What is Robotics?
When people think of "competitive robotics" they usually think of robots destroying each other and the last bot standing is the winner. Unfortunately, isn't the case, but trust us when we say that what we do is just as interesting. Teams can get together before the season officially starts, but this is to meet and train team members instead of building the robot..The start of the season is kicked off with an online broadcast from First Robotics Competition (FRC). In said broadcast, the game for that season is announced and teams can start working on a robot. At this point, teams have six weeks to build their own robot from scratch...
Some people may think that FRC provides controllers so teams just need to assign buttons to the robot, but this isn't true. The truth is programmers have to program anything and everything the robot will do line by line. And things get even more complicated when you realize that there is also the matter of learning how to code, making time outside of season that much more valuable. But even when the programmers learn how to code their job is still very difficult. They still need to program the controller, and even the slightest mistake can ruin everything. Of course that trembles in comparison to autonomous control. In this section of competition, teams can only use pre-programmed code to control the robot without any inputs from the driver. Everything here must be perfect; even the slightest miscalculation can cause a team to miss out on valuable points. So the next time you see a programmer, you can appreciate the work they had to put in for the sake of the team.
Although it is more overlooked compared to the other departments in robotics, media is an essential as anything else on the team. It may not be required to create a robot, but it is important for teams to document and record what they do. These pictures and videos can then be used in a plethora of opportunities, including being posted on team websites like this one. Of course, they can also be posted on social media pages or sent to sponsors in thank you videos.
Now, for many teams,woodworking is as basic as recreating the minimum amount of game elements to be able to effectively practice. And this isn't necessarily bad, this way teams can focus their time and resources on the robot. However, that's not to say building the entire court doesn't have it's own benefits. If a team has full field, they can practice the autonomous portion of the game (this is where the robot may only be controlled using pre-written code rather than a driver who can react to what is happening). Also, having a field allows for unofficial scrimmage games where local teams can meet up and practice. Because of this, we has opted for the latter decision, even if it is more difficult. To us, these benefits out way the cost, but with hard work and a positive attitude, we can build even the most complex of structures.
For someone new to robotics, the competitions may seem confusing. It also doesn't help that the game changes every year, so you'll have to stay on top of all of the changes. But even though the game changes each season, there are still some basic rules that are consistent each year. For starters, there are two teams of three that compete head to head to score the most points and win the match. The winning team then scores a ranking point, but there are other ways to gain ranking points depending on the game objective. The top eight teams with the highest ranking point score then make it to the finals, where they can pick their two partners and see who will be the winner. Also, for the first few seconds of the competition, the robot is to be controlled using pre-written code. Although it makes it harder to earn points with the game objective, there are also some ways to earn points specifically in this portion of the game (even if it's as simple as "cross the first few feet of the field). But despite it sounding cliche, the most important thing at a competition is to have fun. The environment at these competition doesn't feel like a competition at all. At sports games, the only difference between teams is the teams themselves. But in a robotics game, each team has their own robot with its own tricks and strategies. Maybe it has an arm to pick up balls, or maybe it uses an elevator to put the balls on the higher targets. Each bot is unique and are always interesting to watch.