Onboard Live Feeds from Robots?

Do you think it would be cool if FIRST included a first-legal camera to mount on your robot which would provide live feeds from the robot to the main display and webcast during competition? Or perhaps for review/replay later for judging/reffing/entertainment purposes?

Something like the in-car views that NASCAR has, to be shown on the main monitor/webcast as the whole view or maybe an inset or something. If wireless network cameras were used it would make it possible for the 6 video feeds from robots to be selected individually… I’m sure X10 or something like that would gladly give the cameras to first for a good price (maybe free) in return for some advertisement at first events.

what do you think?


The idea of on-board video is really great and if you check-out this thread:
Team 766 Robot On-board Video, you can see what it might look like.

There are few problems with doing it live:

  1. video transmitters can create interference,
  2. there’s likely to be “drop outs” as the robot moves around and,
  3. there’s already discussion about the inability to watch “the game” (see: ZOOM OUT!).

I think some kind of replay of on-board shots would be really cool, but not necessarily live views.

it would be really cool, but FIRST probably wouldn’t let the drivers use it, because it would give some teams an unfair advantage. i do think that it would be a cool idea though to use for the live tv webcast, or at least the big screen in the arena…

These points are not necessarily true. Most video transmitters that are inexpensive rely on analog transmission, not digital. These devices broadcast on the same frequencies regular TV stations do, which in the case of VHF is 30-300MHz. IFI’s radios are on the 900MHz portion of the spectrum. Testing in 177’s shop with a wireless camera, we got a range of about 50 feet before the signal started to degrade, so if the receiver was mounted on the radio pole (or even in the rack), there would be no problems. I can’t see why robot motion would cause “drop outs.”

The usefulness of on-robot cameras may be questionable, but it might be neat for autonomous, the end game, or particularly interesting shots in the middle of the match. It would be up to the video mixer to determine what he thought was worth display on the big screen.

Last year, WPI’s Lens and Light production team mounted cameras above the goals for Battlecry. You could see robots shooting balls into them, which was a really unique shot no one else ever thought to set up. A camera on some sort of remote control swivel tripod in the center of the rack might be interesting too.

Who knows, but there are plenty of interesting things left to do with video that FIRST hasn’t done yet.

I don’t see any issues with using an onboard camera so long as all robots are to use it. These cameras that Nascar use are of high quality and have made it through the toughest test - Vibration, Wind, Weather. With that said it’s safe to say those cameras would be ideal for FIRST if they were mounted out of the way of scoring parts on the robot / field. Team 177 and Team 766 aren’t the only robots who have utilized and onboard camera for FIRST Non-FIRST events. There was also another team that used it in 2001 at Bash at the Beach in CT which was strictly for the audiences benefit. I don’t remember the Team number but I do remember that it was a team that had bought a second robot to that event. There wasn’t much to the robot as far as construction is concerned (Pretty much a rolling Chassis.). As a matter of fact I think it was Team 225 who bought a second robot to that event.

An FCC license is required in order to use the VHF TV broadcast frequencies. I haven’t had a reason to look at the offerings in a few years, but all of the inexpensive “wireless video senders” I knew of then used the 900 MHz band. The slightly more expensive ones were 2.4 GHz.

Why live video? This year team 1425 had a legal recording video camera on its robot for almost all of its matches. I don’t really see the value of having the robot POV live. The field of view was too narrow to really see all that was going on. I know that if I was watching live, I wanted to see the whole field. The robot POV was good to pick up more details later.

The video is recorded by an Oregon Scientific helmet camera onto an SD card and periodically dumped to a computer. The helmet camera that 1425 used only records at 15 FPS (640x480) but it is a couple of years old. The same manufacturer has a newer one that records at 30fps. The camera’s battery tray was replaced by a plug and wired into a custom curcuit to get the 5V needed to run the camera. The camera is fixed focus (so no extra motors), and does not have any lights or other possibly distracting elements (it looks like a black tube). The SD card is 1GB and can hold about 1 hour worth of video. Each match is an AVI file averaging about 100-120MB in size. About half of that size is the robot waiting for the match to start.

We would play loops of previous matches in our pit area at the competiton - and we gave copies of the videos to anyone who asked.

We still need to edit out much of the sitting around time, but we are hoping to post what we have (Portland, San Diego, Las Vegas, Galileo) sometime in the near future. I thik it would be very cool to edit match video to combine shots from both external cameras and the robot POV.

If we really need/want live, I would suggest making a mounting spec for a camera to be supplied by FIRST for the event. Teams would build their robot with a mount point and reserve weight in the robot’s weight allowance to account for the camera. FIRST would then check the camera out to teams that would volunteer to let it ride with them.

Ours broadcasts on like channel 13 on your TV in VHF, however greg this is not very common, Mr.Anderson is right most on the market now are 2.4 ghz. Ours is much older and much smaller than most of the 2.4ghz ones. In large open spaces we experienced much better range than in the shop, you could walk around almost the entire venue in philly last year with out losing signal.

I think the idea of an inboard camera would be a great idea for FIRST robotics mainly because in the real scheme of things, how many robots (besides FIRST robots) move with a driver looking at them from 20 feet away? I think it would be great to see a game that had the driver stations covered up so the drivers couldn’t see the field and they had to rely on the camera for feedback only. Bomb squad robots and the robots the drive on planets are all driven with camera feedback to the driver. This can also make programming the robot much more intensive giving the programmers a harder time and making the robot more of a robot than an RC car.

I think live cameras are allowed already according to <R109>

<R109> Any decorations that involve broadcasting a signal to/from the ROBOT, such as remote
cameras, must be cleared with FIRST Engineering prior to the event and tested for
communications interference at the venue. This is the one permissible exception to Rule
<R66>. Note that 900 MHz camera systems will not be approved, and are not permitted at
any time.

Yeah, cameras have been allowed for a while with the limitations you stated.

I think more teams should record their matches via this method if they have the weight.

I bet some cameras mounted on turreted robots from last year could’ve made some awesome footage.

The idea is awesome, but it doesn’t seem like the video could be good quality.

Although LnL’s assistance is part of what makes BattleCry great, they actually just do the sound and lights. The video, scoring, confetti, etc production is run by BC staff members.

And, as much as we would love to be given credit for the goal cams, I’m pretty sure we stole the idea from the Florida regional. (After a while, all these FIRST events begin to blend in with each other, so I’m not exactly sure if thats where we saw it last year, but I think it is).

It would be very neat to copy championship this year and do the goal station cameras, but we don’t have $36000 in our budget for the widescreen LED display.

OK, time for some broadcast input…
Many of the cameras that would be cheap enough for wide use will not have great resolution or great lenses. They will have fixed focal lengths, i.e. a permanent field of view. The cameras in use in Nascar are specific designs with special transmitters and are set up by professionals before the race. Many fail during the race for a variety of reasons. Remember that racecars have rubber tires and suspension (albeit stiff for better control), robots do not, so the vibration and g-forces encountered on our robots are significant. Transmitters in the TV bands that are below a certain power do not need licenses but must prevent interference with local services. These transmitters will be marked in the catalog as needing FCC approval or license. There are many cheap 2.4 GHz analog video transmitters that would be suitable for the short distances on the field and operate in experimental bands that do not require a license. Those teams that are considering using a camera should view the video from teams that have already tried this approach to see if a camera would be suitable for your use before investing in the equipment.
Above all, camera systems need to be inspected by robot inspectors to insure safety for the field and personnel as well as correct use of electrical power systems and wiring.

We placed a camera on our robot last year and the video quality was pretty nice because it was mounted low. This was during a practive match at WMR and… needless to say, we ended up on our backs the rest of the match after auton. I’m sure there wouldn’t have been great footage if we had been defended against.

Im on board with this, makes the event more interesting, what if the HP’s job is to relay something from the feild to the drive team, sort of like a secondary satellites or something, that would really enhance the action on the feild

i think it would be really cool to see something like on a controll system(in the furture). all FRIST has to do is make the live nasa feed be able to zoom in cabilites. it would be neat to have a live feed from one of teh robots.

We might be able to used the vex camera out of the new kit to use out on the field. Maybe on both frc fields and vex fields.