I’ve been thinking a lot about FIRST strategy recently. Mostly because I’m in the process of writing a whitepaper on the subject.
One subject that I’ve considered at great length is the “Paradox of Cycling”. If you were to run some calculations at the beginning of the season you will see that picking up frisbees (in the case of 2013) is a lot faster than going to the feeder station every time. However in practice a cycling robot often outscores a pickup robot. This phenomenon was decently balanced out in 2013 but I still feel like it was there. Look, we had three cycling robots win world championships over pickup robots, full court shooters, climbers, and combinations of those.
Now I wouldn’t bring up a phenomenon like this without offering a possible explanation.
I think that it has to do with repetition and rhythm for the drivers. I think that a lot of teams design robots to perform a task and completely overlook the fact that if the drivers can’t make the robot perform the task then it doesn’t do any good to build that robot. A lot of teams solve this problem by building practice robots which helps a lot but doesn’t solve the problem completely.
In 2012 no one really had any choice but to pick up off the floor. But if you go back to the videos from finals on Einstein that year you can watch as 180 and 25 sit there awkwardly for a few moments before deciding where to go to pick up balls.
In 2011 it was event worse. A huge majority of teams built robots to pick up tubes off the floor but then they would just drive around among a sea of tubes looking for the shape that they needed. But the very few teams that built cycling robots would just zip back and forth from the feeder station and not have to worry about finding a tube.
It’s the difference between “hmm, where’s a gamepiece…” and “now back for another!”. With a strategy that revolves around cycling it allows drivers to get into a groove and stay there. It is more relaxing in matches at competitions not having to make a decision for every single gamepiece. It also frees up more brain power for the drivers to handle issues in a match (defense, broken robots, ect.).
What are your thoughts on this subject? Does the “KISS” method apply to strategy or is versatility more important?