Infared in Next Year's Game

This is somewhat speculation, but I was looking at some footage form this year’s kickoff (I’m making somewhat of a short documentary on FIRST, and there are quite a few good sound bites from the kickoff (though Dean’s are all too long to really be ‘soud bites’ except for the line “Everybody, likes, Robots.”))

ANYway, at one point, Dean, Dave, and Woodie were discussing the IR sensors. Dave said “Do you have to use IR sensors? No. But we supply all the software and the servos and we make it as easy as possible, so why wouldn’t you. But do you need to use them? No. That doesn’t say anything about next year, however.”

Now, this is pure speculation, obviously, but from what he said, it sounded that next year teams would HAVE to use IR for some aspect of the game. More than just autonomous. Now, I have no idea how far ahead they plan out the games, so it could have been only an off the cuff statement. But to me, it sounded that next year, IR would be a necessity in one form or another.


My team has been speculating about this too (and a large part of it wanted to make a bad decision to use IR this year based on this quote). I can’t imagine how it could possibly become mandatory next year. Even for very important elements of the game, there are always multiple ways to go about it, it defenitley is not in the spirit to make IR a neccessity. I think they may have just wanted to encourage more people to use it.

IR as a whole seems to have went pretty badly because of all sorts of interference people were reporting. After this showing, one wonders if IR will be back at all. I think they should spend money on some other interesting sensor system (hmmm, cant really think of anything practical right now, but im sure they can :slight_smile: ) unless they can improve IR significantly.

It definately sounds like IR will be more important next year (or so was the plan). I don’t necessarily agree that there is any problem with it this year with interference or anything else. It all depends, obviously, on the design of the housing mechanism of the sensor, correctly limiting its input and reducing reflection error … but the IR portion of our code has worked every single time at 2 different regionals (we use a specific pulse width plus first is monitoring for stray ir signals, so that can’t really be a problem … and dealing with reflections is part of the game/design challenge … remember, it ain’t supposed to be easy!).

I might have to eat my Red Sox hat next year, but FIRST will never force us to use the IR sensors.

In this year’s game the IR beacon was used to show where a stationary object was. A taped line was also supplied to help find the stationary object. Because it’s a stationary object you could count wheel revolutions or even use dead reckoning.

I think what Dave was eluding to was a situation where it’s the only sensor you could use. For instance, if the mobile goal was randomly placed on your side of the field. To show robots where the mobile goal is, an IR beacon could be installed on the mobile goal.

That’s my $0.02 on the issue :cool:

I believe the autonomous should be a little more important than this year, but I do not think limiting us to infared as the only sensor input would be a wise move. That would not be very open to creativity, and kind of takes the fun out of the autonomous.

IR is useful, but I can think of combinations of certain sensors that would be more useful depending on the situation… :cool:

I’m probably going to be wrong, but I think that the IR will be like the reflective tape: available to us, but not mandatory.

I’m not really sure why I feel this way…it’s a hunch. :slight_smile:

I think it will be used in an integral, super important part of the game next year, and that in order to accomplish your task the IR sensors would provide you with the easiest way to accomplish it.

why? what’s the point? Part of the game is to decide what is the best way to play it. FIRST is pretty good at making this decision a tuff one. Why would it decide to give people only one option?

I don’t know if you saw all the wonderful threads about speculation for this year’s game… everything came up, and the same will happen in the upcoming offseason. Lavery is a funny guy, sometimes he’ll throw out an idea he thought of. For all we know, he thought of it while on stage and just said it, and by now he isn’t even considering implementing something with IR sensors. It’s all in good fun, don’t believe everything you hear :wink: They’re not going to give you enough bark to bite on before releasing the game next year. Plus, if they do “force” you to use IR sensors, teams can still do dead reckoning systems or use sensors similar to the StangPS and similar things I’ve seen with other teams. I’d personally recommend that you look more into things like Wildstands Positioning System (StangPS) and learn how to make systems like that in preparation for next year, and not so much on how to find an IR beacon :wink:

Maybe the robots themselves will have an IR sensor and our robots can recognize each other and cooperate (or compete or cooperpete or whatever). In this case, it would have to be mandatory that you broadcast.

Wow, that is a really awesome idea and im already convinced that thats what its going to be. That is just beautiful. Imagine the possibilities. True autonomy may really happen.

Andrew, I’m going to believe everything you say from now on, you are awesome.

Um, just to get it on the record, is that a clean or dirty red sock :smiley: ?


I was thinking about that, the reason I don’t think FIRST would do that is because… IR sensors are one directional. Sure, you can transfer some information from one to another similar to a remote does with a TV, but you’d have to aim the sensor at the other robot. From what I’ve seen this year and last, it’s a pretty big step to do something like that to have the sensor track and find the other robots… it just seems too complicated to be used next year… maybe once teams get more comfortable with autonomous, I’d think. I do have a hunch that robots will communicate with each other (actually I thought they would this year) through a secondary radio system… which wouldn’t require the robots to point towards the other to transmit… I think we’ll see something similar to that before teams are forced to make a system use IR and find another robot and transmit… while still tracking that robot. Just seems like too many variables/problems to be introduced when teams are still having so many troubles with the simple autonomous modes as they are now.

Communicating with each other may be in fact more complex. What communication standard do you use. Even more important, what do you communicate? I think this is less realistic than each robot having a beacon of some sort.

Though im not sure, i imagine it would be pretty simple to make a omnidirectional IR beacon. First of all, FIRST already does this on the field. Second, i think it can be even simpler than what FIRST appears to have (several small area beacons) by just shining a single beacon at a reflective sphere (say a 2x ball :slight_smile: )

Interesting comment. What path of logic has led you to that conclusion?

Dead reckoning systems are wonderful - as long as you know where everything is located, and can predict with reasonable accuracy how well your robot will navigate. But what happens if your target location is imprecisely identified?

Line following systems are great - as long as the lines lead to where you want to go. But what happens when they don’t?

Sooner or later, robots must make the leap from structured to unstructured environments. The only way to do that is to rely on sensor systems that do not require fiducial marks or calibrated hard points to guide the machine.

Kevin, you supply the salt and pepper, and I will bring the ketchup. I am hoping that some condiments may be needed later this year… :slight_smile:


Interesting ideas for summer research: Sensor fusion. Handyboard IR comm. Lego IR Towers. Pseudolytes.

I’d personally like to see a GPS-like system. Just 2 or 3 beacons around the field that robots can use to assist in positioning. Then teams can use that in conjunction with other sensors to find the “imprecisely identified” targets, which if they’re moving or something similar… it will make it a fun autonomous mode. I’d like to see a system where you must rely on more than one system like you said. Not just infrared sensors, or just dead reckoning, but sort of a mix (maybe you need to get to a certain point before your in a line of sight with the infrared sensor due to a wall/obstruction in the way at the beginning?) I’d love to see a really good challenge in autonomous… and have enough points devoted to it that teams will spend more focus on it… because I know that’s why we haven’t put too much emphasis into autonomous, there’s just not enough value in it to do anything crazy… but if multipliers or something come back for doing something in autonomous… or even autonomous at the end of a match.

For example, I know one thing I really would love to see is where teams can choose when to go in autonomous. So, if say they want to be in autonomous the last 30 seconds of a match, they get a certain amount of points… however other teams don’t necessarily go in autonomous as well, so it’s like… the robot literally has to be able to think and counteract what the other team drivers may do… but if you can do it well… you’d be very well rewarded, making a very interesting twist to the game. So maybe something like… for every second you stay in auto (if you exit auto before the end of the match it voids though unless you restart it and if you restart it you only get counted for the last bit). Just an idea I’ve played around with in my head the past few months.

OK, I’ll bite. What’s a pseudolyte?

You can do a GPS like system with what we have now. (x,y, and direction) What you need for location to be completely unabiguous is three sensors that can tell the direction to the the beacons relative to your robot’s personal co-ordinate system. The sensors need to be arrainged so that they are never in a line with respect to both beacons. Though if you want to get fancy you can even accomodate that to some extent.

Only two sensors are required if you just want position and don’t mind a little confusion when you cross the “equator” between the beacons.


Uh oh… The hat’s clean right now, maybe I should put it away so it’s clean for January:D I’m not sure what condiment would go best, A1… A1 BOLD maybe…

I believe the correst spelling is pseudolite. And it literally means pseudo-satellite, as in a land based GPS system. This link explians the pseudolite research being done at Stanford for such projects as NASA’s Rovers.