Now that we’re finally through a full season with no bag, I’m curious how this impacted the amount of practice robots that were built. Obviously acknowledging that CD is not a random nor representative sample of the FIRST community, let’s do a little survey.
Did You Build a Practice Robot
No, we never build a practice robot
No, we used to build one, but didn’t with no bag
Yes, we still built a practice robot
How many robots did you build this season (including practice, defense, and prototype robots)
Maybe this survey will tell us something useful, or maybe not. But I’m just curious if eliminating the bag cut down on the amount of practice robots, or if teams still continued doing so to reduce wear and tear on their competition robot, or for other reasons like keeping students engaged, etc.
Also, it may seem ridiculous to have options for up to 6 robots, but some teams are doing wild things out there!
The biggest thing that no-bag enabled us to do was focus less on our practice bot matching our competition robot exactly. We ended up building a proto-bot instead of a practice bot that we could take shortcuts on and iterate a lot quicker. Ended up getting it done by week 3 of the build season and it enabled us to learn a ton about our design concepts while also getting a bunch of driver practice!
The “proto-bot” is how 449 has operated for years; the relaxing of the bag rules has just allowed that strategy to become more effective due to easier interchange between the test chassis and the actual robot.
We had two robots. One was our competition bot, the other was just a chassis we used for working on our autonomous code.
We removed the electronics from the chassis bot about halfway through the season once we had path following done.
We had at least three kitbots that were used for prototyping different mechanisms, plus our prototype and competition robots. This was about two kitbots too many, as we could have integrated subsystems earlier if they were all mounted on the same platform.
EDIT: I forgot that we also built the EveryBot, which brings us to 6.
We’re a little bit of an outlier in that we’re usually more at 1.5 bots (I don’t know that we ever have had a practice and comp bot both functional), but this year we built 4 robots.
1 freshman everybot
1 sophomore (mostly) everybot
1 bot we took to our first three competitions
1 bot we took to Champs.
The desire had been to be practice bot and comp bot but “comp bot” didn’t really get assembled until worlds. I was quite anxious about taking an untested robot to worlds, but we did finally get a good amount of hours on it the weekend prior. Our first bot was falling apart, so I’m thinking we’ll continue to build two robots, or at least attempt to. Having one robot for programing and one drive practice was really nice that last weekend.
We’ve always built a practice robot, but with the transition out of bag and tag, the practice bot wasn’t a complete replica of the competition robot like it previously was. I don’t think this was a conscious choice, I think it was the result of a machining error, and realizing that we didn’t need to replicate everything this year once the competition robot was finished. At first it was used to test basic functions and for both mechanical and software tuning. It was also used for early drive practice until the competition robot was fully finished. It really was very useful as a mechanical testing ground. It let us make mistakes and then correct for them when building our competition robot, which wasn’t really what we had done before. It was also the proving ground for our shooter modification when we transitioned to a double flywheel shooter between competitions. There’s a consensus that the practice robot was well utilized this year, and will serve a similar purpose going forward.
We build a very simple robot in the fall, typically just a drivetrain with perhaps one auxiliary mechanism. It doesn’t obey the rules (no place to attach bumpers, for example), but does give a vehicle for new students to understand the basics of construction – things like cutting 1x2 extrusion to the right lengths, how to put holes in the right place, how to rivet, what are gussets, here’s a basic electrical system, here’s basic robot software, and so on. We do the design on paper and our design team gets experience putting the design into Onshape while the robot is being built.
Typically, this robot is just built out of spare parts – we don’t buy anything for it.
That way, in January, students have the basic skills that they’ll need for the season.
We keep robots from previous seasons, sometimes without all their mechanisms, for various uses. Drive practice, vision development, sparring/ defense during practice with the comp ‘bot. Retired robots, like retired mentors, don’t lose all their usefulness.
We tried to build 2, but time restraints meant that one of ours ended up being a drivetrain for auton coding. We also technically were still working on a swerve drivetrain, but didn’t use it for anything. So I guess we built 1 and a half robots.
Man, I know some people see teams building multiple bots over the season as a downside to no bag, but what an absolutely awesome opportunity it is for students to get multiple robots’ worth of building experience in the same amount of time they previously only had to build one or two robots. Building more robots builds even better students, and that’s the real win for this program.
We planned to build a practice bot, but got too far behind schedule and didn’t. I think it was more about struggling with the transition back to in-person rather than related to no bag, although we might have collectively gotten our act together sooner if we’d had the looming bag’n’tag deadline.