How FTC & FRC Coexist (And how can we make it better?)

@alecmiller made a great point here about how FTC is open seen as “less than” FRC in a lot of places. This hurts both programs, for example, teams disregarding FTC and choosing FRC because it’s “cooler” and then getting smacked by the significantly higher budget it requires.

How can we make sure that students and teams get the best robotics experience that they can; and what would have to happen (in general) to reduce this perception of one program being the better and the other being the lesser?

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Phase 1: HQ tells MI that high schoolers can do FTC instead of FRC.

Phase 2, already in progress: have required parts that don’t release smoke if you look at them.

Phase 3: take the time to give it some flash and pizzazz. Seriously, a bit of polishing could go quite a ways. They’ve improved since 2017…but there’s still a ways to go.

Phase 4: Minibots V2.0. Play part of the FRC game so that local FTC teams play it instead of FRC teams. FTC tournament right with FRC, could be pretty darn cool!

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it’s already been stated that when FTC and FRC are together, the FTC kids feel like they are second fiddle. have the two at the save event doesn’t work. That goes for Worlds as well. The finals for both should not be in the save arena.

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Make FRC robots smaller and FTC robots bigger and then work on establishing leagues for the combined program based on criteria.

What do I know though? Not like they asked me if I wanted Frank’s job.

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You recall Half-Pipe Hustle? If you do, then you weren’t in Michigan.

small and larger in what sense? FTC seems fine robot wise. maybe a larger field?

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Larger field. Larger robots too. It improves the “spectacle” that the FRC crowd seems to crave.

I’m not king of the world though. What I do know is that this problem is being avoided, like others. The faithful don’t care all that much and the programs on the whole are largely made up of those who don’t know and don’t care. It’s going to be ok - it’s not a real problem that is desired to be addressed yet.

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Move towards shared control system resources so that open-source development can more-easily benefit both programs at once.

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It arguably kind of is headed that way… it’s definitely not there yet but it’s possible to run bits of the wpilib stack on an FTC controller and it’s definitely possible to run our stuff on it. That doesn’t mean it’s seamless at all, the way it needs to be, but it’s closer than I think most people might realize.

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Oh for sure; there are also large amounts of the WPILib command-based framework that have been ported by community effort. But I’d like to see HQ actively push it, rather than the community pull it.

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My guess is a wpilib steering committee made up of some combination of industry folks and stakeholders (read: some developers but more users) is needed to actively push this and it won’t come from HQ, short of them hiring a CTO that is actively tasked with this as a tactical problem to solve - it’s definitely not strategic for them.

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I refer to MI’s stated policy that FRC is HS, FTC is MS, FLL is elementary.

Want FTC to be taken seriously? Policies like that disappear. Instead use different levels within FTC.

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if we can run the stack on a ROMI, why are we there yet?

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So the CAN based stuff doesn’t run on the romi yet and nearest as I know, there is no plan to support SocketCAN and what little I have heard, leads me to think the current romi is a bit of a dead end in favor of other things - though I have no idea how much of that is real or just rumors.

Given that the romi was very much a skunkworks project and only really supported by HQ after a global pandemic… who knows?

Then we need to talk about the other side of this, which is the FTC controller and it’s reliance on Android, which I’m sorry to the Google fan folks but Android ain’t Linux and that’s to say nothing of the other weird issues that need to be addressed to talk to serial, GPIO, PWM, and whatever else.

That being said, I’ve run Debian on the FTC controller with some help, and I’ve run ROS Noetic on top of it and I’ve had SocketCAN working on it via a USB adapter. It’s all there.

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don’t even mention the price of R-Pi’s right now.

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That’s assuming you can even get your hands on one…

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Not an issue exclusive to Pis though. Both FTC and FRC are dealing with control system shortages this year.

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Oh absolutely. I was simply making a tongue-in-cheek remark in response to the previous comment about the price. Price is a non-issue if you can’t even find them.

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It should be noted that wpilib code does not actually run on the Romi- it runs on the development computer and communicates over a websocket layer.

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I think that a significant and important part towards FTC and FRC better coexisting is resolving some of the extremely questionable rules that FTC has regarding vendor kits and “solutions to game problems.” These rules are currently extremely arbitrary and have created extreme confusion amongst both the community and vendors as to what is and is not allowed. Ideally they adopt language similar to FRC’s with regards to major mechanisms and kits, though they may draw the line differently. It should not be a subject of increasingly numerous and convoluted Q&A questions to determine whether something is allowed.

The perception that there are vendors who are allowed to basically ship whatever they want to teams, and other vendors that receive hostile treatment from FIRST and the FTC GDC in terms of communication and rules is extremely destructive to the community, and the situation will only grow more rancid over time until this is addressed.

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