Greedy autos

Our team spends months building a swerve drive with under-bumper intake, tilting shooter, dual Limelights, auto-assisted intake and targeting, and despite having access to only 1/4 field of space in the shop, builds six autonomous paths that use vision targeting and pose estimation, each of which can get three notes (the pre-loaded, the gimme, and one midfield) in each of six starting positions.

We have won three autonomous awards since our founding in 2016. Not a top-tier team, but we work hard on auto.

We get to a competition and are immediately asked multiple times to disable our auto so that a team can run their 6-note auto that steals all of their alliance partner’s gimme notes.

In practice matches.


Have you tried telling them “no”?


It happened again during qualifying matches. Our team has not lost a game this event so far, and has not missed a note in auto.

Our drive team is all students, and was asked to disable auto and give up all of the close notes by another team. This request came from an adult mentor drive coach from that team. Add my voice to the ones complaining about that FIRST culture issue.

Our drive coach did, in fact, say no.

So now what? Does our team get a reputation for being uncooperative? They should not have been put in that position in the first place.

I’ve been complaining to my team all season about all of the 5/6/7-note auto videos teams post on YouTube where they take all the close notes, because I knew this was going to happen. our robot is fast enough: We could have coded up and posted a 5-note auto video, but we didn’t, because we know that there are three robots on an alliance. Not one star robot and two speed bumps.

I am an adult mentor for our team specializing in code. I celebrate innovation, technical expertise, acquiring new knowledge, experimenting with ideas, and generally seeing what’s possible with the technology and the team we have. That part can be really inspiring. But sometimes the competition part makes me a little nuts.


This is the part where your scouting data can be helpful in showing you guys have not missed these notes.

It could help open up another discussion to what paths another robot could take.


Idk chief, I’ve been in plenty of matches that look like the latter, or some variation of it (For reference, I was one of the speed bumps).

There’s a degree to which being flexible in auto is necessary. It’s statistically unlikely that every match is going to be with teams that have 6 note autos. Sometimes you get lots of opportunities to run your own auto, sometimes you only get a couple. Videos and data are your friend during strategy discussions. I, an adult drive coach, have been swayed by student coaches who showed a video of an auto I didn’t trust to work. They hadn’t had a chance to try it in a match but they had ran it in a practice match previously. If someone is pushing for their auto and you have data saying their auto isn’t that accurate, you have bargaining power.


I think the point is that it’s a bad dynamic that students from other teams are in a position where they feel they have to sway you.


Everyone needs to sway me, especially when making claims like “we can do a 5 game piece auto” when our data shows them doing a 2 piece at best.


Why isn’t it you who needs to sway them?

No one should enter a match this year under the assumption that all of the autonomous period notes are theirs to use pending convincing argument from other parties. That’s not how this works.


You are not alone. At our first comp we whipped up a front of speaker, backup, shoot note. Very simple.
We were always willing (and sometimes offered) to move to the side to get in other teams way when they have a higher scoring auto. It just sucked when they ran their auto and missed. every. single. note.


We’ve had a hard time with this kind of thing this year - as a longtime backfielder, the hill to climb to prove that we deserve a chance at scoring notes was a lot higher than we expected, even though we thought we nailed our first few qual matches. Next year we’re definitely going to have to be more assertive with what we know we can do.


It goes both ways. Claims should be proven. We have data and video to back up our claims, and with our 2 note auto, there isn’t a whole lot to prove.


I agree that it should; but I think your post was framed unilaterally in a way that demonstrates how in practice it often does not.


If another team is bullying your drive team or being uncooperative with you, you are free to blacklist them on your pick list for that event. When 95 has had all student drive teams I have gone and talked to problematic teams after matches, providing that feedback to their mentors directly. This effects change immediately in my experience.

Some teams only get to test their autos in matches, I try to be accommodating to those situations and sometimes take a competitive hit to let the other team(s) experiment.

If you’re really going for the win you need data to make your point(s). It is hard to argue with numbers.


I saw the writing was on the wall early this year. I knew teams were going to tunnel vision writing autons which grab all the close notes and then not have alternatives.
I made sure the students on my team developed autons like the one you described, but also we’ve been putting most of our time into auton which goes around the close notes and attempts to get 2 from the center.

This way you can synergize with the triple close-note teams, and especially be competitive in playoffs, wasting no time going for the hotly contested central notes.

I do think the culture around coordinating autons this year is screwed up.
This may be a hot take, but I’m of the opinion that in qualification matches, especially early, and especially at district events (and especially those with a pitiful practice field), the team with the “less field-tested” auton should be given the opportunity to run, even if it might mean scoring fewer notes for the alliance on average.


Yikes. In practice matches, I’m down to let anyone try things they are working on. Especially complex paths that are hard to reliably test in labs.

As for quals, I agree carrying auto videos around is annoying but I’ve also had claims of spectacular autos that are too good to be true. The video just provides proof even if you feel you shouldn’t have to.

In general, it sounds like rough team dynamic. One thing I have seen with an all student drive team is an adult “silent observer.” It seems ridiculous to have an adult around whose sole job is to ensure their students are respected but I have seen it work well with “bossier” drive coaches.

TLDR; you can’t force someone to believe you or to respect students no matter how silly that seems. But you can prepare yourself for the worst.


Not sure how an alliance collectively comes to that decision in qualification matches, especially in a game where each note scored is 5 points!!! That can be a huge difference between a win and a loss, not to mention less notes needed to be scored in teleop to reach the RP threshold.

Asking two other teams to potentially risk winning a match and earning the bonus RP (3RP at risk) so that someone can test an unproven autonomous doesn’t make much sense.


I feel like this carries a lot of weight for this statement. The regional model is ruthless when it comes letting someone try something. When you only have 10 matches, every second counts.


This is why we need good simulation tooling and vendor support. Its not a total replacement but it’s better than only being able to test on the field.

Course, I also think part of game design needs to add “can teams reliably test their solutions in their build spaces” (which many times means in a classroom)


Like I said, I knew it would be controversial.
I would never expect to convince a highly competitive team to go along with this.
The reality is that they have the resources to have a full practice field at home and they’ll be more confident in their auto.

So they get to run their auto, miss the notes because the field apriltags are off, and then adjust for their next match.
Meanwhile the team with the auton that sticks to its lane is expected to A-stop and never gets the chance.

The A-stop is honestly a big part of it. It’s a great edition but it’s a double edged sword. Now teams have no excuse and can’t say “we don’t have a way to switch it off.”

I can’t help but remember 2014 when you weren’t allowed to score in teleop until every pre staged ball was scored. There was definitely some conflict with teams asking partners to not preload their auton because it might miss.

As a chronic non-captain team, qualification matches are where we practice for playoffs and show off what we can do. It’s a different mentality.


I cannot recommend WPILib simulation enough to teams. It’s been a godsend for us this year.

And as you mention, vendor support is key. For me it’s what puts CTRE above rev at the moment.