RFID - Is it a GOOD idea or a BAD idea

Oops :grimacing:

You might want to write a whitepaper and publish it. Right now, most of what we see is best described as: “I demand strongly urge that we move to RFID” with no particular specifics–for example, it’s actually never stated WHAT is being tracked! Are we tracking robots, game pieces, human players (yes, in some years, human players can score points too), field staff, all of the above?

I’m not in charge of anything with field or game design. If I were, I would want the following:

  1. What are we tracking?
  2. What devices are we using to track this?
    2a) If specific devices are TBD, then what are the specifications we need to look for?
    2b) If there are several options, what are the pros/cons?
  3. What other alternatives might exist for accomplishing the same objective?
  4. Why do we need to track this? [side note: In the specific situation you’ve laid out, are we doing this for teams’ scouting, or are we doing it for overall score, or are we tracking individual team scoring because we think that’s a good thing to do?]
  5. Has somebody, including yourself, tried this before? Include details.*
  6. Approximately how many devices would we need for each event playing [most recent game], and how much might that cost (or could there be a discount/donation)?**

*The card system was first trialed at IRI 2004. It didn’t make FRC until 2010. Video review is available at a few offseasons but isn’t available at regionals/districts.
**My understanding is that a very definitely non-zero amount of the current field electronics are either donated or reduced-price, from Rockwell Automation.

Thanks. I deifinitely recommend taking at least a peak at the “XY Problem” - it’s an easy cognitive bias to fall into, especially when you’re really excited about a solution. I’ve done it many times myself.

So, what I was trying to get at with the second question - when I look over the volume of the responses, they seem very much in favor of why RFID is best. I had interpreted that as “we need to do RFID”. But, by your answer here, that was an incorrect interpretation.

So let’s keep digging: The end goal is universally admirable: Raise the floor for all teams with their scouting abilities.

What’s the most viable way to improve scouting for all teams, in the short/medium/long terms?

To figure out how to do this, I think it’s worthwhile to take stock of the overall situation first - asking and answering (as a group) questions related to the proposal overall.

We’ve seen lots of info on the advantages of a mass-RFID deployment, but what are the disadvantages?

A lot of other folks have mentioned scouting alliances to join resources with other teams. Why have these worked or not worked in particular cases?

Which portions of the scouting-effectively discussions are applicable to all teams, and what challenges are there in rollouts?

Are there other viable options?

What unique factors are teams experiencing that make the solutions that work for other teams not viable?

Then. All those answers taken together - we start to understand which option is best.

Again, not to say the technical details of an RFID solution shouldn’t be discussed. I live for these details :slight_smile: . But, before anyone jumps to “RFID is the best option”, there’s a broader discussion to be had.


Gonna be blunt again, but isn’t that the reason that you brought this up in the FUN Discord and briefly touched upon tonight? It brings us back to the point that you’re not mad that the game elements aren’t being tracked, it’s that you’re mad that your robots shooting performance was undervalued by alliance captains and you believe that if teams had an accurate count of shots taken, you would have been picked.
But as we explained to you, your lack of ability to climb was a bigger factor in why you weren’t selected rather than your ability to score however many shots you say you were able to.


Hey RFID is awesome. Just ya know, not for this.


·My cats have RFID tags. They are cyborgs.


Sorry, meant it in this scenario :slightly_smiling_face:

I did not know the reference XYProblem, but this issue is always part of what every project does. Whatever you want to call this process. In this case I am not asking how to do RFID… I know how. I am asking for the alternatives and were doing that. I am countering with answers… so I guess you are saying were doing well in our discussion?

very good points marshall, there are many reasons RFID can make our game better.

You count enough worms, you build a better worm counter. That’s engineering in a nutshell. But you start out counting worms. The question is whether OP is delivering a better worm counter? Speaking as someone who has been at this a while, I’m skeptical.


Nothing like gasoline to put out a fire, eh?

I have a few main points to add or summarize, and a bit of personal experience.

  • Firstly, RFID would not enhance gameplay, based on the proximate cause that a good robot is needed in the first place.
  • Secondly, big teams are generally good teams, and will pick good teams, and big teams are able to afford large-scale scouting, so RFID is mostly irrelevant to getting picked for playoffs.
  • Thirdly, this year, my team ranked 6th (rather unexpectedly) with no real plans for scouting. Other teams were happy to talk with us and share their data (and suck up to us to be in playoffs, but that’s a different topic).
  • Fourthly, the year my team ranked 10th and moved up to become alliance captains, we had no scouting at all, so we relied on OPR and it served us well. Which brings me back to my first point: a good robot is needed in the first place to be chosen.
  • Fifthly, the year my team did do well, but got crummy alliance partners, we landed poorly in the rankings, but because we were a higher scoring robot, it showed well in scouting data and through the OPR. A fallback of the OPR is it doesn’t account for performance against defensive robots, but it’s still a good indicator.

Bottom line is, a good robot, with good data sources, leads to good playoff matches. Oversimplified robotics.

No, he’s not saying that.

From the info link:

  • After much interaction and wasted time, it finally becomes clear that the user really wants help with X, and that Y wasn’t even a suitable solution for X.

The problem occurs when people get stuck on what they believe is the solution and are unable step back and explain the issue in full.

Let me break that down for you, and correct me if I’m wrong here:

From what the report is on the previous interaction: You have a hard time scouting because you have a small team. Also, you did fairly well but weren’t picked and/or didn’t make good picks. This is your X.
You want to use RFID to track scoring by individual robots so that it’s easier to scout. This is your Y.

Additionally, you’re assuming that larger teams track every ball scored by every robot. I wouldn’t say that that’s 100% accurate, by any means–they’ll generally at least TRY but they won’t always get there, and I’m pretty sure they know it.

Personally… I was on a small team in high school. We simply “recruited” (and by that I mean “press-ganged”) anybody with the team who was in the stands to scout. Parents, younger siblings, mentor significant others… I believe they later formed scouting alliances. We didn’t bother tracking every shot fired/made unless it was relatively simple/single-game-piece-carry games. We’d take a “best guess” and rate how good the shooter was. This was in a game with unlimited ammo storage (as long as it was in the robot volume).

I’ve already stated my case on where I stand with RFID: More details are required. You’re claiming industry experience, but bear in mind that not everybody has that. So please, add details. Write a whitepaper.

If you actually want HELP with the other issues, then you may want to search and then ask again. At this point, this particular thread is going nowhere.


Yes having good data I think helps teams make good choices, that is the purpose of scouting. You want to twist it around for some reason and attack me for it. The game is the game, but if we can make it (the game) so that it is more fair to small teams, and young teams. Then why not do it? I know the big teams dont want it. As you guys pointed out in discourse, 90% of the teams that have no idea about how the big teams use this information as an advantage to win. That is all this is really about.

I honestly want to try and help you here, but I’m gonna need a rephrase on what you mean by “the game is the game but if we can make the game more fair we should.”

Anyhow, if I’m reading that reply correctly, then what you’re saying is that you believe this game unfairly catered towards bigger teams because they were able to more effectively record the actions taken by robots on the field during any given match?

I agree, they should put RFID in all game pieces, robots, field objects, and voulenteers. I want to know when those pesky refs throw flags at us by modeling their arm movements dang it!

EDIT: I would compromise with just chipping up @EricH. He’s the one who causes the most trouble anyway


Time to keep this thread on topic

As a reminder:
Good posts: RFID implementation for tracking of game pieces. How to make scouting easier for small teams
Off Topic: Cats, patting yourself on the back for throwing the thread off topic because you want to avoid a serious discussion, comparing the OP to a troll using clever euphenisms.


I am saying that most teams, have no idea who they are picking durring finals. They just have to guess and take that teams word. I use big teams to categorize but I mean teams that have access to deep/full scouting statistics, that probably is misleading, big teams. But certainly if you are a big team you could afford to put people out for every game. Still a small team that knows the game could build that structure if they were not too small to manage it. They know how the game works and with that knowledge they use scouting to pick the right teams…they do not need to guess… they know what a team can do.

I’m going to point out that the “too small to manage it” number is very definitely less than 10 students.

Personal experience, doing scouting for an Einstein-level team.

What it takes is three specific things:

  1. Knowing the game and making a good strategy. This starts at Kickoff.
  2. Developing a data intake system, whether through scouting alliances or as a single team. This may take a few years of one or two dedicated individuals, or it may take one or two years with many, and it might be new every year or customized every year.
  3. Distillation of the data to a usable form.

#3 is the hard part. “Usable form” can mean different things to different teams, and even different things to the same team at different points in the competition. So part of the thing here is determining WHAT data you need and WHEN. And looping in your strategy during picking–I’ve heard of several teams that have 2-3 different picklists for their second pick alone based on what they’re looking for.

@saikiranra I don’t call more than 1/4 of the fouls. :stuck_out_tongue:


Exactly… I do not want our kids to be out counting shots… I want them thinking about what the numbers mean. That is what RFID could help smaller teams achive.

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We counted shots, though not individually (more of a “if they fire a stream and they all go in, give them a 5/5” sort of deal). And this was back before smartphones–we were using paper.

I still haven’t seen anything from you that resembles a proposal/whitepaper/anything other than “I’ve been in the field for 30 years, we need RFID”. Would you mind at least trying?