Driver Station Research

My name is Xavier Howard and I am on team 7457. I am doing a project at school where I will be creating a new driver station for my team. I wanted to ask some questions related to it.

  • Does a teams drive team’s appearance affect how you view them?
  • How does the drive station computer affect match play?
  • Is the drive station an important part of the drive team?
  • Does having an aesthetic and easy to use drive station help the drive?
    Responses are greatly appreciated.

The simpler things can be, the better i is for your drivers. Having everything neatly laid out and organized is very helpful. As for the computer, the biggest thing to keep in mind is cpu usage. I’ve heard the laptop in the kit of parts has a hard time with this. You also want to disable a lot of the startup programs aside from driver station essentials.

  1. A team’s drive team’s appearance does not affect how I view them, since some of the best drive teams out there simply carry around two Xbox controllers hooked to a laptop.
  2. I’m going to skip this question because I have no idea.
  3. The drive station is definitely an important part of the drive team since it’s what allows the drive team to drive, and it allows other drive teams to see how you chose to control your robot (most of the time it’s a combination of Xbox controllers, joysticks, and buttons).
  4. The aesthetics don’t necessarily help the drive team, though it can spark conversations about how you built/configured it and how it works. The easier to use a drive station is, the more helpful it is for a drive team for sure. This year we custom-built a manipulator board and 3D-printed a rocket to make it easier for our manipulator to visualize where we were heading next, and we laid out the board so it would be easy for him to figure out.

However, I wouldn’t spend too much time on building a nice drive board this early on. A computer connected to a couple of controllers that are maybe laid out on some sort of easy-to-carry contraption will do the job and allow you to focus on more off-season projects regarding the robot.

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The project is for my school so It wont be an off season project. It will be done during my school day. Thank you for the feedback.

A drive teams appearance and the stations aesthetic are only really a talking point and can help improve communication, outside of that they only matter for personal satisfaction.
The station itself is very important, as it speaks to how complicated the functions of the robot can be, or how seamless the process is. We have around 15 buttons for our operator that are used for putting our elevator at certain levels, different climb levels, an override switch, and we also ways for manually doing these. The Driver has about 9 buttons on a joystick which control the main intake out take type functions and a few others that the driver feels comfortable doing by himself. The laptop is fairly important as it decides how seamlessly the vision systems work if you have them, as it can decide lower fps or more latency.
Overall I would saw we are a bit of an oddity as many teams at the regionals we went to didnt have as many buttons as we do, which made it easier on their drive team I would assume, and it did not really effect how competitive they were.

A good computer is important for a good drivers station if you want to do any processing, but remember it doesnt have to be expensive, when you are searching for one find a laptop with a good CPU and 8-16 gigs of ram (also a huge plus if there is a built in ether net port, lots of USB drives, or a SSD). you should design a driver station just like you design a robot, think of all the things you want to accomplish with it, we have hooks that hook onto our cart and a large open section that allows for modification each year like for a button box, monitor, etc.

For #2. Gosh. If your xbox controller decides to not connect even after fta help, you’re basically screwed.

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No, we solely evaluate teams based on on-field performance.

Reliability, more than anything. It needs to connect to the field and your controllers, every match, without fail.

They can’t drive without it, so yes.

Aesthetics, no. Ergonomics, yes.

We just got a Precision 3530 laptop for 5052. It has a really powerful CPU, 8 gigs of RAM, a 92whr 6-cell battery, a solid, built-in Ethernet port, and insanely good reliability/serviceability. If it’s in the budget, I would highly recommend one of these.

The aesthetics of a drive station doesn’t really matter during competitions, but at off-season demos it can be a nice icebreaker. My team built a pretty cool drive station for Power Up with arcade buttons and a general retro video game aesthetic, and at our last demos both passersby and members of the other teams have complimented us on it as a conversation starter.

Also if you’re gunning for the Imagery Award, having a drive station that aligns with the overall aesthetic of your team can only help!

I remember at the beginning of the season I tasked myself to make a new driver station. My designs ended up being too ambitious and just made a bigger one than our previous driver station with the addition of LEDS.

  1. Subconsciously it does personally, but in reality we all know having a good driver station doesn’t correlate to robot skill

  2. Yes Yes Yes. Having a good computer is incredibly important. During practices, we would frequently use my personal laptop (a Surface) , which would constantly heat up and increase lag spikes. At comp we didn’t have this issue, because we used a different laptop that wouldn’t heat up.

  3. Its pretty important, since it houses everything needed to drive the robot. It allows for easy transport of all of the various devices, and reduces clutter.

  4. From my experience, the main advantage in match with having a driver station is setup. Being able to quickly setup and remove the station allows us keep discussing the match, set up the robot on the field, and preplace game-pieces in a timely fashion. During match, I feel no difference between having and not having a station (however we are using controllers and not joysticks, so results may vary)

Remember to keep the design requirements in the game manual in mind, specifically regarding size of station!

  1. I’ve never heard of drive teams scout for driver station quality.

  2. Our computer has a lot of bloatware and occasionally has decided to disconnect to the field which is very frustrating, although during match play it hasn’t been an issue.

  3. It is very important as it’s where the rubber meets the road in terms of driver - robot. The controls need to be simple and intuitive (line playing a video game.) Also, if you’re using a camera, it’s an awesome idea to get a screen that’s propped up to eye level with the drivers and just to the side. This way it’s like a heads up display. To see the camera, all the driver needs to do is point their eyes to the screen, rather than look down and up every time they need to check the camera.

  4. Easier to carry means it’s less work to carry it long distances, especially at champs. That definitely contributes to “user satisfaction”.

  1. Make it as light as possible. At some point, someone might be carrying that without setting it down.
  2. Make it easy to disassemble. If the programmers or drivers request to change controls, it needs to be easy to rip everything out and replace the joysticks of they’re broken, or more controls are needed. The only exception to this are custom button boards. If you go with a custom button board, still try to make it easy to extend and change.
  3. Remove bloatware on the computer, firewalls off, make sure there’s either no password, or a password written on the computer.
  4. Label buttons! Buttons need labels so if the driver or operator changes, it’s not a mystery to them.
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I think some of the ‘high effort’ drive stations are cool, but the practical advantage is small. The biggest advantage is they’ve thought about the functionality and that labels are helpful, especially as operators are learning. I think it is important that it is easy to use and 100% reliable. It is nice to have some features that make it more functional. We mounted the laptop at an angle on a linear slide this year, which let us move it more in line with the driver vision (but also we could use it lower if desired. One small oversight is that initially we were taller than the 60" from floor rule allowed. Honesty, I saw other taller drive stations and think that the rule should be closer to 72".