down.

Continuing with the salute to simplicity, I think such a salute would be incomplete without mentioning 322’s simple ball vacuum and dumper with the automatic 10 point autonomous. Well done on their part.

In Milwaukee right when we (111, 1816, and 1625) went into finals 1816 didnt have an autonomous and they asked us for help to program one. We sent a couple programmers over and they had a run out auto. A couple matches later in the finals 1816 ran out and shut down both of the alien twins. It was awesome to see how effective that little bit of programming was.

Team 104’s auto mode was very simple. We wanted the middle position. The robot was optically aimed by the players. At the start of auto mode the shooter motor was turned on, a timer was started and the drive motors set to half speed. After the timer reached the programed time, turn the drive motors off and turn the ball feeder on. The shooter was fixed. As long as the kids aimed it correctly, it worked. We always got 3 to 6 balls in. Because our bot was so simple we put the weight in the frame and kept the cg low. after auto mode we basically spent the time playing defense and annoying the opponents. We could go up the ramp. Nothing complicated, just a cheap simple bot that didn’t break. Took us to the finals at Philly and stunned the whole team with it’s effectiveness.

:ahh: I wanted to get to that first :wink: ! Yeah, that was really fun to watch. I remember one time when we went out straight and kind of hooked and turned one of the martians in to the other one, shutting down both of their autonomous modes. Thanks so much to you guys for that, when I think about it now I think that that may have made the difference in those final matches.

A word of warning:

“Kamikaze” teams have been called for ramming in autonomous mode. Guess we’ll have to wait till the drivers meeting in ATL to be sure how the refs will call this.

They don’t call them ballistic behaviors for nothing. With no sensors and no feedback the robot essentially becomes a loose cannon. (No. I am not making this up. Ballistic behaviors is the proper term.)

At the SBPLI regional, the head ref said he needed an intention to harm in order for him to call a ramming penalty.

I dont think I saw any team that used full pwm values to make a straightline autonomous. And if something went drastically wrong and out of control, there is always the use of the E-stop button.

I think the design of the starting position practically limits the bot closest to their driver station to do some sort of defensive autonomous mode.

On our robot we have a belt drive kind of like an elevator to bring up the balls when we drive over them placing them into the hopper. It seems to work very well. Then the elevator door slides open and then we reverse the motors and spit them out. During Auto mode we have the balls in the hopper and all we do is drive straight forward and reverse the belts to spit out the balls, 10 balls. If need be we zoom across the floor to stop another robot from scoring in auto mode. Many robot have tried to defend against us in auto mode to stop us from going to the side goal but we are so fast that they can’t get there in time. Here is a pic of our robot. It’s a bit stretched out and an older picture before ship day but you can see what I’m talking about. It still looks the same though:

That was the toughest defensive play aginist us all season including the Championship. Great job. Try to go a little easier on us next year :smiley:

We had one match where the straight-line autonomous worked perfectly. We were on red, and about a second after autonomous started, we hit the back corner of a shooter opposite us, causing it to swing about 90 degrees. It then proceeded to shoot 10 balls at the stands, which eventually made the match for us.

ok. I have a great Auto storie. It was at atlanta. Im not sure wat match it was but it was great. So here it goes. Our programmers for 1390 said they fixed auto mode. Boy were they wrong. It was supposed to go forward and shoot at the target. But instead when the match started it went forward about a foot and did doughnuts for the rest of the 5 seconds. We were laughing and confused at the same time. But it gets better. Im not sure y but we had to do that match again. Well the drivers didnt even touch the auto. cuz they didnt have time. They just took the bot off the ramp and put it into starting position. So the match started once agin. But instead of the doughnuts it went forward (like it was supposed to do) and then it drove our ball pick up system bacwards :ahh: y!!!. We still dont no. But we think our programmers might of created artificial intelligence. lol. :smiley: