Even Playing Field?

So this game was created with the intent of creating an even playing field. Basically, take away the veteran teams advantage of their dominate drive trains so everyone starts from square one, right?

Well has anyone given thought to the fact that drive practice is really going to be the key this year. The floor isn’t going to be cheep and without it its almost impossible to test and simulate driving. Many of our well established teams have the finances and resources to build a full size field for drive testing and probably are already are doing so. That gives them a huge advantage, over the rookie teams who at best are going to end up with a 8 foot by 8 foot square of this stuff.

Our team is in its eight year and were going to pull our resources to get as close to a full field as possible because its that important. We have the ability to do so i think (just barely) but i imagine most teams don’t. So does this game really balanced the playing field, personally I think it widens the gap?

I originally shared your concerns about the cost of replicating the playing field in order for drivers to get meaningful practice time, however that has since been another post on CD suggesting that the wheels behave on linoleum tile in a very similar manner to how they behave on the playing field surface. If that is the case then low-resource teams will likely have an easier time duplicating playing field conditions as, in my experience, vast expanses of linoleum are more common than vast expanses of carpet.

The game also takes away the need to purchase/build two speed gearboxes, mecanum and/or omni wheels, etc. So I think the game might actually level the playing fields somewhat from a financial perspective… which is nice given current economic conditions.

But the gap between the good teams and the great teams has never been simply one of finances. Sure, money helps… but it is the people that really make things happen.


I think this game has evened out the playing field a lot. It’s taken away the thing that most veteran teams had, an established drive system. Also it’s forcing us to rethink our who way of designing robots. We’ve always looked for ways of getting less traction on carpet for better turning and things like that but now we’ve got to figure out how to play this game with as much traction as possible.

Also there’s the new control system. Now programmers and electrical teams have to familiarize themselves with a new system of getting their robots to run.

From preliminary discussions and bits and pieces of research it seems like driving on the field this year would be similar to driving the robot on a tiled floor or maybe even a smoothed concrete floor. So driving practice won’t be too bad if you’ve got a floor that can get scratched.

Some definitely unscientific testing showed that the friction of the new wheels on terazzo (a stone-like material used in many school floors) appears similar to that expected on the new surface. So, it is possible that your school has a wide expanse of a suitable practice surface already…

I don’t think it levels the playing field at all.

Maybe it simplifies drivetrains. That’s certainly the case. It seems to me that teams who make traditionally strong drivetrains will continue to make better, faster, more reliable, more controllable robots than those who struggle to make a robot that can drive.

If anything it widens the gap. Now those of us who have the resources to replicate a full field and make practice robots have a MASSIVE advantage over everyone else. This game is going to be all about driver control and programming to give the driver more control, which you can’t do if you can’t practice.

Ultimately it comes down to what Jason said. The reason great teams are great is because of their people, not because of how much money or how many CNC machines they have. This game doesn’t remove the people from the equation; so the great teams simply adapt and make more great robots, while the teams who struggle will do so even more mightily since their robots will be nearly impossible to control.

Actually, it radically shifts even that because your placing the emphasis more on electronics,control theory, and programing that has ever been done before. In some instances PI controllers will not behave the same way as done before because you definitely don’t want your robot going from 0-fast instantly.


Cheer up a bit! - Luckily for many of us, “almost impossible” isn’t the same as “impossible”. :slight_smile:

Take a look here: Link to recent 5th Gear discussion
and here: 5th Gear discussion with links to other FRC simulation threads

The 5th Gear simulation won’t be perfect, but it won’t be 100% wrong either.


I find it amazing that people assume that these dominant teams that have been ruling the landscape of FIRST are afraid of a little adversity. So they have to redesign their drives system. You think they can’t? They’ll probably come up with something no one else even bothered to consider. It’s what they do.
Thinking outside of the box is their mantra so unless you start cloning their braintrust and passing them out in the kit of parts to the other teams the field hasn’t been leveled at all. They’re still going to dominate.

We did that testing today on our school flooring. We got about .095 static coefficient and about .085 dynamic. Not exactly .05 and .06 but probably close enough.

I’m sorry, but I really disagree with this. This game really evens the playing field. Between the new surface, which will make it that the vet’s drive systems won’t work, and the new control system, which means that everybody will start from the same point with programming, the vet’s will start at the same point as the rookies.

While it’s true that the veterans usually have more money, sponsorships, members, and experience, I think it’s crazy to say that they’ll be able to have more innovation than the rookies. Anybody can come up with a great idea; money and experience has nothing to do with a truly great idea. If anything, the rookies have an advantage in the innovation sector because they don’t really know how things are traditionally done, so they have more ability to think of new things.

Just look at the world of business. Who generally comes up with the industry-changing innovations? Small start-ups. It’s rare that you hear about big companies changing the game. Usually a start-up comes up with a great idea, and then a big company buys them.

Everyone is always thinking of vets and rooks. Black and White. There is actually shades of gray. Our teams is in it’s second year. After one year of learning everything, we have to do it again.
I think that this year is not any different. Rookies are gonna do okay with some stand outs (look at team 2337 and us. We won at West Michigan last year.) I think that the rookies are gonna suffer less this year. They have no previous knowledge/experience so they aren’t worried about the same problems. As far as vets creating new idea, that is a lie. Some vets are probally trying to figure out how to use their old systems and program in C.