[FRC Blog] New Award! Autonomous Award sponsored by Ford

Posted on the FRC Blog, 2/21/18: https://www.firstinspires.org/robotics/frc/blog/2018-autonomous-award-ford

New Award! Autonomous Award sponsored by Ford

Written by Frank Merrick, 2018 FEB 21.


We’re very excited to announce a new Championship-only award sponsored by our friends at Ford!

Here are the details:

Autonomous Award sponsored by Ford


Celebrates the team that has demonstrated consistent, reliable high performance during match autonomous periods. Evaluation is based on the robot’s ability to sense its surroundings, position itself within the field, and plan and execute tasks.


  • The award is based on autonomous period performance during matches
  • Consistent and reliable performance is weighted more heavily than the ability to score maximum points during the autonomous period
  • A team spokesperson must be able to explain:
  • How the robot understands its surroundings, navigates on the field and then executes tasks.
  • The factors the teams considered that could interfere with success during autonomous mode and what the team did to manage them.
  • The design, development, and testing that was done for the robot’s autonomous mode.


Self-Driving cars are as important to Ford’s future as the autonomous period during matches is important to *FIRST *Robotics Competition teams, so this is a great fit.

This award will be presented at the Division level at both *FIRST *Championship locations, so six teams total will be receiving this award this season. This award may continue or even expand to more events in the 2019 season.

Thanks, Ford, for your sponsorship!


I for one welcome our new autonomous overlords.

Wait, six teams total? Not 12? I thought it was every division?

There are 6 Divisions, 12 Fields (Subdivisions). 2 Fields (Subdivisions) make up 1 Division.



Incredibly excited to see what kind of technology comes out of teams gunning for this award, not only as a means of releasing utilities to help raise the skill floor, but also to just ‘wow’ at what teams can do.

It’s a start, I suppose. Maybe one year a legitimate programming award will come into fruition at a regional/district level.

Meh. Okay.

Is Innovation in Control not a ‘legitimate programming award’? Sure, there’s a broad range of things evaluated for that award (“control components – electrical, mechanical or software”](https://www.firstinspires.org/resource-library/frc/awards-based-on-creativity-innovation)), but the same can be said for this award. A robust autonomous solution will require a well integrated system, which software is a part of.

Don’t get me wrong, I think the new award is a great idea, and between both awards teams can be recognized for neat control system features in both autonomous and teleop.

Innovation in Control can be won by a clever mechanical design. There is no “pure software” award, unlike the many other awards that seem to be mechanical only. I have seen fantastic software solutions win IoC, and I have seen fantastic software solutions go unappreciated and unnoticed. I try to talk to most IoC winning teams after the awards ceremony, and rather often, they win it by a mechanical feature.

There are smart people out there. People porting WPILib to Python, C#, Rust. People building incredible motion profiling and pathing solutions. People building amazing computer vision libraries and products. And they’re competing for one single distinction that can be won by having a cool intake.

I am happy the Autonomous Award is here. It’s a great step in the right direction. I’m just hoping that is expanded upon in the future.

Almost four years ago, I wrote this post. I still (mostly) stand by what I said. I’m hopeful that this, along with the autonomous focus this year’s game has, could be a major step forward. But it will need to be sustained.

I would feel that its a reasonable expectation that this means that the award will be integrated at a broad level in the next few years.

I’m excited to see who besides 254, 971, and 900 will win this award!

(only slightly joking)

How does one demonstrate that the robot can sense its surroundings on the field, and that sensing the surroundings is even valuable, if there is no autonomous defense that gets in the way?

There can plenty of defense that gets in the way in the form of alliance members.

In 2016 we had an alliance member autonomously cross a defense, clip a divider which turned them around, and then drive back towards the center of the field and right into us as we came over the rock wall, causing us to flip.

Now all FIRST has to do is expand autonomous to make me happy :stuck_out_tongue:

The fun part will be when they’re all in the same division at Houston with 1678. I predict heads will explode and the decision on who gets that award will be settled “outside” --Fantailler rules apply. (Or Queensberry, if you don’t like Fantailler… too late for that caveat, though.)

Detecting the height of the scale may become valuable for higher end autonomous modes when it comes to shaving seconds off of individual scoring attempts.

Guess that means our purely encoder/gyro 12 cube auto won’t be winning the award if it doesn’t sense its surroundings

I’m going to hijack this thread temporarily and once again post my regular request for the FRC field border to be made more opaque in some way so that the issues with polycarbonate and IR light can be worked around.

That’s all. Thanks.

If you do 12 cubes in auton of a official match I’ll eat my hat.