Winning Robot or Quality Robot?

Time for another game of which would you rather have. This is the followup to my chairman’s vs. championship. If anyone even likes these poles let me know and I’ll do them on a regular basis.

Let’s face it, some robots are built very well and don’t win, others win but are not of the highest quality.

Would you rather have a robot that looks and runs very well but does not win, or a robot that looks awful and barely runs, but still wins?

A quality robot may be reliable, but if it can only do one thing well, and which may become useless after say 15 seconds (ie. have good auto mode, rugged, but cannot herd balls, decap or hang) But if it could do almost everything, hang pretty well, herd balls, decap and etc, which has been proven by this year’s competition, the robot breaking every so often, like a snapped cable which could be fixed under 5 minutes, would be good. If it takes over 30 minutes, and you cannot use some other features without it, I’d rather choose the quality robot…

In my opinion it takes a certain amount of quality to have a winning robot. If your bot isnt reliable enough to compete in every match chances are you arent going to be ranked very high even if you win every match you participate in. I think that its hard to seperate the two, if you dont build a bot with enough quality to survive the competition then you wont win anyways.

In my time in FIRST, I’ve built both types of robots. While we’ve never had one that looks awful, per se, we have had some that were definitely just basic robots that could win. Our 2002 and 2003 robots were examples of that. Neither robot had much to it; just a two-speed drive base, and lead screw driven grabber arms (2002) or wings (2003). However, we made division finalist at Nats both times, because we had a simple robot, with good drivers and good strategy.

On the other hand, our 2001 and 2004 bots went the opposite direction. Both times, we tried to do something bigger and fancier: a big, complex arm in 2001, and swerve drive in 2004. While both robots were high-quality (after some work), they were too complex to be successful.

So, in my mind… I’d rather have a winning robot, no matter what it looks like or does. You have to have a good degree of quality, or it won’t win anyways, but you don’t need it to be fancy, either.

This post applies to my Philosophy, KISS Keep It Simple

While i do think that it takes a certain amount of quality to have a winning robot, id much rather have a quality robot then winning robot.
With our 2003 robot, although we had the most sucess ever at nationals (being 5th seed in our division) w/ that robot…it broke just about every match, even if it was jus a minor break it still took time to fix. This is b/c it was a very complex robot, more complex then it had to be b/c we went for the “jack of all trades approach”.
But w/ our 2002 and 2004 robots we had fairly simple robots that were effective and didnt break. But for various reasons (including allience partners) we didnt do as well as we would have hoped. But at least i can look at those bots and be able to say w/o a doubt they wont break. And kno that i helped build a robot that worked great, did what it was designed for, and did it well.

So although id love to win a regional or division at nats, id much rather have a quality robot. Especially since luck does have a part in winning a event.

I think that one most have a quality robot in order to do well at competition. Quality is what (partially) gives a robot and it’s team a reputation. Students and mentors spend numerous man hours working and perfecting their robot to run reliably, and efficiently. I believe it is crucial to have a quality robot in order to win. Yes there is a level of driver skill and luck at competitions, but these factors have nothing to do with robot design.

For example, our team has created a simple yet effective robot. During Nationals while tugging the robot back to the pits, I exclaimed, “Robot coming through! Please move!” I overheard another student saying, “That is not a robot, that is a work of art!” Yes, our primary function for the robot is to hang, and we spent those six weeks making sure that this robot becomes one of the best hangers at competition.

I can go on, but I guess it is clear that I ultimately go with a quality robot. :smiley:

I always like to win. I enjoy seeing really cool features and mechanisms, but if it doesn’t help us win, I don’t really want it on a robot.

We have one guy on our team who just LOVES fancy robot mechanisms. All the time this guy says, “hey did you see team XXX with their cool YYY feature? We should’ve done something like that!” At which point I usually say, “Yes, that was really cool. Very good engineering. However, how would that help us win the game?” At this point the other guy usually says something like, “uhhhhh. Hmmmm. But it was so COOL!”

Fancy mechanisms are cool and all, but I always like to ask, “how does it help us win?” Engineering is about finding the best way to accomplish an objective. The objective of this engineering test is to win the game (at least that’s how I see it).


Perhaps I misread the question so I’ll answer it a different way. If you meant: Would you rather have a great robot, or a crappy one that rides the coat-tails of a great robot to win the event? I would have to answer that one differently. I would rather have a great robot.

The reason I first answered it the other way is because in the past I’ve seen some robots that were engineering marvels, but were strategy disasters. I thought, “that is really cool - completely useless for the game, but COOL!” Our team prides itself on coming up with robots that play the game strategically well every year. It may not be the fanciest, but it wins (this year was an exception, but the robot we came up with never made it to the field - we had to punt).

I go with Quality. I do note that complexity does not equal quality. A simple robot built with quality is much better than a complex robot without quality. Can you have a complex robot with Quality? Yes but under our restrictions it becomes very much tougher to do.

I would go for a little of both. A winning robot is great, but if isn’t of very good quality and isn’t reliable, then teams won’t want you for finals. Pretty robots aren’t going to get you far either. You’re not going to waltz right into the finals only because your robot is powdercoated. You have got to show what you can do. If you can do a lot of things well but die every other match, you’re not going to last very long. However, if you have robot that does one or two things really well and has very little problems, you are going to make it pretty far, and if your robot looks good doing it, it is an added bonus :slight_smile: . There are really two types of problems with robots - normal wear and tear and robots that do so much that they are too suceptible to damage. I have seen a few good looking robots where they have a lot of capabilities and can do a lot of great things by themselves but when you throw them on the field with some of the simpler robots, they just can’t quite cut it and systems keep breaking all the time or have to remove subsystems because they are causing too many problems. This is where reliability and quality outweigh a robot that is built to do everything. Through my expirience in FIRST, a quality robot is a winning robot.

If you have a quality robot, then you might feel pride in your work, but if you lose, that won’t feel nice, however, a winning robot makes you feel good, and since you need some quality to win, you will probably feel better having a winning robot.

too much thinking :stuck_out_tongue:

I would have a quality (re: relaible) than a robot that gets by on luck.
We do best when our robts are simple and relaible. Complexity means more things that can break.

Why isn’t there an option for “Both”? :rolleyes:

I personally would go for quality. It may be god to just win for this competition, but if We’re supposed to solve the problems of our world, will it really be that effective to build a device with just ebough to get by and complete whatever task, or one that really is reliable, works well, but may not be as top dog-like?

A project’s success is gauged in terms of it’s goals and design criteria. A robot isn’t quality if it doesn’t win, becuase it’s (hopefully) been designed to win.

what the Phront said.

quality is measured by how well a system performs its required functions

and BTW: REAL engineers dont care about appearances! [Ken dives under desk]

Well, appearance could be a factor in achieving a goal. Part of winning a FIRST competition is getting picked for an alliance, and a strikingly attractive robot is a means to that end.

I can’t wait to post pictures of our 2006 robot… :smiley:

I relly don’t care how the robot looks. All that matters is that it works well and does what it is supposed to. Now both things would be nice to have a winning and good looking robot.:slight_smile:

I don’t like it when people would sacrifice the ability to win to get a little bit more quality.

Quality is good, because it tends to have a direct correlation with success, which is what is really desired (heh).

If I can have a quality robot that can be successful, then that’s my cake! If I can only have one robot, then I’ll take the successful one.

“Look, I have the most well-engineered robot in the world!” – then the robot can’t do a darn thing to be competitive, or win. I don’t like that.

But to be complete:

“Look, I have the most successful robot this year!” – then a sharp edge slices someone’s finger off. I DON’T like that.

I guess I’m looking at both types of robots with all else being equal.

  1. Make it functional.
  2. Make it elegant.
  3. Make it look good.

That’s the order I usually use to guide my thinking. Clearly, there are times when the only thing that matters is looks, and other times when all that matters is quality, etc.

When my team does our PEW analysis of our goals and designs, our top two criteria are Simplicity and Reliability.
We have had several robots that we tried to make complex 2003 we tried to build a complex stacker that could stack bins right-side up and upside down, but we never used them due to our drive barely working ( it either fell over or blew apart a transmission in almost every match). In 2004 we spent so much time on our Tri-Star drive train that all we had were pneumatic roller wings and ball poker and in the end we ripped out the Tri-Stars and put in 4 wheels which still didn’t work that well.

In 2005 we decided to keep is simple not only with our devices but in our machining as well (Hacksaw & Drill) And as a result it worked in every match (with the exception of one match where we forgot to engage the arm)

So to sum it up I think having a quality (reliable) robot is better.