Less Interest in Robots in the pits this year?

This year it seemed like there was a major reduction of people asking in depth questions about robots in the pits. Likewise, there seemed to be a major reduction of the number of people going in depth talking about features of their robots? Did anyone else notice this? Maybe it is because 2/3 of the robots had the same gearbox, and many robots had similar arms? A lack of variety perhaps? Or maybe it is because there aren’t many robots that really stick out at being effective at the game; they are all pretty good?

I don’t know. To me, it really seemed like we didn’t get any “oh how’d you guys do that?” or “what makes that work?” or “do you have drawings for this mechanism?” or “I really like the way you…” etc questions/comments while in the pits.

In 2003 when we linked together a Chiaphua motor with a Drill motor with sprockets and chains and had it geared for a final speed of 11 fps. Like half the teams in the competition thought that it was the latest greatest thing (having a fast/powerful 4 motor drive) and they all had so many questions, even though it was so simple.

Now, many of us take it way above and beyond that, yet people just don’t really seem interested.

Why is this?

PS. I hope next year’s game really brings a lot more variety and inovation in drive systems and has the opportunity/requirement for more than one mechanism

Our rookie team received a lot of interest for a lot of reasons.

But, for the “robot” questions, I’d have to say that it’s the fault of the person who wrote the scouting form and/or coached the scouting team to NOT go and ask the in-depth questions of each pit team.

Now, also, there are a LOT of teams to scout out, so you have to get to the target teams and ask quick, crisp, sussinct questions in the pits to find their strengths and weaknesses.

So, no I don’t think there was any “less interest” in the robots in the pits. Also, I saw a lot of teams TOUTING some particular feature on their pit storyboards, so maybe then you don’t need to re-ask the question when the answer is posted in front of you.

Also, it’s a two-way street. The pit crews should be SOLICITING input from other teams by saying “Hey, want to see my fancy multi-speed, mega-horsepower drive assembly?”

I agre on those two things. Alot of the robots were the same because there was relly on 1 ting ll the teams did. Stack on top.

unless you had a total different arm never seen before you weren’t asked many questions…the drive chains were simple too…nothing completely fancy…

so many more teams and matches to scout time was a bit short especially for smaller teams.

i saw three basic designs

  1. Pyramids
  2. all 80/20 lift systems
  3. and boxes

nobody was really unique this year
seems some are scared to chance with different drive train and such.

Yeah, it is really too bad that there wasn’t even one unique drive train. I was always on the lookout for some team that did something different that just four Chiaphuas and the kit gearboxes, but could never seem to find one…


(gently removing tounge from cheek)

There were actually a number of very unique designs and innovative components this year. Because many of the “basics” were provided in the kits this year, many teams were able to focus their attention on developing new capabilities at a more detailed level than before. One side-effect of that is the new developments might not hit you in the face when you first looked at a robot, because their physical manifestations were more subtle. But I would posit that things like the noticeable increase in the use of PID controls, subtle refinements in choice of materials for wheel surfaces, gripper designs (anybody else pay attention to Team 16?), and many other advances in design were there - if you looked for them - and were significant.


No matter what the game design is, you can come up with something unique. Again, 16 is a good example with their corkscrew. There were unique drive trains (357, 190, and 116 come to mind) and unique arms [shameless plug]like ours[/shameless plug]. If you want more in depth questions, like we had, build a unique mechanism that makes you stand out! While 75% of robots had a “chop stick lift” design, there were unique arms.

I’m not sure it had anything to do with less interest in the Robots this year, but with the more hectic pace of the competition. I saw all kinds of systems that I would have liked to study more closely, but with more matches, closer together, and more scouting to do for each match, there just wasn’t time.

I did like the 3 vs. 3 format though, even though it meant less time to study other teams.


There were certainly a LOT of unique features that I saw between Philli, NJ, and Nationals this year. I think, however, a lot of scouting teams feel overly busy and scatterbrained when they’re walking around the pits. Usually there is so much information to get done and so little time to do it. A lot of the time, I was just to frazzled to ASK. Sparky actually took the time to EXPLAIN the unique features on their bot.

You can’t expect someone to want more information, but if you supply it, most people will listen.

i think it was because a lot teams spent more time on perfecting there robots. Also because every had at least 2-3 other teams that looked like it at a regional.

In the pits, it seemed like many people were asking about our robot. Regardless, I would say that the lack of interest was because there was only 1 thing that really mattered: scoring tetras. Indeed, there were defensive robots, but the kit transmissions and other similar designs made just about every robot with a low center of gravity a possible defensive robot. And I can personally vouch for the hectic-ness in the pits (try scouting all of Archimedes by yourself :wink: ).

Our team seems to be a contradiction to this… We had many people ask about how we did our swivel drive, or crab drive. I remember at the Sacramento regional the team captain put me in charge of “bragging about the swivel drive” because he was tired of saying the same thing over and over. The answer to why not many teams were asked in depth questions about their drive trains in most likely due to the fact that there were mainly tank drive systems this year. I’d be willing to bet that the teams with strange and innovational drive systems/arms got many people asking questions. wow… just for the record, that was the longest post of my life.

Yeah, for our team with the holonomic drive, we didnt stop talking to people. In fact, we had a hard time getting the robot out of the pit to go begin the inspection process!! Every member of our team was talking to people in our pit non-stop the entire competition.

I would actually respond to this Question with a yes and no.

Yes: I saw less talking to scouts and other people in our pit. If people have seen Bertha (340’s 2005 robot) we were mainly asked how we fit into the template box. We then would explain how the arm folds. The only other main question in our pit was about the XRP 3 speeds.

No: I know that I asked many teams about their robots. I saw many people around asking in depth questions that were important. Some that come to mind that I asked about are 67 (crab drive and arm), 111 (all of the moving components), 330 (how worked so well and so simple) and 639 (arm and claw).

Compared to last year, 340 definitely saw less in depth questions in our pit. I think for one was that this year we were not as unique. We did not do something that was really innovative compared to other years. Last year we had a very unique tri-wheel design that worked very well and was different than most robots (Seen here and here). I remember that a person from howstuffworks.com interviewed our team about the tri-wheel design.

In my opinion there are mainly two reasons for a decrease of in depth question this year. For one the game this year is mostly about stacking tetras. Also there is not as much time this year between matches because of the 3v3 setup.

I agree too, its a matter of Yes and No

Yes, there were a lot of scouts, as always. But instead of scouting technical aspects of a robot they were more intrested in the abilities of it. This year’s game was VERY heavy on strategy, there were several matches when Robots with better strategy were able to beat out some robots that we’re clearly better than them.

And No, I was one of maybe 2 other technical scouts that i saw at the championship. Their were probably more but I didn’t see them really. I mostly went around to robots that i knew had features that stood out and studied and asked how they worked. I got into great conversations with great people on 16, 45, 111, 229, 233, 254, 365 and many, many more on how their robots worked and how some of their features worked and how they got around to fabricating took place. But in the conversations I had I definetly got the impression that people didn’t get the chance to talk to other students about how they designed and built parts.

Anyway, what I got to do was talk to a ton of people as well as get some more ideas into my head on how to do stuff next year. If people are intrested in this I highly reconmend trying it out at whatever competition your in next. It would be awesome to see more people get into this type of scouting next year, its a lot of fun and a great way to meet people too. And it never hurts to have a few MORE ideas.

In doing a lot of scouting for our team I got to ask questions and got asked a few about our robot. While I did notice a lot of people checking out our robot (chrome = attraction) less than half actually asked questions. The questions that were asked, mainly by scouts, were general questions about the performance of the robot, rarely were there any asked about technical aspects or our robot (which were usually directed toward our manipulator).

As for asking questions my self, I often chose to ask general performance questions, not technical. I did ask a few, and I admit I would have liked to asked more technical stuff, but the fast pace I often had to work at didn’t allow me the time to do so.

Although I this was my first real year around the pits, I would suppose the lack of questions was based on three factors

  1. Similar robot designs, and mostly the same two gear boxes (FIRST and AM’s)
  2. The usually quick turn around time on matches.
  3. On top of the quick turn around time, there were also two more teams to research per match.

I can’t say which team number set up is better, but I at least hope next year, that I will find more time to ask questions.

In our pit the interest wasn’t on the robot but more on the Dynomometer, a device we developed to check the speed and power of robots.

Like my father so obviously pointed out, 116 did have a unique drive train (and control box for that matter), and we did receive a number of in depth questions about both.
Because of the 3v3 format, you had to visit 33% more pits per match (which the number of matches also went up with the 3v3 format), allowing you less time on Friday and Saturday to scout and talk in depth. The people who were just “browsing” the pits, and not scouting did tend to stop by and ask questions.
The disturbing part was that a few of the scouts I tried to explain the drive system to when they asked about it (and not just me, when any of our team members tried to explain it to them) seemed not to be able to comprehend how it works. But thankfully that was just a couple.

What is so hard to explain? The AndyMark omniwheels are mounted horizontally. When they spin really, really fast (>120,000rpm) they create a 0.116" cushion of air under them and the robot becomes a hovercraft. The magnetic torquers on orthogonal axes of the robot align with the magnetic field of the earth to provide orientation. Propulsion is gained by modulating the frequencies of the torquers, generating a net repulsive force against the north pole, which allows the robot hovercraft to move anywhere on the field in a north-south direction. For east-west movement, we take advantage of the coriolis forces of the Earth’s rotation.

There, that wasn’t so hard, was it? :slight_smile:

(at least that is how I think it works…)

(sorry, tongue is still stuck in cheek)

Wow! I’d really like to see video of an AndyMark omniwheel at 120krpm! Might need to do the test inside some thick concrete walls…

But the results should be spectacular!