(The following is a personal analysis of week 1, day 1 (of qualifications), from a FIRSTer with 4 years of driving experience who has competed in 8 regionals, winning 3 golds, a silver and competing in the elimination bracket every competition; and competing in 2 Championships, competing in the elimination bracket for our division both times as well as attending a regional and a championship purely as a spectator.)
(Also: I write this knowing I left some things out, needs something to talk about for day 2 (of qualifications & finals)! )
Week 1: Day one (Of qualifications) – Let the games begin!**
Today was the start of qualification matches for week 1 of regional competitions! Personally, via webcasts I observed significant portions of the Peachtree Regional, Washington DC Regional and Traverse City District Competition. I also had small samplings of the Kettering University District Competition and the Greater Kansas City Regional. All told I estimate I observed somewhere around 80 matches. Of these matches I recorded scores, noted hangings and successful autonomous modes for 48 matches. Here’s some info about what I found:
The scores were low. 7 matches of 48 (14.58%) ended with a score of 0-0. Low scores were definitely to be expected as it is the first day of the first week of regional competition; however the scores were very low. I will expand on the numbers a bit more later on.
Most bots lacked a mechanism for ball control, and most of the ones that did had limited success, I can think of only 2 robots I saw whose ball control mechanism worked successfully and reliably over more than 1 match. Ball control will be key. Those that lacked ball control often came at the balls from wherever they currently were instead of coming in following a line that would point them towards the goal. This resulted in many ball being pushed into the side barriers, especially around the goals. This also resulted in many bots riding up on the balls as they tried to push them into the goals while scraping along the wall. Decent kicking capabilities were present in a sizeable portion of the robots. The amount of goals scored via kicking as opposed to pushing into the goal where similar, with the pushing method being used more often. No balls were pushed over humps, a vast majority of those who attempted to (intentionally or accidently) ended up unable to move forward or on top of the ball. The balls must be kicked over the humps.
(NOTE: Some regional competitions did not have audio and since I was watching up to 3 matches at once, focusing on the field, and lacking audio in most cases this section will not assess human player penalties) Penalties were a deciding factor on a large majority of the matches. With goals be few and far between and penalties being worth the same amount or more than a goal, it is no surprise. The most common penalty was G46 BALL Penetration Restriction, many robots ended up with balls stuck underneath them; most times this penalty was incurred by the same robot multiple times in a match, not throughout the whole alliance. Teams should make sure no balls can get under their robot. Another repeated penalty was G30, usually due kickers being stuck in extended positions or lift mechanisms outside the robot volume while not in contact with the tower.
A majority of the robots did not or could not cross over the bump. There was no apparent “best” drive system for traversing the bump. Most robots that moved between zones went through the tunnel. The drive systems of the robots varied greatly, with many highly customized drive systems appearing. Mecanum wheels where more popular than usual appearing one more than one robot per match on average. Bots with mecanum wheel did not obviously perform better than other drive system, more time and study will be needed to come to a conclusion on the effectiveness of mecanum. The same can be said of other omni-type drives such as swerve, none of the swerve steering bots preformed significantly over other bots, but again I would give more time to reach a conclusion on this. One thing I would like to note is that I think the success of a omni-type drive is largely dependent on the control system and the capabilities of the drive. Other popular drives were standard 4 wheel, standard tank and 8 wheel drives. Overall, it was mostly standard 4 wheel bots making it over the bump. Tipped robots were common with an approximate average of 1 robot between every 1-2 matches. A majority of the robots toppled while traversing the bump. One particular strategy used again bots that took a long time to cross the bump was to sit on the other side of the in hopes of either blocking the robot from crossing, letting it tip over as it fell down onto a corner of the blocking robot and waiting for a robots front end to be in the air while crossing the bump and the tipping them over backwards. While this was a defensive strategy that worked I believe it should and will be avoided due to the potential of it to be interpreted as a malicious action and incur a penalty due to G36 (via tipping) and G38a which carried the possibility of a red card.
For the first day of the first week or competition there was a large amount of defense played. Defensive bots were very effective. Some of the most common defensive strategies involved pushing other robots with less lower friction drive around, parking in front of goals, and parking in front of a tunnel. The latter strategy was particularly effective against teams with no kicking robots, effectively blocking any balls from getting to the goals. With such effective defense being played in the first day of competition, it will have a significant role to play in the days and weeks to come.
Suspended and/or elevated robots were a rare sight at the end of most matches. I witnessed no suspended robots. The most common elevation method was some type of a winch, with the hook to grasp the bar delivered in various ways. It was a fairly even split between the number of robots that winched up while on the hump and from on the ground. Many teams attempting to elevate had trouble grasping the tower. Many robots extended while in contact with the tower prior too the FINALE as allowed by rule G30. However, all these robots waited until the FINALE period to elevate, many running out of time to elevate or getting stuck and needing to lower to retry. Teams extending to elevate before the FINALE should keep in mind that there is no rule restricting elevation before the FINALE and should attempt to elevate as soon as they decide to get in contact with the tower and extend or grasp the tower, it will save them the average 10-20 seconds of waiting and increase the chances of a successful elevation. Non winch using elevation robots, IE robots that grasped a bar and rotated their base into the air had similar success to winching bots, most did not succeed due to lack of time, they could increase their effectiveness by leaving more time to get in position and elevate. There were also a handful of ramp robots witnessed, none successfully elevated another robot; more time will be needed to assess the effectiveness of ramp robots.
Now let’s look at a few numbers.**
Of the 48 matches I viewed recorded data for the average score per alliance was 1.91667 points. The lowest score was (a fairly common) 0 and the highest score was 8, giving a range of 8 points. (I am aware there were matches with higher scores than 8 points, this is purely based of data from matches I watched and recorded) Of the 48 matches only 13 matches had any points scored in autonomous (27.08%) and of the 96 alliances from those matches only 14 scored in autonomous (14.28%). The average points scored during successful autonomous modes per alliance was 1; meaning 1 robot scored 1 point. While this data was not recorded, I estimate from the matches I watched that on average 2 robots per match attempted autonomous, which is 1/3 of the robots witnessed attempting autonomous. With 1/3 of bots attempting autonomous and 14 being successful, that means that about 14 out of 96 (96 comes from 48 matches * 6 robots * 1/3 attempting) autonomous attempts were successful, giving a success rate of 14.58%. Of the 48 matches only 5 ended with a sufficiently elevated robot, and never more than 1 per match, so the percent of matches in which elevations were present was only 10.416%
As you can see there are very few elevations and very few successful autonomous modes. However, when taken in relation to the average number of point scored per match, a successful elevation can easily swing the outcome of a match and a successful autonomous with only one ball scored gets you halfway to the average score. I expect the two to be particularly useful this week and over the next few weeks. However as later regional competitions take place I expect scores due to tele-op goals to steadily increase which might make elevating less of a game changer. Autonomous may or may not be a game changer, with time autonomous modes will likely get progressively better, but depending on the magnitude to which they increase in reliability and performance they may or may not remain game changers, more time will have to be given to properly conclude.
All of the data.
There is match score data available for every week 1 regional competition except the New Jersey Regional. Here are the average scores per alliance:
San Diego Regional: 1.9824
Washington DC Regional: 1.40678
Peachtree Regional: 1.62281
Bayou Regional: 1.93023
Greater Kansas City Regional : 2.2971
BAE Granite State Regional: 2.59259
Finger Lakes Regional: 2.52941
Autodesk Oregon Regional: 2.27419
Traverse City District Competition: 2
Kettering University District Regional: 2.76829
Grand Total: 2.12523 points scored per alliance per match
With an average of 2.12523 points per alliance I would say I had a fairly accurate sampling from my matches watched, and most of the analysis should be widely applicable. As I was calculating these totals I noticed a general increase in the final match scores in the later matches, so I expect this trend to continue tomorrow and in the weeks to come. Ball control will be paramount in the coming finals and competitions. Driving will also be a key factor, as much time and penalties can be saved as the drivers learn to effectively approach balls and shoot to score. It is possible omni-type drives will shine in the coming days and weeks, but only with an effective driver, it remains to be seen. Defense will be constant and effective and probably escalate for finals and the championship.
I hope this analysis was useful! This is my first attempt at such a thing and I greatly enjoyed it! Please let me know if you found it informative, long winded, shallow, etc as I want to do this better! If anyone spots any inconsistencies in my post, sees something I have missed, has any comments, additional data, opinions, etc… Please post or PM me and let me know! I will try to follow up this analysis after Saturday concludes to provide more comprehensive Week 1 analysis! Also, please suggest things to analyze tomorrow that I missed today so I can make this analysis as comprehensive as possible!
- Austin Steeno (Team 39 and 2837)