Is swerve hard to learn

So next year we are looking to make the move to swerve, and It looks like I’m going to be the one driving since I drove our tank bot this year and I can get along with our op really well. I’ve already seen posts about how video games don’t really help and there isn’t much that really helps learning to drive it. So Is swerve hard to learn and takes a long time to get down, or is it easy to get down after a few matches and you just improve the more you drive.

The main struggle I see myself having is switching from robot oriented to field oriented. Especially because I have got so accustom to robot oriented.

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Honestly, in my opinion, swerve is easier to drive up to a mid-high level. It’s much more intuitive to me, and as someone who drove our tank 2022 robot for some matches and swerve 2023-24 bots I think it’s pretty clear that I’m much better on a swerve bot. One thing I will say, there are teams that build swerve and their drivers don’t fully use it. Every time I see a team with swerve pick up a game piece, drive across the field; then rotate and score a little part of me dies. The whole point of swerve is you have complete freedom to translate and rotate at the same time, and many drivers know this, but will still drive their robots like it has a tank drive.

The robot—>field oriented switch can be slightly confusing, but at least for me, at one point it kind of just clicked and became second nature. Put in some hours on the sticks and you’ve got this!


For me, swerve was much easier to learn than tank because you are not having to work around tank’s limitations. No awkward re-orienting movements necessary to align or move where you want, you can just go straight from point A to B while setting rotation at the same time. If you think about it as a mindset of you want to end up at point B from point A, you should be able to quickly get over the mental block and take full advantage of swerve.

When you start using swerve ask your programmers to add a toggle between robot and field oriented. That was you can get used to how swerve moves (speed, rotation, etc.) before you have to get used to field oriented.
Additionally, field oriented is only as good as your positioning, if the robot is not where it thinks it is (even just a couple degrees off) then your field oriented will be terrible even if you have the greatest driver in the world.

I feel like swerve is easier to understand. From my experience running out booth at stem nights where elementary kids drive around the bot, they get a hang of it quick and it’s easier to explain.

I don’t think we’ve seen this happen. If our field oriented was off by a few degrees, the driver would just adjust or could reset at a good moment.

happened to us where one of our modules was off, not the whole thing. made it impossible


If the rotation (azimuth) of one of the swerve modules loses calibration (or was not calibrated correctly to start with) it’s going to affect both field-centric and robot-centric driving. Robot-centric does not get a pass from this problem.

If the problem module lost calibration because the controller reset mid-match, you are controlling module drive angle with the motor’s encoder, and you have a functioning absolute encoder on the module, the right code can re-calibrate the module on the fly and get you going again.

If the robot gyro has drifted (or robot orientation was not set up correctly to begin with), that’s going to affect field-centric. Straight forward on the controller will result in angled driving because of the gyro error. This too can be fixed mid-match by driving against something on the field with a known orientation and then having code to reset the gyro to that orientation.

On-field re-calibrations are costly in terms of time, but can be done.

While posting, to address the OP’s question, I’ve not seen the student yet that thinks swerve is harder to drive than tank (we have some tank bots we use for practice against defense). Field-centric swerve is very natural to drive. For someone who has tons of experience playing games and moving in the equivalent of robot-centric, if they want to drive swerve that way, they can. I’ve not seen anyone drive robot-centric and be able to spin multiple times while smoothly driving across the field, but that’s about the only limitation.


Our drivers love playing Super Monkey Ball 2. It’s our goto game. It helps a lot with getting minor hand movements dialed in.

Switching your head space will be hard. It’s going to take some retraining to get used to swerve. However, whatever you do, don’t give in to the desire to drive swerve like a tank. Practice a lot, and have plenty of time where you don’t even practice rotating,just driving X and Y. Then practice getting used to rotating to specific locations while driving X and Y. Don’t immediately go into “playing the game”. Drill the basics, and you will figure it out.


In my opinion, swerve is easier than tank to learn basic movement, however mastering it is more difficult. Get the basics down and watch any and all frc driving tip videos you can find. Get good at anticipating a defenders movement and then doing the opposite to get around.

As the main driver of my team, I find swerve drive to be easy to learn but hard to master, I personally think that swerve drive is the most easiest and most intuitive with a controller like Xbox or PS4 Controller, I also have driven tank drivetrains during competitions before, with a big joy stick as that is the most intuitive for tank drivetrain imo.


Holonomic motion is so much better and easier. Even my extremely drifty FC mecanum drive was so much easier to learn than my tank FRC robot.
Conclusion: make your FRC robot mecanum drive.

I don’t know about driving swerve exactly, but you definitely need to make and perfect it during the off-season instead of the build season. (And don’t get discouraged if your first year of swerve doesn’t go great, that’s often the case when a team transitions to swerve— but figuring it during the off-season will help.)

Every time I see a robot on the field, or in the pits with mecanum wheels on their drivetrain, I get sad.

I’d like to formally petition FRC vendors to remove 6+" mecanum wheels from their websites. The only way to get teams to st—