Hot Take: Auto 2020

With bag day being removed I think there are gonna be so many better teams in terms of both driving and programming a deadly auto, with more time coming up First is going to make auto much harder than usual.

A moment of silence for the easy 2018 switch auto RP.

I also think we will see a new level of complexity with robots, where a team will build a robot in 6 weeks, compete week 1, and rebuild by week 6.


I have to disagree with the auto prediction.

There are a lot of reasons why teams have varying levels or no effective auto routines.
Bag and tag is just one of them.

I predict the level of difficulty will be the same as it’s always been. Hard.


Well it’ll be the same level of difficulty. But slot of teams will do much better with the extra time to tune the auto. I am of course talking about teams that otherwise wouldn’t build two robots and test code. Because lots of team I see a complain that mechanical team just eats up time building and barely any time is left for code.

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There is always generally a “drive forward for X points” aspect of auto each year. And each year TONS of team fail to even do that. Removing the bag isn’t going to stop that, so i don’t see auto’s getting more complex. Creating a good consistent auto is HARD already. adding more aspects to the tasks required isn’t necessary. Autos will stay the same going forward.

In 2019, where you didn’t even need to program an autonomous routine, just under 10% of teams in qualification matches failed to drive off the Hab in Sandstorm. Over 2,400 times, a team failed to even get off of the Hab at all.


I wonder how many of those are actually no shows.

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When we scrape stuff off of TBA’s API, there’s occasionally a “None” in the starting Hab field when a team no-shows. I’m assuming (with all the dangers that come with that) that they’re excluding the Nones.

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At least a decent number of those have to be teams that had communications isuses of some sort (including radio or roboRio reboots) during the sandstorm period. I saw plenty of those, particularly from teams coming down from HAB2.

I don’t think FIRST will make auto harder but I do think we’ll see better autos from teams. There are so many single robot teams out there whose programmers get minimal to no hands on experience with the robot at all before bag. I think we will see a lot of mid tier teams adding autos for their 2nd event of the season.

I’d hope to see something like super hard rewarding autos and easier less rewarding autos to allow for good overall comps and really good robots


Auto bonuses have been slowly getting harder over the years as more teams have become auto-capable. Given how many teams who are capable of an auto routine beyond “drive forward” were already building a second robot, I don’t expect that there will be a quantum bump in either team capability or auto task difficulty.

Line 2018?

  • Three robots drive and one puts a cube in the correct side of the switch => RP.
  • multi cube scale auto (plus otherwise awesome robot) => undefeated season.

You’re not wrong. I pulled out my data from Smoky Mountains, which scraped the API for Hab Line crossing (and is thus most immune to blown scouting). The worst team at the regional for that event made it across in Sandstorm 60% of the time, so it’s not like the capability wasn’t there.

Good autos (beyond “drive forward”) require more than just an unbagged robot. You also need some reasonable facsimile of the field and elements built. Some teams, like ours, get by with the minimum bits of plywood field elements and then we tape out areas on the floor of our workspace or the local library. Other teams have full size practice fields with the full scale elements. Your ability to accurately replicate the relevant areas of the field is what determines your ability to develop a solid autonomous routine. That won’t change with the bag going away.

There also won’t be any significant perceived change for those teams who already build a practice robot or use something other than their competition robot to develop autos.

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Unfortunately, I think a lot of teams are going to see the removal of the bag day requirement as an excuse to not complete their robot in 45 days. They will complete their mechanical build a couple of days before their first event and show up with little or no auto code development.

Now, between a team’s first event and the second you might see some significant improvements in auto routines. So, I would expect that by the end of the year, you might see some significantly better quality and quantity (options) of auto routines. But at least some of those teams are going to chose to spend the time between competitions re-building their robots and once again not give the programmers any real time to work on well tuned autos. So…

After all the basic tools, the highest impact tool for a team to acquire is a useful practice space. It doesn’t have to be a full field, but at least a large carpetted area with some degree of accurate field elments is absolutely critical to improving autonomous development and driver practice.

A gigantic shout-out and thank you to Paul Downs Custom Conference Tables, who are 1712’s sponsors that aid us with the fabrication of our practice field elements.


Or teams that lose their bumpers before exiting the hab :yikes:

Any move to increase the barrier of entry to auto points will be an unexpected one indeed.

Autos will most likely continue with the trend of varying levels of difficulty. A team should be reward appropriately for how complex and reliable their auto is with an equivalent amount of points.

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