Is Sandstorm Sticking Around?

Perhaps this question has already been answered, and if it has please let me know (its been bugging me for quite some time). Do you think Sandstorm (or something equivalent with an appropriately themed name) will be staying next year, or will we be moving back to traditional autonomous? I can see them keeping it to reduce the overhead work for less experienced teams that is autonomous (because driving with a camera does not take nearly as much prep), but I would also like to get some good old fashioned autonomous period back. What do you all think?

Something that was theorized is that we will have a sandstorm like auton period at the end of the match rather than the beginning. Watching the reveal video it gets dark or a fog rolls over at the end or something. I think sandstorm’s format kind of sucked because it reduced the incentive for autonomous, but I assume FIRST implemented it for a reason and it is probably here to stay.


DRIVERS must let go of their CONSCIOUS SELF and stretch out with their FEELINGS


I’m fine if it sticks around. Top teams are going to automate things throughout the match no matter what, while the bottom tier can be made to camera-drive easily enough.

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They also added a Hybrid Kinect period for a year… I don’t see that still kickin’ around


I’d prefer it left for 2 reasons:

  1. Give more students more experience with autonomous control
  2. (IMO) it’s not fun to watch students drive when they can’t see. This is the same reason I prefer games without blocked sight lines.

The difference is that that was blatantly dumb. Sandstorm has merits, even if I dont like it.

Related reading:

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That gave me an idea. What if for Autonomous/sandstorm the drivers are blindfolded but the coaches can see.




You don’t think FIRST would do that?

Sandstorm, but the coaches get a tablet with a birds eye view that they can coach with.


They certainly might, for a year, until everyone makes it very very clear that they hate it and that is stupid, or if someone trips and falls.


^Now that, that is a good idea.^


I kind of agree with this, but I don’t think Sandstorm benefits the middle teams. Top tier teams will always do autonomous. However although some middle tier teams are able to do autonomous, it is not incentivized for them. Some teams are capable, but not all of them may do it simply because they can drive better in Sandstorm while looking through a camera or on the big screen.

That was our team this year. I had programmed a few autonomous modes to score one hatch or one cargo, but why use an autonomous that might fail when you can just drive. Unlike in 2018, I didn’t strive to improve our autonomous because we weren’t using it.

This isn’t a bad idea, but think of what would happen if you play the entire match, then one alliance’s blinds go down and the other alliance’s doesn’t. Instead of ending the match at around 20 seconds, you’ve just played an entire match and have to do a replay of it.

I think most drivers looked at a big screen anyway during sandstorm. At least half of the teams that didn’t do autonomous did this.

i can almost guarantee it is going away. One of the sources is actually the DJ’s guide for 2020. It specifically uses the term “autonomous” when describing the first 15 seconds of the match, as well as a description of what the term means for clarity. I’m pretty sure there was one or two others things that gave it away and if I remember them I’ll be sure to link :joy:


Has anyone ever seen the dj guide to 2018 because maybe it said auto


You’re also one of the mid-pack teams fortunate to have someone who cares enough about software and autonomy to make that happen. Many (not all) teams in that grouping would likely have a more rewarding experience with more hardware shakedown time.

The guide also says “The DJ does not have to worry about the game sound effects, as they are usually handled by a sideline referee/judge.”, when game sounds are managed by FMS. I don’t feel like we should take that as gospel.


With the update to the WPILIB software libraries encouraging kinematics, odometry, and path following, I could see FRC reverting to autonomous to encourage usage of these new libraries for at least a year or two.

The two (autonomous & path following) are not necessarily mutually exclusive, but the first 15 seconds to try out unimpeded auto with working motion profiling and path following would be a great way to force teams to learn these new concepts.

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I don’t believe so, for 2 reasons.

  1. Every year since 2015 there has been some major deviation from the typical. In 2019 you had sandstorm instead of auton, 2018 had time-based scoring, 2017 saw human players on the field during matches, 2016 had audience selection, and 2015 had no alliance interaction. All of those were a one and done thing, so I thing sandstorm will as well.

  2. With the removal of stop build, mid to lower resource teams have far more time on their robot. Teams who ran out of time for auton previously can theoretically now get at least something by their first competition, making sandstorm less of a benefit than this year