Why do teams pit scout and what to they do with the data they get from pit scouting. Im trying to find out what to do with the pit scouting information we get.
My favorite reason to do pit scouting?
Teams do clever things on their robot. They come up with better solutions than we did to some problems. I’d like our students to learn those things.
I also often walk around talking to teams to learn those things.
Now, the stuff that wins comps.
Our pre-quals-match scouting isn’t super strong yet, so most of our pit scouting will be mostly used for our elims selection.
Picture of the robot is useful. Helps keep the robots organized when you discuss them.
I like to know things about DT, especially if the robot is being discussed as a 2nd pick. Things like HD cots swerve, and KOP chassis are positives.
If we had stronger pre-match scouting, if want to know what their strategy is on the field…and what they like to attempt. Things like traversal climbs, low goal, high goal, etc.
For our team, since a lot of our data is from scouting during qual matches, pit scouting is mainly used just to interact with other teams. We also take a picture of all the robots because it’s helpful when you want to know which team is what robot. It’s also just nice in general to see what other teams are doing with their robots.
Typically we use pit scouting for what others have said here. Get a picture of your robot for reference and give our students a chance to walk around and interact with teams and see solutions that we did not make. This year however at all of our prechamps events there was either limited access to the pits or our team could not travel in full force to them. So the education/interaction part was not as used as we would typically have it.
From the actual scouting perspective we use pit scouting to create the team profile so to speak. I always kind of treat it like a character/class description in a video game or TTRPG.
We use pit scouting to create the overall image of your robot so for this year it was:
How many motors and what type are on the drivetrain?
Can you intake cargo, if so how?
If you have a cargo intake can you retract it?
Can you drive under the low bar?
Can you score in the High Hub, Low Hub, or Both?
What is the highest rung you are designed to get to?
We then have a bumper quality check on a scale of 1-5, I am firmly in the camp that a team who takes the time to make good bumpers took the time to put care into the rest of the robot so if you have nice bumpers and a solid mounting of them I typically do not have to be worried about the rest of your robot holding up.
These data points give us the ability to know what the capabilities of our alliance and opposing alliances are before we have multiple data points. It also lets us know the difference between someone who has not shown something due to strategy vs someone who can’t do it in general. They also let us take a look at the depth of an event capability wise. For example South Florida had 33 teams and 8 who designed to get to traversal this told us that during quals at South Florida we were likely to get another traversal climber on our alliance but come elims only 4 alliances have a chance at double traversal. In comparison Orlando had 58 teams and 10 teams who had designed to get to traversal this was the opposite where even though there is more Traversal climbers we are less likely to be paired with them because of their ratio to overall teams and 5 of the alliances could be double traversal capable.
Student manager speaking:
I’ve always felt that pit scouting was an excellent way to make friends. There’s not many places that robotics kids can go to find like-minded people. Furthermore, it also helps to know that if something on our robot breaks, there’s somebody that we can ask for help; conversely, we can help them too. Which I feel aligns with the whole point of FIRST.
In terms of strategy and things, it always helps (both same- and opposing- allianced teams) to have spoken to people who worked on the robots to know what the most effective way to compete would be.
There are a few objective things you can get from pit scouting, like how pushy/fast their drivetrain will be, and basic expectations that can be gotten on practice day to prepare match strategy for quals.
You can also get subjective data, like a general feel for how sturdy their robot is.
My team doesn’t formally pit scout, but we do walk around, ask questions where we have them, etc. At the end of practice day, I noted which teams had which mechanisms and talked to the people who still had staffed pits about how well their scoring worked. We used that in our match strategy planning. At the end of quals day 1, I walked through and took a close look at sturdiness for the bots I thought would be available as defensive picks, and that information was definitely part of our subjective defense rankings. I definitely wish we used this more formally, and we probably will once our member count recovers from the drop we had during COVID.
Pit scouting is only really useful for objective information. What drivetrain do you have, what is your robot’s weight (I’d still be weary about the truthfulness of answers to this), etc. Many teams will inflate their own abilities when being pit scouted so as to look better for alliance selections, so many of the common pit scouting questions, like about cycling, are useless.
The other good type of pit scouting is bumper scouting. Most of the time, if a team puts in good work to make their bumpers nice, they will put in the same effort for other parts of their robot.
At least for our team, we use pit scouting to come up with a basic match strategy for our first matches where we won’t have any scouting data, and also use it for a picklist. The points about teams inflating their abilities is true, but you can usually get a general idea of what teams are the best from it. We usually get robot weights from the inspection board, since that is public information, and generally more accurate than asking the people in the pits. I’ll also second the interacting with other teams point mentioned earlier.
We also try to pit scout each team once before quals, and then once per day of competiton after that, just to see if anything has changed, and then after we see them get damaged in a match. This is because we want to see how serious the damage is, if they need any help, and if the damage will influence our strategy in any subsequent matches
Pit scouting can be the icing on the cake of your scouting data to determine things that you cannot get from field data, this year in particularly swerve and turrets. This year we asked a few set of questions
• do you use the same drive team every match?
• how many batteries did you bring?
• what drivetrain are you using?
• do you have a turret?
• does your intake go outside of your frame perimeter?
• Are you using phuematics?
• can we take a picture?
I would avoid asking questions about accuracy because you will just get theoretical data and what’s the point if you are already field scouting them. Asking how many batteries is important because if a team only brought 1-3 that’s probably not enough to last, if they were to get into deep eliminations. Asking about drive team is also important, because some teams alternate drive team members which might mean they are not on the same page as everyone else if they were just alternated in which also = less consistency, not saying it’s a bad thing to alternate drivers but can lead to confusion. Turret , swerve and intake are also good to know when looking at the robot as a whole and if there’s a 3rd robot left that has swerve they could possibly make for a better defender. Ask for a picture because a picture is worth a thousand words and shows you so much more then the questions will. Another note we use the same tablets for field scouting as we do pit scouting and make a list of the teams to divvy out to each person so you don’t get repeats. It’s good to keep questions to yes or no so it is easy to put into the tablets
Different direction -
Pit scouting is a great chance to form bonds between teams in the pits. While we use pit scouting to find out how many team members each team has (we like to cheer for the smallest teams), we also have used this practice to ask important questions like “What is the best dipping sauce for chicken fingers? What about chicken nuggets?”
As others mentioned, maybe you take notes on a drivetrain, but otherwise everything else can be seen on the field of play. Keep it light and keep FIRST fun!
My reasons for not nixing pit scouting (in order):
- get a picture of every robot
- get information we don’t need to collect multiple times (floor intake, idk maybe drivetrain)
- students seeing how other teams do things
I don’t love pit scouting but I do think it is a good thing for students who enjoy it. Even as a high schooler, I saw it’s biggest benefit as younger students seeing other robots.
When we (253) were reviewing our pit scouting form, I found out that our “what’s your favorite boba tea” question is everyone’s favorite (as in both our students and students on other teams).
I’ve come to think:
Match scouting is what the robot does; pit scouting lets you see what the team tried to do.
Ingenious ideas, unfathomable designs, the “what was used to build the robot” comes from pit scouting. If time allowed, i would definitely pit scout all robots at the event, just to try and see how it was built. You can learn a ton just from an image uploaded to tba, and even more from spending a few minutes looking at it. One team’s design might even be used in your next iteration.
Match scouting answers the question - “What did this team do on the field?”
Pit scouting strives to answer the question - “What could this team do if we put them in a scenario they haven’t yet experienced on the field?”
You pit scout so you can meet other teams but also it’s a way to know the theoretical limits of a robot.
yea, before-quals pit scouting doesn’t always provide reliable data, since you are really just asking for expectations, and a lot of things can change during competition. However, I agree with the majority in this thread that pit scouting is a great way to interact with other teams and getting inspiration, even if not for this game then for future seasons. A lot of design conversations start with “I saw this one team last year…”
When I was helping lead some of 1675’s pit scouting we also had “Who’s your favorite superhero and why?” as the final and most popular question, fun for the scouts and (most) teams being interviewed, and good for laughs and stories during scouting meetings
Pit scouting: more than just robots
Quite often completely excluding the robot. You’re literally scouting the pit and the people it contains.
Pit scouting is absolutely worth the effort. Two obvious benefits:
You will be better prepared for robot selection. Basic robot info and pictures are awesome during selection.
Students will learn so much. Telling students to go look at robots just doesn’t seem to work as well as assigning them the mission of pit scouting. Many students really get into it and their knowledge of other ways to build robots explodes.
In addition to pit scouting I also recommend alliance selection scouting. Later in the comp but a few hours before selection identify a small list of first picks and a large list of second picks and go talk to them. Confirm some pit scouting info like weight, ask how their battery is secured, etc… Let them know you are scouting for alliance selection. I have found this extremely helpful for selection both adding and removing teams from our pick list based on these often revealing conversations but also starting our alliance relationship a little earlier is great.
I haven’t read anyone else’s comments (probably a terrible idea), but this is what we do:
We ask teams what do they do on the field to score (AUTO, TELEOP, Endgame).
We then match that data with our team’s matches (alliance partners vs opposing alliance) during qualifying play. It provides the drive team with a starting point during strategy talks during queueing time.
We don’t generally use the data for anything, although the photos are sometimes helpful in our scouting meeting for helping people remember which robot was which (i.e. what team # was the robot they saw doing a cool thing). The main value is in talking to other teams and learning about their robots, and having something for people to do on the first day of comp. We emphasize that the pit scouting questions should be conversation starters, not something to speed-run.