Driver's Test

We wanted a medium-difficult test (and a study prompt) for our would-be drivers. In the unlikely event you are interested at this late date, I also have the test in Microsoft Word format, and could easily make a PDF. These are our questions:

Team 1294: Top Gun 2006
Flight Crew (“Driving Team”) Test
February, 2006

Your Name: ___________________________________________

  1. How big is the playing field (in feet – e.g., 100x200)?
  2. What is the playing surface covered with?
  3. Measured to the center of the Center Goal, how high is the goal?
  4. Who makes the balls, how big are they in diameter, and approximately how much do they weigh?
  5. What is the angle of the ramp at and what is it covered with?
  6. What is the platform covered with?
  7. How many balls does each robot start with (maximum)?
  8. How many total balls are in play at the start of a match?
  9. Which members of the Flight Crew (aka Driving Team: driver, game operator, human player, coach) are allowed to talk to the referees?
  10. Which members of the Flight Crew work with team members on alliance partner teams during a match?
  11. What is the autonomous period and how long does it last?
  12. How many non-autonomous periods are there, and how long do they each last?
  13. How many robots are on an alliance?
  14. If the referee decides you robot is behaving unsafely, what will they do during a match?
  15. What is the maximum legal launch velocity of the balls?
  16. Does the alliance that wins in autonomous go on defense or offense in the second period?
  17. Describe at least four situations in which robots may legally make contact against other robots:
    17.1.
    17.2.
    17.3.
    17.4.
  18. Describe at least two situations in which robots may NOT legally make contact with other robots:
    18.1.
    18.2.
  19. Describe all the ways you can score using the Poof balls.
  20. Describe the end-of-match scoring on the ramps.
  21. At the end of the match there are two blue alliance robots and two red alliance robots on the blue ramp. There is one blue and one red robot on the red ramp.
    21.1. How many points does red score?
    21.2. How many points does blue score?
  22. What may NOT be used to align your robot at the beginning of the match?
  23. Redbot 1 shoots a ball towards the center goal and it goes through after the buzzer sounds. Does it score?
  24. Bluebot 1 can fire so quickly that three balls are in the air heading for the center goal as the buzzer sounds. All of them go through the goal after the buzzer. How many of them – if any – score?
  25. Redbot 2 is dumping 20 balls into the corner goal. The first six have gone through and then the buzzer sounds. Redbot 2 has a gravity dumper, so all 20 balls go through. How many of them – if any – score?
  26. Bluebot 2 rolls balls along the floor through the corner goals. They have shot five balls along the floor just before the buzzer, and all go through after the buzzer. How many of them – if any – score?
  27. At the end of the match, the Red alliance has three robots on its platform. Two of them are all the way on, but the third is resting on the diamond plate of the ramp. How many points does Red score for this?
  28. At the end of the match, the Red alliance has two robots on its platform. Redbot 3 is partially on the ramp, but its other end is being held up by Bluebot 2 which is resting on the floor of the arena. Bluebot 2 is not on the ramp, and Redbot 3 is not touching the arena floor. How many points does Red score for this, and why?
  29. What is the penalty for a robot that leaves the playing field in Periods 2 through 4?
  30. What is the penalty for a robot that leaves the playing field in Autonomous?
  31. What is the “backbot”?
  32. If your backbot crossed the midline, what is the penalty?
  33. If your backbot is immobilized (dies), and the other alliance pushes it across the midline, what is the penalty?
  34. Can your alliance change your backbot for another robot during the middle of a period?
  35. Is it legal for a robot to use a clamp or suction cup to stay on the platform?
  36. Are catapults legal for shooting balls? Discuss why or why not.
  37. What is the penalty for damaging the field or field elements?
  38. Is it legal for a robot to extend any part into the corner goal? If so, what are the limitations, if any?
  39. Redbot1 pins Bluebot1 against the side wall. Is this legal? Are there any possible penalties, and what, if any, are they?
  40. Where must the human player stand when returning balls to play? If the human player violates this rule, what is the penalty?
  41. Can the human player throw balls directly into the goals? How many points are they worth?
  42. Where must the human player stand to enter balls onto the field during the Autonomous period?
  43. What is the penalty for the coach handling the controls in the driving station?
  44. How many alliances are there in the Finals?
  45. Who gets to be Finals Alliance captains?
  46. If Team 123 is selected for a Finals Alliance, can they then be selected by another Alliance Captain?
  47. In Finals Alliance selection, who picks first?
  48. After all Finals Alliances finish their first-round picks, who gets to pick first in the second round of selection?
  49. What does the acronym “FIRST” stand for?
  50. Who founded “FIRST”?

Hey Rick.

To pick our drivers our executives (6 of them) voted in the drive team. Personally the issue I have with this is I could care less if my drivers knew a lot of the rules, that is what I as a coach need to know. Our drivers drive, thats it. They are supposed to think as little as possible “big picture” and only think about following strategy. It DOES sound like a good test for Coach, atleast the rules question.

I’m not so sure.

Take last year’s game for example. If you gave a robot a love tap while they were in the loading zone, you could pretty much pack it up for the match. So what did I do when I coached? I made absolutely sure that my drivers knew to stay clear of robots in the loading zone.

Same thing goes for Human Player, which each year has some subtleties. Last year, since the task didn’t require much in the way of tremendous aim (well, unless you consider sticking a tetra on the end of a pole tremendous aim), so we had about fifteen different human players. And before each match, I’d go over their job–robot in the loading zone, keep a tetra in your hand after autonomous, don’t get whacked by other robots, both feet in the box, don’t touch the robot.

Drivers should listen to the coach, but sometimes even the coach might botch a call. Having the drivers know enough to survive does wonders for this.

As a previous driver I can say that Driving should be more of an instinct than a controlled action. Once you have the motions down for controlling the robot, then you really shouldn’t have to think about what you are doing. It should come as a natural reaction. Along with this comes the need to know the rules because this year only the drivers and HP are allowed to talk to the refs at the end of the match about penalties and warnings. It is always good to have someone on the drive team that knows the rules besides the coach.

My suggestions for picking a driver:

  1. Get a list of every one interested in the position
  2. Take last year’s bot (or an rc car of some kind) and set up an obstacle course with cones.
  3. Have everyone drive the course and keep a record of times.

For scoring, DO NOT ONLY LOOK AT THE TIME! Any person can get something done fast, but to do it right, that takes skill. Look for fluid motion of the robot, good control, wise decisions (such as on our course this year there was a section that you got through faster if you went backwards through it, only one person did this) and then factor in speed. With practice anyone can learn to drive a robot fast but the key ingredient is a person with good control.

Another factor that I would take into consideration is the person’s personality. If they are unreliable, then obviously no. A driver not only sells your robot by driving it, but they sell your team by representing it.

The drivers NEED to know the rules. If they are the ones talking with the referees, they need to be able to use the rules to support their main points.

We have a similar written test to the one posted above as well as a Driving Skills test.

Its very important for the drivers to know the rules. A lot of times, as the driver, you can’t hear the coach anyways.

As one of our mentors pointed to a student who said “I think knowing the controls is more important than knowing the rules”
“Knowing the rules is much more important, you can’t get lots of penalties by just sitting there not moving.”

The students think they have to pass the test. I just want them thinking deeply about these things, and really understanding the game. I could get a 90 on this test, and I’m not even a driver candidate. I would expect them to be as excited about getting a real knowledge of the game as I am.

I hope it is useful to someone… :]

I like that it makes your drivers think about the rules.

Drivers must know the rules inside and out. If they don’t then they could potentially cost your alliance a match. It is not so much the coach needing to know the rules (however the coach should know them), but the drivers should be able to think on their own. Once they are told to do something they should be able to think will this violate any rules (quickly decide if it will or not), if it does then they would go about doing what they were told to do so that it complies with the rules.

But more so the drivers should know the robot inside and out. There should be nothing on the robot that either the driver or the operate knows nothing about. This is because if something goes wrong on the playing field the driver or operator can quickly tell the pit crew what/where the problem is. This makes fixing the robot quicker and less choatic for the pit crew.

Absolutely. Great idea. This will be in the 2007 edition.

Seriously? Wow, I’m shocked at that response.
Our driveteam has to pass a game test similar to the one posted above, with a 90% in order to be a candidate.

Here’s a few reasons why the drivers/HP need to know the rules inside out:

  1. Avoid stupid, easily avoidable mistakes that can cause huge penalties. (2005 good example, as confusing as some rules were)
  2. How much time does a coach really have on the field to yell every rule into the kids head about what they can/can’t do? Not much.
  3. The student drivers/HP are the ones that can argue with the head ref. You can tell them all you want about what they should say, but if they don’t know the details, they cannot backup their argument with any knowledge or answer questions the ref asks.
  4. Knowing the rules helps initiate a “think on your own, think on your feet” mentality in the students, helps them mature, helps them make decisions on their own that may result in success or failure. Both are good for learning.
  5. Takes some burden off the coach. We try to yell as little as possible into our kids ears while their driving. Quick commands.
  6. Coach should watch the rest of the field, see what other teams are doing so you can counteract. The drivers drive, you are right about that. So that means they can’t be watching the rest of the field. The coach can’t really watch every move their own robot is making to make sure drivers are violating rules, plus watch 5 other robots? That’s a super-coach.
  7. I disagree that students need to think as little as possible about big picture. I think strategy is part of the big picture and the game rules are included with all of that.
  8. Sponsors, execs, joe-schmoe comes by to talk to your drive members (or any team member) and asks them about the game. Kid says “I don’t know” and can’t explain it, or dont’ really know what the rules are. They don’t look so great and sorta reflects poorly on the team.
  9. As said above, a coach can screw up a call. The students shouldnt’ be afraid to disagree and do their own thing - BUT they must have the knowledge to justify it.

As a suggestion that might just benefit in the long run, I suggest coaches care a little more if their drivers know the rules or not. It doesn’t take that long to read the game rules.
Just some things to think about.

I, as a past and current driver, agree that the drive team needs to know the rules. However I don’t see where making them know every little detail of every rule helps at all. As driver handling the robot with respect toward it and the other robots on the field is enough to avoid most plenty that one can get. Basics of game play is a must, but harping on how far away you can be before it counts as ramming is pointless. If it seems like it might not be allowed or could be harmful to the robots, just don’t do it! That’s the way I see it at least.

As a driver for my team both this year and last year, I agree that knowing the rules is a must. It simply isn’t practical for the coach to have to dictate to a driver every little move they must make to stay within the rules. If you are going to do that, you might as well just make your coach your driver. Also, if your drivers are uninformed it tends to reflect very poorly on your team. However, this point has been sufficiently covered already in this thread.

What I would like to bring up is: exactly how much does a driver need to know? I agree that the drivers should know all the rules in the “The Game” portion of the manual, because they are all directly relevant. And I agree that the more a driver knows about the robot, the better. However, does it actually help to know the exact dimensions of the field in feet? Do drivers need to know, exactly, the elevation of the center goal? Certainly a general idea is good to have, but I know when I’m on the field in the heat of competition I don’t think “hmm, I wonder exactly what velocity I need to shoot the ball at to get through the center goal from now. I know, I’ll do some force calculations including the mass of the ball and the height of the goal, factoring in air resistance, to find out.” No. I line up on the goal as best I can, and pull the trigger.

Certainly drivers should know how a poof ball handles, but unless you’re smarter than I am the way to do that is through using them over and over again until you get a feel for them, not memorizing the weight. If your goal is to get a feel for how well people looked through the rules, then that quiz is a great one. However, if you’re looking for the rules that will help a driver, some of these don’t seem too significant to me.

And again, I think the rules quiz is an excellent idea, our team does something very similar. I just want to bring up another viewpoint.

It seems that with many of your comments here you assume the coach is a mentor. As a student coach many do not apply to our drive team. Infact our “drive team” consists of 5 people. We have our drive team coach, our base driver, our opperator, our human player, and our human player coach.

As for many of the other posts:
Many of you have commented on how you must know the rules to drive effectively and avoid penalties. Drivers will preform the task at hand with FEWER things running through their heads. Someone mentioned that a little bump to a bot in the loading zone would incure a huge penalty, which is %100 true. But I see it as this, if my drive team listens to tho coach (who DOES know the rules backwards and forwards) they would never bump the bot in the loading zone because as an informed coach I would say “Now take the right isle down the field, make sure you do not hit the loading bot”. If I can keep my drivers’ minds on doing a task then they preform that task to a much better ability than if they second guess it.

This is not to say “coach’s word is god”. After every match the drive team watches a video replay half a dozen times and as a team scrutinizes every decision made to make sure we get it right next time.

By the end of the build the two drivers know the rules almost as well as their coach just because of 4 dozen hours of practice together, but that is not what makes our drive team effective.

One other thing to note: some one mentioned how the drivers must speak with referees. There is nothing against the coaches standing right behind the drivers helping the drivers along.

But if the drivers know that touching the loading bot is a penalty, the coach doesn’t have to tell them not to hit it. Instead the coach only has to say “Now take the right isle down the field”.
I don’t mean to turn this into a discussion about how to coach, but I don’t think the coach should be giving instructions that specific. Rather the coach should be saying things like “cap the far right”, or “defense on 173, don’t let them cap middle row”.

To me it all comes down to taking the load off of the driver’s head. They put %100 of their mental capacity into driving to the best of their ability rather than remembering some of the GDC’s insane idiosyncrasies.

We pick our coach based on how we think they can do all of the following things at once:
Watch 6 bots
Watch the clock
Remember every rule
Ability to manage a team

You may say this is not possible but then I suggest onto you to take a look back on your team. I am a believer that every team has someone who can do this, it just takes work.

That is great you are a student coach, but at the same time, as a student coach there is a lot of experience to be gained. My comments don’t all assume that a coach is a mentor - maybe you think that because I said “kids” a lot. I say that because it’s referring to drivers/ops/hps which are students. No matter whether you’re a student or mentor coach, all of those things that I mentioned can apply to every driveteam so I’m not sure how many don’t apply to your driveteam. None of us have the right answer for everything, but there are more experienced people trying to provide some helpful feedback.

As Ogre said, a coach’s commands will be shorter and more efficient without having to dictate “don’t hit that robot”. It would come second nature to them “not to do whatever”. If it takes 100% of their capacity to drive the robot, I am not sure that’s great either. The entire driveteam should be able to think while doing their job. I also don’t think the game rules are insane idiosyncracies that seem to be such a bother to remember. We are talking about game rules and penalties, not fix-it window rules. Nobody said anyone has to memorize the manual front to back, all sections.

Have you thought about the confusion and brain processing that has to take place when more words are yelled into a driver’s ear? I think that is a lot worse than having them know things second nature. They don’t really have to mentally compute what they already know.

I suppose I have contributed to this going a little further off topic, I just feel strongly about driveteams needing to know the game rules/penalties well. It can also be used as a guage to help determine who really wants the coveted positions. Some people are lazy and don’t want to read the rules - they must not really want that job… that’s is how I personally would see it. They aren’t dedicated to knowing the game they are playing. If they aren’t required to know the rules, that’s a different story and each team has their own way.

Someone else asked how much should the drivers know. I agree that they don’t really need to know dimensions or field specs. Our game test consists of basically game rules that pertain to the driveteam, what they need to know to stay out of trouble, they know what actions cause what point penalties, etc. They know what they can/can’t do. And while the test doesn’t ask them deep specifics about robot rules, they do know basics, but they also are part of the mechanical/elec teams so inherently know much more.

ps. as far as coaches standing behind their driveteam to help them argue a case - I am not sure you should count on that, as the head ref may not like that. If you are there, you have the temptation to speak, and I can bet that a head ref really won’t want to wait around while a third party dictates in the driver’s ear what they need to say. Head ref may not even allow the coach in the area while a discussion is taking place, who knows.

I’ll add one last thing (from me). I know some of those questions are picky, and one of them is a trick question. I want the drive team to obsess over those things BEFORE they get to the tournament. Right now, their heads are empty, they have plenty of time to study, and no one is standing behind them yelling.

There’s also some self-confidence to be gained from knowledge. I want them overprepared now so that they are steady, confident, and calm (as much as possible) when the matches start. Besides, I had to ask the last question to get to an even 50.

So, this is where I stand:

It does not hurt for the drivers to know the rules. Infact I would encourage it. It does hurt their driving preformance if they are trying to run through the rules in their head rather than just listening to the coach. I think there are other much more important things to test in a driver, such as their ability to preform under pressure.