Would You Like to Drive a Robot?

Yesterday we invited a lot of public officials out to our FRC District event being here on March 11-13 here at Walt Whitman.  We want to layout what visitors can expect if they take up us on our offer to drive a robot.

On Friday at noon the Staff and volunteers from Chesapeake FIRST will descend on the school and start to turn our wrestling room, aux gym and main gym into the hub for DC robotics for the weekend.  Nearly 100 volunteers will work to setup a field, event administration and pits for 40 teams. Late on Friday the event staff will also gain access to nearly a dozen classrooms to be used for a variety of purposes; judging room, volunteer check in, volunteer food, team interview space and other admin spaces. The event staff will also turn our cafeteria into a practice field late on Friday.  Once the space is ready all 40 teams will be able start loading in their robots.  We have not seen the official agenda so we are not sure if teams will be able to start getting inspected on Friday, but it may be possible.

The real action starts Saturday; every will line up to get into the building so that as soon as the doors open students can get started on a variety of prerequisite tasks; getting inspected, getting on the practice field and getting at least one practice match to verify your robot can connect to the field.  Then, around 10, everything will stop and everyone will filter into the main gym to take part in the opening ceremonies. We will hear from FIRST leadership, School leadership and sponsors about how important FIRST and STEM is and how this is going to be a great year for the Chesapeake region.

Practice Matches Saturday Morning

Practice matches are exactly what they sound like and are not considered competition game play. Teams get between 1 and 3 practice match slots reserved for them at each event.  The main goal of a practice match is to ensure your robot connects to the field.  Other goals of practice matches are to ensure the robot functions as intended, that the drivers get used to the field and to try some of the match strategies out on a real field.  Another goal for many team is to identify alignment solutions for their robots from the various driver station locations.  An alignment solution may be as simple as looking at the robot or as complex as using features of the robot combined with features of the field to visually confirm alignment.

If your robot is inspected and your team is up for the challenge you can usually get additional practice matches.  The event will usually have a que for team who want to fill in slots that go unfilled in any individual match. We highly recommend you take advantage of this as it gives your drivers additional driver practice.


Qualification Matches Saturday and Sunday Morning

Teams will get between 6 and 10 qualification matches at each event they attend.  Qualification matches are 3 on 3 matches that are considered competition game play and are used to calculate your team’s event ranking.  Teams are broken up into red and blue alliances, and in most years the alliances are competing to win the qualification match.  Check out the Event Ranking section for more info on how teams are ranked.

Alliances are selected randomly, this forces teams to create unique alliance strategies for each qualification event.  The alliance strategy for each match should allow for teams to accomplish one or more of their desired goals.  Teams goals could include scoring a certain number of points, winning a match or demonstrating a capability.  Alliance strategies may also include preventing teams on the opposing alliance from meeting their goals.  Alliance drive teams from each of the 3 teams should meet to discuss and then agree on a match strategy.  Using drawings or strategy boards is highly recommended.  In some cases the red and blue alliances will need to work together to achieve one or more of the team’s match goals.

  • In 2012 if one robot from each alliance balanced on the center bridge together all 6 teams would earn cooperation points.
  • In 2015 if robots from each alliance worked together to build a stack of 4 yellow totes on the center step all 6 teams would receive an additional 40 points

In cases when you need to work with an opposing alliance you will need to expand your strategy discussion to include 1 or more teams from the opposing alliance.  Be cautious about agreeing to cooperation tasks unless you are highly confident that the team or teams you will need to work with on the opposing alliance can do what they say they can do.  In many instances earning the cooperation points consumes a significant amount of match time and if they go unearned could lead to a significant loss of points needed for a event ranking.

When working a match strategy be sure to include scouting data on all 5 other teams in the match.  Understanding what each team can or can not do, how reliably they can do things and how many penalties they have earned will go a long way to creating realistic match strategies.  Alliances need realistic match strategies to ensure that individual team’s will meet their goals.  Alliances who agree to unrealistic match strategies put their event ranking at risk and have their failures documented in other team’s scouting data.

Event Ranking

Each qualification match a team competes in provides data into the event rankings. Each year’s game comes along with different ranking systems and plays a big role in what game strategies team’s pick.  At an event, teams need to understand how the ranking work so they can increase their odds of picking or being picked.  Here are some of the way teams have been officially ranked at events;

  • Event Ranking Points
    • 2 points for being on the alliance with the highest points in each match
    • 1 point for any match that ends in a tie
    • 1 point for being on an alliance that scores 8 boulders in the tower
    • 1 point for being on an alliance that goes over 4 defenses twice with any of the 3 robots
  • Teams will be ranked by
    • Highest number of ranking points
    • If tied than largest total auton points
    • If still tied than largest number of scaling and challenging points
    • If still tied than largest number high and low goal points
    • If still tied than largest number of defense damaging points
    • If still tied than random selection by event computer


Alliance Selection Sunday at Noon

After teams have completed all of their qualification matches and the final event ranking has been calculated, the top 8 teams will pick their alliances.  The top 8 teams are known as alliance captains and they will get to choose the two other teams that they will play with for the rest of the tournament. Remember, in the qualification matches alliances were randomly generated, in eliminations the alliances are drafted to create the strongest alliance possible.

FRC has used a traditional draft in the past, but for most recent years they have used a serpentine draft.

  • Traditional draft – team one through eight picks, then team one starts the second round and teams two through eight picks again
  • Serpentine draft – team one through eight picks, then team eight starts the second round and teams seven through one picks again

Be very prepared during alliance selection, this is probably the most critical decision a team can make to increase their odds of winning an event.

Elimination Matches Sunday Afternoon

Elimination matches are some of the exciting matches of any event.  At most district or regional events this will mean 8 alliances with 3 teams a piece will compete in double elimination tournament play to be the winning alliance.  At world championship alliances have 4 teams, 3 active and 1 backup.  Eliminations matches need to be well rehearsed and alliances need to consistently improve as they move up to win.

District Events

District events are the smallest of the FRC events with between 30-40 teams in attendance.  District events are also shortest of the FRC events events with only two days reserved for practice and competition.  District events are also the only event type that does not allow teams to earn a place at World Championships, instead you earn District points.  Teams with the highest number of District points are invited to attend the District Championship Event.  Here is how teams can earn points;

  • For each qualification match they participate in up to 22 points per event
  • For being an alliance captian
  • For being selected in eliminations
  • For each elimination match
    • the amount for each match depends on how far you go in the tournament
  • For awards
    • 10 pts – chairman’s award winner
    • 8 pts – engineering inspiration award winner
    • 8 pts – rookie all star award winner
    • 5 pts – robot based award (Delphi, Xerox, GM, Rockwell, Motorola) winner
    • 5 pts – rookie inspiration award winner
    • 5 pts – semifinalist
    • 5 pts – woodie flower award winner
    • 5 pts – highest rookie seed award winner
    • 5 pts – high score
    • 5 pts – judges award winner
    • 5 pts – dean’s list award winner
    • 5 pts – quarter finalist
    • 5 pts – other award winners
  • For team age
    • Rookie team gets 10 points
    • 2nd year team gets 5 points

One thing to be aware of is that teams attend at least two District events and add up their point totals.  If a team attend a third District event the points earned at that event do not get added to your district point total.  Here are some additional notes about District events;

  • Team’s attending 2 day district events are allowed to access their robot between 2 and 6 hours in their shop in the week leading up tot he event.  Check out the admin manual for more details

To learn more about other event types click here


Team’s Participating at Our Event

Team Number Team Name Location
449 The Blair Robot Project Silver Spring, Maryland, USA
615 Knights Washington, District of Columbia, USA
686 Bovine Intervention Frederick, Maryland, USA
836 The RoboBees Leonardtown, Maryland, USA
1389 The Body Electric Bethesda, Maryland, USA
1418 Vae Victis Falls Church, Virginia, USA
1446 BAE League of Extraordinary Engineers Washington, District of Columbia, USA
1885 ILITE Robotics Haymarket, Virginia, USA
1915 MTHS Firebird Robotics Washington, District of Columbia, USA
2186 Dogs of Steel Chantilly, Virginia, USA
2199 Robo-Lions Eldersburg, Maryland, USA
2537 Space RAIDers Columbia, Maryland, USA
2819 Team Dynamite Oxon Hill, Maryland, USA
2849 Ursa Major Columbia, Maryland, USA
2900 The Mighty Penguins Washington, District of Columbia, USA
2911 CoolBots Washington, DC, USA
2912 Panthers Washington, District of Columbia, USA
2914 TIGER PRIDE Washington, District of Columbia, USA
2961 Crimson Tide Engineers Washington, District of Columbia, USA
2963 AnaDroids Washington, District of Columbia, USA
2964 Robopanthers Washington, District of Columbia, USA
3283 3283 Coyote Robotix Clarksburg, Maryland, USA
3650 Robo Raptors Waldorf, Maryland, USA
3748 Ragnarok Robotics Ellicott City, Maryland, USA
3793 CyberTitans Frederick, Maryland, USA
4099 Falcons FIRST Poolesville, Maryland, USA
4242 Fresh T.E.C.H. Washington, District of Columbia, USA
4456 Mech Cadets Washington, District of Columbia, USA
4464 Team Illusion Greenbelt, Maryland, USA
4514 Calvert STEAM Works Huntingtown, Maryland, USA
4638 Jagbots Germantown, Maryland, USA
4821 Team Vulcan Washington, District of Columbia, USA
4945 Titanium-Wrecks Snow Hill, Maryland, USA
4949 Robo Panthers Riverdale, Maryland, USA
5115 Knight Riders Silver Spring, Maryland, USA
5569 Tech Titans Washington, District of Columbia, USA
5587 TC Williams High School Alexandria, Virginia, USA
5830 The Irrational Engineers Lanham, MD, USA
5841 The Patriots Frederick, MD, USA
5979 Apex Columbia, MD, USA


Team 1389 is also registered for the CHS District – Central Maryland Event. This event will take place Mar 24-26, 2016 in Edgewater, MD. The team list for this event also looks like it is near complete.  This event will not be any easier than our week 2 event. We will see 16 teams for the second time and for nearly every team at the event this will be their second competition.


Team 1389 Drive Try Outs

On Wednesday the 10th Our team will hold tryouts to see who will be driving our robot for the season.  Everyone is welcome.

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