Posted by Joe Ross at 1/17/2001 3:27 AM EST
Engineer on team #330, Beach Bot 2001, from Hope Chapel Academy and NASA/JPL and J&F Machine.
After much deliberation, I have concluded that the best teams are not going to be the ones that can load the most balls, or balance the goals the best. The best teams are going to be the ones who can effectively communicate the strengths of their robot in 20 seconds or less.
This year you have the same time (or less) to decide on a strategy, since most matches won’t last for the full 2 minutes. You also have twice as many teams to strategize with. All this leads to a frenzied period before the match that, unless people are prepared, will turn into a mob scene without anything being done or decided.
From my experiences as a human player and coach, I can tell you that when there were only 2 teams, one team generally did most of the strategy after each team shared their strengths. This team was the one who was either seeded highest, or usually the team that was the best communicator.
My team ran a sort of small-scale simulation. We broke our team into sub-teams of 4 people each and gave each person a description of a robot. They were supposed to come up with a strategy based on those 4 robots. The fastest team was done in 7 minutes, even after being told that there was a hard five minute deadline. This team included the three most important members or our on-the-field strategy team. In other words, if they couldn’t come up with a decent srategy in FIRST’s time limit (probably between 2-5 minutes) then every team will have trouble, unless everyone practices comunication A LOT! The situation is complicated because there isn’t just one person per robot but multiple people per robot.
In short, if you can’t communicate what your robot does well in a very short time (probably 20 seconds or less) your robot probably won’t do much during that round, at least compared to teams with lesser robots but better communication.
The way that I see the on-the-field sessions working, is that each team has somewhere around 20 seconds to describe their robot (focusing on the strengths). After all the teams have shared, it will probably be obvious who knows what is going on and that team or person will be silently thrust into the leadership role. From there, it is imperative that a strategy is decided on quickly and each team knows exaclty what their role is. The matches where the most points are scored will not always be the matches with the best robots, but the ones in which the teams execute their strategy to perfection.
The other thing that should be decided is who handles the contingency plans. Is there a specific “garbage cleaner” robot that can clear the bridge of a fallen robot, or can remove a ball from under the goal? or is this task relegated to the closest robot?
Any comments or things that I missed?
Beach Bot, Team 330