[FRC Blog] FIRST Championship Potpourri

Posted on the FRC Blog, 2/16/2022: https://www.firstinspires.org/robotics/frc/blog/2022-first-championship-potpourri

FIRST® Championship Potpourri

2022 FEB 16 | Written by Collin Fultz, FRC Senior Program Manager + Fiona Hanlon, FRC Team Experience Specialist + Kevin O’Connor, FRC Senior Robotics Engineer

We’re just a few short weeks from our Week 1 events, and with that, we wanted to share more information about FIRST® Championship.

You Bring It

In 2020, we shared that teams could bring their own robot to the 2020 FIRST Championship. For the 2022 FIRST Championship, we are glad to share that this is allowed once again. Here’s how the program works:

Once you qualify for FIRST Championship, you are sent an email asking you if you want to bring your robot to the event yourself or ship it via FedEx. You must select one or the other, as there will be no ‘default’ option.

  • If you opt to hand carry your robot yourself, you must bring your one competition robot to FIRST Championship along with all your other pit equipment.
  • If you opt to ship your robot, we provide a FedEx shipping voucher and a ship-not-later than date. Teams must ship no later than that date or risk their robots not arriving at FIRST Championship in time for the event.
    • We are working with week 7 District Championship events to ensure that a truck will be available to help transport team items.
  • Teams who chose to ship their robot must follow the 2022 Shipping Crate Instructions.
  • Teams may not use a FedEx shipping voucher for pit equipment/other non-robot items. Using a voucher in this way is considered an abuse of the donor’s intent and generosity. If you are shipping using the FedEx voucher, only your robot, bumpers, and batteries may be in the crate. If you’d like to ship additional equipment, you must coordinate, ship, and pay for it on your own.

A big thanks to FedEx for once again sponsoring robot shipments to FIRST Championship!

We recognize that teams shipping their robot are at a disadvantage as they cannot work on their robot after it ships. To help level the playing field, teams that ship their robot receive early access to the pits on Wednesday and a Wednesday priority pass at FIRST Championship that provides the following:

  • exclusive access to the ‘playground’ (non-official/wooden) practice fields before they officially open
  • access to a priority lane for the full official practice fields, which will be drawn from before any teams in the non-priority lane are allowed on the field

Schedule

We wanted to share a high-level overview of the schedule, so teams have the information for planning purposes. This year, the award ceremonies are hosted on Friday night, and Alliance selection remains scheduled for Saturday morning. As a reminder, there are no longer subdivisions, so every field presents a full set of awards (excluding Chairman’s Award) at the division level. Additionally, Einstein Finals are hosted in the George R. Brown Convention Center (i.e. no move to Minute Maid Field as in recent FIRST Championship events). The final schedule will be posted on the FIRST Championship website closer to the event.

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

  • 8-10am, Early access load-in for teams that shipped their robots (up to 6 team representatives each)
  • 10am-2pm, Open load-In for any team (up to 6 team representatives each)
  • 2-7:30pm, Pits Open

Thursday, April 21, 2022

  • 7am-6:30pm, Event hours

Friday, April 22, 2022

  • 7am-6:00pm, Event hours

Saturday, April 23, 2022

  • 6:45am-5:30pm, Event hours

Priority Waitlist Process

As described in the FIRST Championship Qualification Blog, this season a Priority Waitlist is used to fill open spots at the FIRST Championship. To help establish the process, we analyzed how the Priority Waitlist process may differ from our traditional waitlist process and carefully considered how that may affect teams. For those not interested in the nitty gritty, the high-level takeaway is that teams are most likely selected off the Priority Waitlist in the selection round following the event at which they qualified for the list, but they do maintain some chance (possibly a substantial one depending on the distribution of FIRST Championship declines across the season) in future weeks.

For nitty gritty, read on!

We identified three primary differences between the Priority Waitlist and the traditional Waitlist. The first is that with the list being merit based, we wanted to reconsider whether the typical weighting related to the number of years since a team has attended a FIRST Championship was appropriate, and decided not to apply weighting based on when a team last attended a FIRST Championship. The second difference is that teams earned a Priority Waitlist slot through a variety of different awards which could be prioritized differently. Ultimately, we chose not to apply weighting or prioritization to how a team qualified for the Priority Waitlist. The final difference is that, unlike the traditional Waitlist where all teams are on the list when drawings begin, teams are added to the Priority Waitlist throughout the season. This leads to a substantial imbalance in the odds of getting drawn for a team that qualifies in Week 1 versus a team that qualifies in Week 6. The system mitigates this problem to the extent feasible.

The process used for selecting teams from the Priority Waitlist each week is as follows:

  1. Identify the pool of teams on the Priority Waitlist and split into the following two groups:
    a. teams that qualified since the last time slots were awarded (new teams)
    b. teams on the list the last time slots were awarded (existing teams)
    If a team qualifies for the Priority Waitlist a second time, they are a member of both groups.

  2. Determine the number of slots to be awarded based on FIRST Championship declines, position in the season, and any other factors

  3. Using the information from 2 and all information from prior runs of the process (# of teams qualifying each week, slots that week, declines, etc.), weight the odds of new teams such that the odds of a new team being drawn off the list this week matches the sum of odds an existing team has of being drawn off the list for all weeks in which they have been on it (i.e. after running this process for a given week, all teams should have the same chance of having been pulled from the list up to that point to the extent possible). Weighting is accomplished by increasing the number of times a team’s number is “in the hat”. Depending on which week and the distribution of awarded slots up to that point, new teams may have their name in the hat anywhere from 1 to 1000 times while existing teams will only have 1.

  4. Using software, draw team numbers “from the hat” until the desired number of teams, per step 2, have been drawn and send out invitations to FIRST Championship. If a team declines the invitation, they are removed from the pool for future weeks unless they qualify for the list again at another event.

If the Priority Waitlist is exhausted before the desired number of teams are invited, an evaluation will occur to determine whether to proceed to the list of traditional waitlist teams, or hold the spot(s) for future weeks. This decision is based on several factors including the number of spots to fill, how late it is in the season, overall decline rates of qualifying and Priority Waitlist teams to that point, etc. If the decision is made to proceed to the list of traditional waitlist teams, that pool will be randomized utilizing the traditional weighting of years since a team has attended FIRST Championship.

While this process makes a best attempt to balance the odds of teams being selected from the Priority Waitlist in later weeks, it may not fully reach parity depending on the distribution of available slots throughout the season. While part of the decision making in step 2 above will consider holding slots to award later in the season to better balance teams’ chances, logistics concerns and a desire to have a full FIRST Championship may prevent us from holding enough spots until after Week 6 to fully equalize the odds for teams qualifying in later weeks.

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Interestingly stricter this year, despite the overall crate weight still being ~400lb. To compare, the verbiage used for the 2020 season only specified you cannot use it for just pit/non-robot items:

Teams will not be allowed to use a FedEx shipping voucher exclusively for pit equipment/other non-robot items. Using a voucher in this way is considered an abuse of the system.

Three totes of snacks later…

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