What are the advantages of placing gears vs waiting for them to be lifted?

What are your thoughts on using an active mechanism to independently place gears on the lift pegs vs a passive mechanism that requires the pilot to lift the gear out of the robot. I am seeing pros and cons for both. The active gearing mechanism doesn’t require a pilot present at the the lift and is not impacted by an untrained pilot or one who is inexperienced with your robot. The passive gearing mechanism is more mechanically simple and has a lower chance of failure.

What are your thoughts?

My current leaning is towards a passive mechanism mostly because I don’t see the pilot skill having a significant impact on the game. Even in a full 4-rotor match, pilots will have an average of more than 10 seconds per gear. The only case I see where a passive robot may be left waiting is if an entire alliance of passive gearing robots approaches the airship with gears at the same time. I see the action of pulling the gear up as simple enough where even a completely untrained pilot will have less of a chance of messing up than any active mechanism will have of mechanical/electrical/pneumatic failure.

Sorry about the confusion. My intent was to ask about the strategic differences in robots that can approach the gear peg, leave the gear on the peg, and drive away vs those that require the pilot to pull the gear up with the robot still present by the peg. An example of the first would be a robot that moves an arm or flap to drop the gear on the peg (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TvDxyMOSMZ0). An example of the second would be a robot with nothing more than a box with an open top to hold to gear (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TvDxyMOSMZ0).

I caught my mistake. I think you might want to look at the point on the end of the peg. It is shown on page 44 of https://firstfrc.blob.core.windows.net/frc2017/Drawings/2017FieldComponents.pdf . It is shown assembled on page 29. You might be able to have a passive system that uses the point to your advantage so you can drop the gear without the pilot having to lift the lift.

If you are going the gear handling route, the strategic question you should be asking yourself is “What mechanism for handling gears (both retrieving and placing) is the absolute fastest?” Scoring with gears is about reducing overall cycle time. Start with the baseline concept that every other gear handling team has seen: a passive pocket which accepts a gear delivered by a HP, and then driving to the peg, letting the pilot lift it out of the pocket. Ask yourself, “How can we move twice as many gears in teleop as that baseline team?”

Going off of this idea (and what I think Todd might be hinting is that), your Gear retrieval design may dictate your Gear placing system. Just a hunch, but I’d say having an active Gear retrieval will save more time per cycle than an active Gear placement. But I do agree that having to rely on another team’s human player to correctly and quickly perform half of your primary scoring objective is a little terrifying. So far, I really like the designs that, instead of actively moving the Gear onto the Lift, actively disengage the robot from the Gear once the Gear is placed. (So basically, moving the robot away from the Gear and not the Gear away from the robot.)

If you need PILOT action (activate the lift) to remove the gear from the Robot, then your robot has to sit around waiting for the PILOT. This requires careful timing during Autonomus. What happens if all 3 robots require the PILOT to remove the gear?

The alternative is some type of mechanism to disengage the gear from the robot. It makes the device more complex.

In general, the more you Robot can do, the better off you are.

If you have to wait for the pilot to lift the peg to remove the gear your wasting valuable time, especially if the pilot doesn’t see your robot sitting there. If there was 3 pilots and not 2 in the airship having the pilot life the gear out of your robot might not be a bad play. But every second your robot is sitting there waiting is a second of game play you’ve lost.

Something that cannot be discounted is the fact that the PILOT can also fulfill the same role that the SPY did in 2016. Having a human looking down on the robot as it places the peg can do wonders for your alignment and speed of delivery.

One consideration that my team members brought up yesterday is the possibility that, if you have an active mechanism that drops a gear onto a peg and drives away, there is apparently nothing to stop an opponent defender from stealing the gear or knocking it off the peg before the pilot can lift it away.

I do not personally ascribe much importance to this because (a) I think your pilot is likely to be paying attention and will lift it away quickly, and (b) having a defending robot sitting around waiting to pounce on a gear once you’ve dropped it, in that tiny window of time before your pilot gets to it, seems like a waste of defensive resources, but it’s something to consider.

I am still struggling with any broad appeal for an active mechanism. If the main benefit is speed, the one clear place it has a potential advantage is high-level autonomous matches. If you’re designing for a high competitive level in which all 3 robots could place gears at essentially the same* time in autonomous and then potentially immediately move on to do something else, it helps to not need a pilot on hand. This will be exceedingly rare: even at high levels, many alliances will choose to run 2-gear autonomous routines or have their 2nd pick deliver the gear and not move from there (thus they can wait until a pilot is free). But if you think you want to leave the airship in autonomous faster than 2 pilots can take all 3 gears–and you think you’ll be in that position–then active release is clearly the correct answer.

Outside of that, the time differential is less impressive. The likelihood that all 3 robots are placing a gear simultaneously in teleop is minimal and not preferable for most traffic flow plans. You also don’t want to leave without confirming you have the pilot’s attention, and the gap between attention and lifting needs to be minimized anyway just in terms of pilot scoring. This is a year where these students absolutely must be top-notch; there are strong cases in which I’d pull a team off my picklist if their HPs (pilots/loaders) were underperforming.

As far as reliability, the main issue is that if you’re trying not to drop something (and you are), it’s much safer to have the reciever lift it up rather than the giver drop it off. This I hope is less of an issue though, since if you’re really operating at a level where active is important, you should already have the engineering capability to ensure this and weigh it in your risk-benefit.

Basically this isn’t to say that active gear releases are flatly pointless. I do think they’re pointless or detrimental for most teams. But if you’re actually engineering an active mechanism that will be faster and more reliable than an Nth percentile pilot you’d encounter in that given situation-- and you have nothing better to put that energy toward–more power to you. For the rest of us schmucks, the appeal of a big “Hey look at me!” LED light/sound show is a lot more straightforward to me. (Red = “I’m coming at you!”, Green = “Lift! I’m ready and I have someplace to be!”)

One thing to note on pilots collecting gears.

I don’t think there is anything stating the pilot HAS to collect the gears right away or that you can’t have more than one gear on the lift.

Pilots can quickly lift a gear to disengage a robot and then drop it to grab the next lift.

Also, was there anything prohibiting a pilot from grabbing two lifts at once? Haven’t bothered to check that either.

Yes, I guess an opponent can knock the gear off or something, but realistically I don’t see that happening.

A passive mechanism (pilot lift) requires a fairly large, clear path for the lift peg to pass up thru the robot. You are likely to drop the gear if the tip of the peg gets caught on something in your robot. An “active” release reduces this risk.

. What else are you going to do in auto? Place a gear and shoot your 10 balls? Ifso shoot from the lift into the boiler.
Granted you would be limited to 2 options for gear placement

There are many things you could do in auto that would have strategic significance in this game.