Drive Team Selection

hey everybody,

im team 342’s (the burning magnetos, charleston sc) drive team coach and former driver from 2010-2012. i was coach last year and selected a pretty solid drive team to be honest. but we have a lot more students this year than we did last year and therefore a lot more to choose from. im pretty sure im keeping my main driver and captain, but i wanted to know some criteria everyone else uses to select drive team positions. such as co driver and human player. if anyone has like a spreadsheet kind of thing they go through to make selections kind of like scouting at competition or anything.
right now i just kind of base the main driver off flat out skill and a time trial. the other positions ive picked off of gut instinct, which is always a good factor, id like to have some statistics to go with it and i just wanted to know if anyone else has some criteria they can build statistics on to choose these spots. thanks!

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Once I select a driver, I typically stay with them until they graduate. I really hate seeing that experience go to waste.

If I’m selecting a new driver, I let anyone that wants to try out have a go.
I usually give them a few minutes of driving around to get used to the controls then put them through a simple drive simulation. Key things I look for at that time are the ability to follow instructions, ability to adapt on the fly, and natural talent.

After that, I usually select a top three and put them through an obstacle course of different levels and look for progression and mental toughness.

Hope this helps.

-Lenny

Before you think about how to choose a driver, you should brainstorm qualities that you believe are important in a driver. For example, here are a few we used on 2791:

  • Ability to make the robot go desire places
  • Ability to adapt to new/changing situations on the fly
  • Communication skills
  • Ability to stay calm and work under pressure
  • Ability to receive and utilize feedback
  • Willingness to dedicate time to driver practice

From there, you can develop ways to assess candidates on your criteria. On 2791, we had a two-part driver tryout process:

  • Round one was open to all candidates. It was just driving around an obstacle course according to the instructions of our drive coach, such as “drive around that cone two times” and “go around that cone backward”.
  • For round two, we invited the two candidates we were torn between. We took our new bot, set up some cones for obstacles, dumped some fuel around, and had them pick up as much as they could in a short time period. Then, we had me play the “target” while another mentor played the “defender”. Their goal was to drive as close to me while I ran away AND avoid touching the defender. We found this was an excellent way to assess the split-second, on-the-fly decisionmaking that is critical to effective driving. One candidate really made me work up a sweat and think on my toes to avoid him, and that was what made our drive coach and I realize we wanted him to be our base driver.

I was really happy with our process and will likely do something very similar this year.

Here are a few recent threads that discuss this topic:

White paper
2017 Thread
2016 Thread
2015 Thread

These threads have some good info, but here are two in specific that I thought I would highlight: 254 and 2168. Both do a good job of compiling info on how their teams select and prepare a drive team.

2168
2168 pt2
254

THESE. (though the order is dependent on your (drive coach’s) style and skill set.) As with any sport or other high speed activity, it is critical that the drive team members trust each other to do their jobs. Brian’s #1 is the ability to do the job, the other five enable trust and teamwork.

When I was a drive coach, I went looking for resources and opinions to make a drive team manual. When I found this, I realized I didn’t need to make one at all, because this is all anybody needs. If you followed this to the letter, you wouldn’t be going wrong.