Driver Practice/Training

Hello Drivers and Drive Coaches of CD. I was looking at putting together a series of drills and practice routines to help train new drivers and to get them familiar with the motion of a robot, probably a previous robot or practice chassis, and then continuing doing the same drills with their competition robot or practice robot. Ideally this gets them to the point of driving being second nature and they can focus on how best to play the game rather than how to move the robot on the field.

What I’m looking for is if any of you have something similar that you do to get your drivers into competition shape that I could add onto the set I have currently.

Thanks in advance!

I had written a post for the TBA Blog on the topic, but I’m by no means an expert. I suggest looking at 2168’s driver training document from 2011, and playing videogames that have tangible objective ways of testing reaction timing and improve communication, like Keep Talking & Nobody Explodes, and Super Meat Boy.

I’m fond of preparing by giving drivers a robot that’s faster and twitchier than what they’ll see in competition. AndyMark had a Peanut Chassis with big 8" wheels on it that was genuinely challenging to control at demos while I worked there. If they can get smooth on something like that, a more stable robot should be a simple transition.

Three other things that are good to prepare for: defenders, crowd noise, and crappy sight lines. For the latter, we made kids drive with their backs to the robot and only do the webcam. Worked pretty alright.

Haha we put duct tape over a pair of safety glasses. Needless to say, the driver developed a fear of safety glasses after that.

We keep our previous year’s robot and key field elements for demos until and through the following competition season; we also make these available in-house for practice driving. Playing last year’s game is usually pretty decent practice at learning general driving.

This year, we plan to build two or three prototype chassis* in the fall to a) give the rookies projects to learn on, and b) serve as a programmed rolling chassis to tack prototype intakes and manipulators on. These will also be available for practice; if used this way, we’ll likely add some weight in semi-random locations.

*These will utilize recent year’s frames. Most likely a full-size mostly stock AM14U3 (but 8.45:1 rather than 10.71:1 because we have plenty of those gears), a 2/3 AM14U3, and if we get that far, an AM14U3 with a four TB micro mecanum drive.