Useful Information for Drivers on Dashboard

What are some useful things to put on the dashboard for drivers? For example, camera streams, gyro heading, etc.? What do you guys have on your dashboards, and is there anything unique that your programmers do in terms of driver feedback?

1 Like

Have a look at this thread.

From my post in that thread:

  • Your drivers will be most efficient if they never are required to remove their eyes from the robot during the match to look down at the driver’s station. Use tactile feedback, if your controllers have that function, or status lights (LED light strips work well) on the robot as visual indicators.

We have also previously used “rumble” in the controller as a form of tactile driver feedback.

3 Likes

Generally, we use the dashboard for software team feedback. Maybe one or two LARGE indicators for the drivers so that they can see it without looking down, but like Todd said, every time the driver looks at the dashboard means they aren’t looking at the robot.

I generally agree with the “eyes on the field” sentiment. Don’t create tasks for the driver that require looking both at the field and at the dashboard.

Some situations when the driver might transition from the field to the dashboard.

In Steamworks, some lifts were difficult to see. Teams often transitioned from looking at the field to looking through the webcam to perform fine positioning of the robot to load the gear on the lift. But this was a full transition from looking at the field to looking through the camera feed.

Another example is troubleshooting. You can use flashing indicators on the robot to tell the driver to look at the dashboard for more detailed state about what’s wrong on the robot.

2 Likes

The Dashboard can be used by the second driver or coach who then verbally relay important information to the Driver, like “you have the ball”.

2 Likes

That thread is super helpful! I’ll be converting my old think pad to a dedicated driver station now :wink:

I’ll definitely add some haptic feedback, and I’ll see if our electrical team can wire up some led strips. What would you suggest for when the robot is obscured by a field element, for example if it is on the opposite side of the field? Cameras are the only option at that point, correct?

Probably, yes. But run them in as low resolution as you possibly can and still get the job done. Flying FPV drones in the off-season will give you good practice for driving your bot using only a camera.

2 Likes

We output several things to our dashboard, some especially useful ones in my opinion are:

  • Whether or not the Limelight has a target lock (can be done by simply reading the “tv” value)
  • Camera for driver vision
  • Limelight display showing what is currently being targeted
  • Whether or not flywheels (or other mechanisms that need to ramp up speed) have reached their operating speed
  • Whether or not certain aspects of the robot are enabled (climber etc.)
  • If your team has several different control modes (i.e. different controls for endgame), display which mode you are currently in
1 Like

I’m not going to say our solution is best, but here is what we do, listed in order of priority:

  1. Cameras: Make them huge; they are the main thing the drivers will look for. Some teams use small screens on stands at eye level to make these more accessible.

  2. Rumble: use it. Rumble the driver in control of the shooter when it is up to speed, when the targets are lined up, when automatic actions are done, etc. It can even be used for more than one indicator. You can do left rumble, right rumble, both rumble, gentle rumble, fast rumble, etc. You can even vary the pattern. Like others have said, this is a great way to show information without distracting the driver.

  3. LEDs on the robot: a lot of teams use light strips to show status. For an example, see 1690’s robot this year; they use an RGB led strip, switching between the three colors with flashes to show some sort of status. You can also do this without any extra wiring simply by flashing the lights on your limelight if you have one. Fairly good way to show data without looking down, although limited to visibility. Have an indicator on the dashboard for everything you have a light strip for, but use the light strip when you can see.

  4. Indicators: use “show as” to make them easy to read. Have booleans for if the target is visible to the limelight and number bars for how many balls the robot thinks it has. Since we usually split chassis driving and intaking for one driver and shooter/magazine control on the other driver, most of the indicators are for the “systems operator” driver. The chassis driver focuses only on the field and cameras.

  5. Debug statements. Only have a few of them. Put them small and off to the side, or in a separate shuffleboard tab, and have someone on the drive team (we usually use the coach) who knows what they mean. If the robot stops working during a match, you will want to use them. But put these somewhere where they don’t clutter your main dashboard displays or reduce the size of the cameras.

2 Likes

Being a driver myself I believe that you should have a camera stream on the dashboard and if you have things like beam breaks for detecting balls you should have those on the dashboard also to assist the driver. And if you have a flywheel the rpm count could also be useful. Also an autonomous mode picker.

3 Likes

This is perfect! Thank you so much. I will probably do all of these things. Would it be confusing to the driver to have so many indicators using rumble?

Also, I was considering measuring the current drawn by the drive motors compared to the acceleration of the robot to determine whether or not the robot is pushing (against a wall or other bot) and vibrate the controller correspondingly. Would this be useful?

Ask your drivers. Just like controls, displays and other feedback should be up to them. They’re your customers/users. Expect them to request changes, even during an event!

3 Likes

That would probably be a good idea :sweat_smile: