Know YOUR robots abilities

This year I think it is very important to know what your robot is ‘really’ capable of.

It doesn’t help telling your alliance that you can tow eleven goals on smooth surfaces downhill with 11 students and 2 engineers in the goals in the snow…:rolleyes:

Last year many, many teams overestimated their abilities on speed, balance, and strength (we were probably in there at one time also) This year be prepared to tell your alliance the real time it takes you to get to the goals, what true percentage your robot can hook on to, if you have a chance of winning a pull off, how many balls your robot can ‘really’ get in 2 minutes on a dynamic playing field (not when the goals are sitting there lonely), also how durable is your robot? Will it die a quick death if someone bumps it; did that just happen in the last match?

You teammate needs to know the truth just as you need to know about their robot also. Giving accurate stats on your robot only helps both teams

Thank you for saying this.

this is so true of many teams.

If you have not done it yet that means it will not happen. So many team think there robot can do something but when it comes to do it they fail.

The best thing to do is tell your team mate what you have done. and how good you did it. this will help a lot more than a team telling you that the robot can do it if you give them a chance.

tell the truth nothing but the truth so help your robot.

Couldn’t have said it better myself. Thanks for reminding teams of this before the first regionals. It was a MAJOR issue last year.

~Tom Fairchild~

P.S. to all the scouts out there - this only shows you more so that you need data from the practice matches along with the pits.

I totally agree, it is very important to tell the truth about what your robot does. Its not just a white lie like saying that you’re only 145 on your drivers license. Because if you say you can do something and when it comes down to it you can’t, your only hurting yourself and your partner. Its also important to know in advance what your partners can do, if they say they can drag two and pick up balls, and they have casters, i’d be weary.

Can I just give you all a hug for saying this? I really hope teams listen, I had a team last year tell me they could balance 2 goals, with fisher price as their drive, needless to say they had trouble getting themselves over the ramp… so please everyone take this advice, you’ll gain a million more times respect from teams being honest than you will just trying to look and sound good.



This thread should be mandatory reading and EVERY team under three years should have to sign off as having read it in order to compete.

EVERY team under three years should have to sign off as having read it in order to compete.

Last year we were a rookie team and we learned the first regional we went to not to trust what people said about their robots.
We used the practice sessions as a way to determine what other teams could and could not do.
Our kids were told to be as honest as possible about our robots abilities. You only hurt your alliance partners if you tell them you can do something than can’t follow through.

throws $.02 into kitty

Wayne Doenges

Couldn’t have said it better myself. Although with good scouting forms from what a team says in the pit and what they can do in practice rounds and what they can do in the first few qualifying matches helps out a WHOLE bunch. So even if teams do lie watch what they do on the field and catch them in their lie:D .


In 2000 i was a scout and it really made me wonder when in a match a team has trouble collecting 5 balls and moving faster than 5 FPS, but when you ask them in the Pit, they say they can pick up 20 and can go 14 FPS…kind of gets suspicious

I think that most teams are not really lying when they say they can do this or that skill and then cannot really do it.

We have all put our hearts into these robots. We have a difficult time believing that our children are not perfect.

Most of the time I believe that teams believe that their robot is more capable than is supported by objective data.

Yes, I believe it is important for teams to take a good long look in the mirror so that they know what they are and are not capable of doing. BUT…

…I think we should all keep a reserve of gracious professionalism handy for a disappointed parent who sees their child let them down in the glare of the spotlights… …again.

I believe it is more often wishful thinking than malicious lying.

Joe J.

First of all, we all need to understand a few things:

  1. Pit scouting is different than match scouting. Pit scouting is when you walk up to another team’s pit and interview a person about how their robot is SUPPOSED to perform. Match scouting is recording the performance of a robot during the match.

Every single team in the past has overestimated how their robot performs in the match. We don’t plan on our robots to break down, our student drivers to freeze under pressure or another robot to get caught in our drive train.

We just need to deal with this and understand that what is said in the pits is different than what is seen on the field.

  1. The 2002 game is different than the 2001 game. 2001 was a nasty game when it came to depending on another team to do their job. Since some jobs could only be done by 1 team (balancing the goals) at a time, the other three were at the mercy of the team doing this one job. This year, since there is no single task that must be done by only one team, it won’t be as much of a problem.

Teams will have more ability to be able to prove what their machine can do. There will be less of this sort of discussion:

“no, you can’t go and pick up balls… we’re going to be doing that”

All in all, I agree that teams MUST BE HONEST when they are telling other teams about how their robot performs. It only hurts both teams when people exaggerate too much or out and out lie.


Teams will have more freedom to prove what they can do this year. Don’t simply scout their practice matches or their pits… scout their seeding matches also, and see how teams are improving over the course of a competition. A team who can’t get the job done during the early stages of a regional may find a fix and get their bot working by the end.

Andy B.

In all my years in FIRST I have learned these very simple rules of thumb for scouting…

  1. Watch a robot to find out its capability’s.

  2. Talk to the team to see if they are easy to work with.

In a nutshell, if you go around the pit, asking a team what they can do you are taking a huge risk. You can ask people to be honest til the cows come home, and they will always exadurate (unless they are really broken in which case they will usually tell you, “yeah, we can move like 2 ft thats about it right now!”…big points in my book for honesty). If you want to be successful in FIRST you have to either…

a. have an unstoppable robot.

b. have a great strategy team.

c. get picked by a team with an unstoppable robot or great strategy team.

Its all about watching matches people.

Andy Grady

all of those points are valid, but I know for a fact that there is a number of people that stretch the truth on what their robot can do…some of it is obvious, the other isnt so obvious,
For scouting, dont base all your selections on Pit Interviews, but dont base it all on field performance…

This is why it is important to have experenced people do scouting, People who know every aspect of the game, rules and knowledge in mechanics and electrical systems.

They would be able to figure out who is lying right away from their experence. If someone says can pull 2 weighted goals at 0fps while the person doing the scouting only sees seat motors for their drive would know better rather then someone who does not have a experence with such systems.

You also need to ask if they had tested and measured a system. If a team has a go home device thats great, but have they tested it. 9fps good!, how did you measure that? If the answer is no and with a wall clock you may be in trouble. It may not be a lie that they have something but are they sure it works. It would be like having a propeller on a robot and just by that say that it flies. Or in another case having a drive system made from rubberbands on pullys, sure it can pull a truck (if the rubber bands dont break). Relyability (sp?) is the key here, if you can go 40fps with 2000 n/in torque but only for 1/2 a sec before something burns out, that is no good. So things may be true, just not the full story.

      Remember what they kept repeating, Robustness :) 

and watch out for yourself…“see it when you believe it” :smiley:

When I have scouts come into our pits the first thing I ask is if they have seen our robot on the field. This answers a lot of question they might start asking. If they have not seen it I list all the time that we will be out on the field.

At lease this shows them what our robot can do. Sometimes we do not show all during our practice. We do this to have a edge on the first few matches we play.

One thing you should look for in robots is when they get back from the field do they have to work on it until they are up again.

I seen team working every second on there robot and tell you everything is working fine.:smiley:

This year is going to be easier than last year. because you really can win matches by yourself. You get 10 point for your teammate robot if it does not move:)

Robust is going to be a key factor this year. I can see some robots doing good in the begining and then break and not be able to recover quick enought to do well at the end.

Look for steel. steel is real. the light stuff will break sooner or later.

One last thing look for robots that use the KISS system. If you look at a robot that looks like it was been in thrown together and has no rime or reason. beware.

GLAD SOMEONE SAID IT, giving accurate stats about your bot is vital. Even though this is MY first year at regionals I’ve already discovered just how important it is to give CORRECT stats (as opposed to ‘good’ stats) to your alliance. Even if your bot has flaws, giving CORRECT stats can help your alliance work around them. I also think that scouting is a benefit because then you can see for yourself what another bot can do.

team 86

I ran into this at our scrimmage. One team we were allied with claimed that they could grab two goals every time and hold onto them, and told us rather bluntly that we weren’t needed and should just stick in the home zone. Well, the match started, and their grabber failed to engage on either goal, and we were unprepared to rush in. This kind of shocked us, as they were a well respected team, but I also taught us that no matter what the other team says, we should always have a contigency plan in case they have overestimated their own abilities (as it is so easy to do in the heat of competition). I’m sure everyone (including ourselves) is guilty of bragging at some point, not just the teams newer than three years, so just remember what my math teacher said about word problems: “Observation is the key to preparation.”

Good point. What I realized when I went scouting at VCU was that teams especially overestimated their capabilities for ball scoring and speed. For most (although not all teams) it was difficult to pick up all the balls lying so close to the field border and they spent more time on it than they should have done. Virtually all of the teams I scouted also overestimated their speed by 100% or more (meanng that they were half as fast or less than they thought they were). Furthermore, a real match is no ideal testing situation where your robot can do everything that it is designed to do without being interrupted by other robots. Even though a mechnism might work perfectly, it could be difficult for the driver and/or opereator to engange it if there is some kind of disturbance from the outside (a goal is not aligned perfectly or moves, etc.).
These are of course just my own and very objective impressions and they might not be idential with other people’s experiences.