While looking at the FRC 95 Build Thread and the recent video posted within of their first robotic hatch cover placements, I was impressed by how tight a gap robots will be required to hit in order to avoid hatch covers falling to the ground.
My question to the community;
How Many Hatch Covers will be on the Ground Per Match? (Weeks 1-3)
Once in a Blue Moon
1-2 per match
2-3 per match
3-5 per match
5+ per match
Something that might also be interesting to discuss is what percentage of teams start the season with a hatch cover pickup and what percentage have one by the end.
Speaking from personal experience, the addition of a gear ground pickup to my team’s 2017 robot dramatically improved our ability to play Steamworks, it will be interesting to see what happens with this game.
I expect to see more Hatch Panels on the ground near the Cargo Ship than anywhere else on the field. The poor sightlines and dividers between Cargo Bays are going to present a significant challenge to teams who either can’t figure out auto scoring or can’t effectively drive with a camera.
The added challenge associated with Hatch Panels on the Cargo Ship vs Hatch Panels on the Rocket may put teams who can score high in a good position. Teams that can score high have 8 “easy” Cargo Bays to score Hatch Panels (3 on the near side of each Rocket and 2 on the front of the Cargo Ship), while “low robots” only have access to 4 “easy” Cargo Bays. You can argue that the left or right side of the Cargo Ship is “easy” if you’re in the left or right driver station, but your margin for error is still smaller than it is on the Rocket.
The tight margins on the Cargo Ship also make me feel like Null Hatch Panels will win the day at early events.
I answered 3-5 Hatch Panels end up on the ground, but I was thinking that would be the number per alliance. I think it’ll be a common sight to see teams, especially early in quals, mis-placing Hatch Panels on the Cargo Ship. If the use of Null Hatch Panels is as high as I think it should be then I can see this number being a bit lower.
With regard to how many teams will have a Hatch Panel ground pickup at the beginning of the season… I bet ~30% of teams or more will have designed for it, with less than half of them being reasonably successful. I also think that floor loading mechanisms become less valuable throughout the season with less teams dropping Hatch Panels as people figure out the game.
At least early on, having the ability to pick up HPs from the ground will be advantageous, especially when it comes to alliance selections. Not having to go back to the loading station (and waste precious seconds) and instead picking up a HP that you/another alliance member dropped near the cargo ship/rocket will not only make you look better to alliance captains but will also probably allow you to (potentially) run more HPs in total during a match.
If we are assuming both sides of the field I am definitely guessing over 5 per match in weeks 1-3. The hatches stick really well to the velcro but because of all the robots I have seen that push off there hatches with pneumatics I believe a ton will miss and hit the ground.
3-5 seems to be a fair assessment of number of hatches on the ground for each match in the early weeks. People are still trying to get their robots tuned to be successful, precise, and accurate. Looking at the MCC I can see how matches could be kept relatively low score because of the hard sight lines. Also teams who cannot place the hatch at an angle and do not line up square to the rocket or cargo ship could end up miss placing panels resulting them being right in front of the port but on the ground. I’d like to emphasis the importance of automation. Having the robot line itself up with vision and only needing a button to be pressed to place the panel will only lead to better scoring and less dropped panels. My team used something like this in 2017 with the gear. The spring would hit a plate that then pushes a limit switch and a process of the cylinders and the gear intake would push the gear to the back. Something like this process this year would be very useful if a team could develop it correctly.
The biggest benefit I see of having the ability to pick up a hatch from the ground is if you have are a robot that can place them high, and your other teammates can only place low. They could shorten rocket cycle times by delivering hatch panels near the rocket for you to use.
While I expect some teams will have a hard time, that Grasshopper video was with a “raw” robot. Not even a simple streaming camera on the robot. Seems to me that a lot of teams should be able to get a simple video feed, which should easy the alignment.
2017’s gear placement was hard even with a camera, because the spike would frequently hit the spokes of the gear.
Consider that our hatch mechanism holds onto the hatch until we’re sure that it’s scored, and we still occasionally dropped them. Other mechanisms that eject with air cylinders or otherwise commit to losing control of the hatch in order to score might be more prone to dropping hatches. Also, our video has no defense. I expect defensive pressure to cause more hatch drops.
While this is true, your video also only scored on the least-forgiving portion of the field. The rocket is far more forgiving to mis-alignment. In the early weeks I suspect that this difference will cause most matches to start with a majority of null hatches, thereby reducing hatches on the ground.