Scouting Autonomous Paths - 2020

Hello everyone,
A recurring topic that needs to be addressed when it comes to scouting is figuring out how to effectively scout and analyze autonomous paths. Every year it is important to scout autos, but up until this year it has seemed less important to know the exact routes robots take (including opponents’ paths). This year, our team, and I’m sure many others, are eager to scout autonomous paths this year to have more information coming into a match. But, we’re having difficulties figuring out the best way to go about collecting and analyzing information that scouters can easily do. Thoughts, ideas, suggestions?

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It depends on your event, but Zebra Motionworks could be an option - trackers placed on robots at participating events provide location data that can be scraped from TBA.

On a more low-tech level, I think you might be better off talking to your alliance partners’ drive teams before the match/in queue about rather than scouting it. They’ll probably want to know yours, too, and some teams have multiple autonomous routines, making it important to be clear on which one they’re taking.

Given that there isn’t defense permitted in autonomous this year, I’d be less concerned about where your opponents are going.

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Not sure if I agree with that reading of G3. I read it as saying that you’re fine to hit opposing robots during auto as long as you don’t break the plane of their initiation line.


I agree that this is an easy option for many teams, but our team feels like there has to be a pretty simple way to scout auto paths to have data for playoffs and auto compatibility.

Ehh, there really isn’t a simple one. To overlay autonomous routes, you have a few options that come to mind:

  • Zebra data, if available at your event
  • Some kind of touchscreen interface to draw it (and how accurately?), which starts at around $40 per scouting seat before we even discuss infrastructure (software development, cases, wall charging, USB battery packs, etc)
  • Managing transparencies between scouts and trying to overlay them manually

Then you have to create some actionable data from all that and get it to your drive team.

From my perspective, it’s on the wrong end of the Pareto principle–you’ll be spending the 80% part of your effort on that last 20%.


A simple, one sentence maximum “what did the team do in auto?” question is probably enough. Train your scouts to be specific with this.

Bad: Team scored 5 power cells
Good: Team started in middle, crossed the line, and scored 5 power cells in the lower port

Knowing their exact path isn’t that helpful for match planning purposes. You want to know where they can start from and where they are better starting from. Couple the descriptive data with the team’s stated preference and you have yourself a solid strategy plan.


Our team has a section of our match scouting sheet dedicated to autonomous paths. We have our scouters simply draw a line and trace the path that the robot follows during auto and tally the number of balls scored in where. While this does seem like a complicated process, we have had success and accurate data over the years using this method.


Fair point - technically speaking, it is legal. Practically speaking, though, I’m skeptical of a robot to defend another when both are autonomous, and a Tech Foul if you mess up is a pretty strong deterrent.

Just wondering, is that on paper or electronic?

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i think it is paper

If our team is going against BB8, and we’ve got a speedy trenchrunner on our alliance, I’d line 'em up with the friendly trench and send 'em through. When BB8 comes to collect the Power Cells, they’ll be met with Tech Fouls and a busted auto mode.

Tall order. You have farther to drive and 3 balls and then under a trench to navigate. BB8 will be long gone, I suspect.

In the video they are leaving with those 2 PCs about 1.5 seconds into auto.

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The fact that you can start on the edge of the bumper really gives BB8 a head start.

How accurate has your pathing been and have you had any issues with data quality? Not sure id trust the data with this without having them dedicated to specifically tracking it.

For events that make use of ZEBRA, this could a big help in auto tracking.

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Yes, we do our scouting on paper and then enter our data into excel

How do you enter the auto paths into excel?

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I should’ve been more specific. All quantitative data is entered into an excel sheet. Our team really only uses the drawn auto paths to determine how much variability teams have in auto as well as auto consistency. As mentioned above, the auto paths are used a lot in discussion with other teams and in the creation of match strategies.


After talking it over with the strategy team, we’ve decided to move away from scouting exact paths (for now). We’re gonna use pit scouting to determine what autos a team has.

We’re just gonna ask general questions like:
• where do you like to start?
• approximately when do you shoot?
• about how many autos do you have?
• where do you collect power cells?

I’m not going to tell you why you shouldn’t pit scout data you can just observe in the match because there’s a lot of content about that already on this forum. That being said, some feedback on the questions:

This is mostly good. Asking a team what they are comfortable with is one of the only effective things about matches that you can find out from pit scouting. That being said, maybe consider “where are you capable of starting from?” Teams that have a prefrence but mutliple options will be sure to tell you.

Not sure that this is helpful. If you ask a team at the start of the event, they don’t know yet. You’ll get bad data. Plus, I would measure results. If a team scores 5 power cells in auto consistently, it doesn’t matter when they score them, imo.

I’d remove “about.” If a team has more auto programs than they can count, there’s a serious problem. Most teams will have between 0 and 3 options, with very few teams having more than that - at the start of the event, at least.

I guess, but this is really easy to match scout. One of the easiest things to match scout, in fact.

How would you go about scouting “where” each team picks up from? It seems like if you could do that, then you would have all the information you need.

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