ROLES FOR EVERYONE
Ensure that each team member has an assigned role prior to the competition and that each person understands what the responsibilities associated with that role are. Once you are at the competition, it may be difficult to assign roles. Think outside the box. In addition to competition team and pit crew, assign team members duties like team spirit, scouts (more later), and even judges for awards your team may give out to others.
SCOUTING OTHER TEAMS
This topic, while part of Competition Preparation, is so important, we split it out separately.
In this MOEmentum addition, we will discuss the overall flow of scouting and discuss pre-competition scouting in particular. Next week’s edition will describe scouting at a competition.
An overview of what scouting may look like is contained in this SCOUTING OVERVIEW.
*DOWNLOAD* Scouting Overview
- Who to scout?
- Web Scouting of Teams
- Develop Scouting Form For Competitions
- Scouting at Competitions
WHO TO SCOUT?
While it may be fun to scout all the teams involved in the FIRST Robotics Competition, it is unnecessary. Over 1000 teams are competing this season. This task is huge.
Focus on the teams attending the Regional event you will attend. This should result in anywhere from 30 to 60 teams. Go to the regional event listing, which lists every team participating in the regional. These are the teams to scout.
WEB SCOUTING OF TEAMS
Check out team websites for photos of their robot and, perhaps, descriptions of the robot functions. Try your best to determine what strategies the team will employ based on the perceived capabilities of the robot.
Realize that you are limited in what you can determine by web scouting. However, it will give you a leg up when you actually get to the competition.
Also consider looking at archived matches of scrimmages or videos of the robot in action.
Some teams have scouting databases set up to assist you in this endeavor. One good example is the Blue Alliance site.
DEVELOPING A SCOUTING FORM FOR COMPETITIONS
Knowing your robot capabilities, begin to assemble information you will want to know about other teams, both as alliance partners and opponents. Determine ways of capturing this information in the pit area of the competitions and also during the practice and qualification matches.
Keep in mind that scouting actual matches is hard work. Try to keep your scouting sheet simple and easy to use.
NEXT WEEK’S SCOUTING INSTALLMENT WILL INCLUDE A SAMPLE SCOUT SHEET.
COMPILE LEARNINGS FROM VARIOUS SCRIMMAGES
Even if you have not attended a local scrimmage, learnings are available through teams attending. Check out Chief Delphi and other FIRST sites to get others’ perspectives about the game.
Teams use all different methods to record information about other teams – paper, computer, hand-held PDAs, etc. Use whatever method is most comfortable for your team.
Scouting is important to determine how you complement other teams in your alliance and how you match up against your opponents.
No matter how you record it, focus on information, which will be useful to your team when you meet your alliance partners to discuss strategy.
Some possible areas to gather information include:
CAPABILITIES – what can the robot/team do and what can’t it do?
STRATEGIES – what does the robot / team do during the match? How do they play the game?
PERFORMANCE – how well does the robot / team do what it attempts? What are the robot’s strengths and weaknesses?
AUTONOMOUS / HYBRID – what does the robot do in autonomous and/or hybrid mode? Does the team have multiple program options?
The more data points you can collect on strategies and performance, the better understanding you will have of a given team. Many teams use a paper system to record this information. Information on Capabilities can be obtained by visiting the team / robot in the pit area.
Be careful about the truthfulness about information. Just because a team says they can score 30+ points in hybrid, hurde 6 times a match and quickly place a Trackball at match end does not mean they can.
This attachment is a set of example worksheets Team 365 used to scout other teams. We had one manila folder for each team and gathered all scout sheets for that team in the same folder. The folders were arranged numerically in accordian files.
*DOWNLOAD* 2005 Scouting Data Sheet
Additionally, two presentations at the FIRST Robotics Conference focused on Scouting – one by Team 108 (SigmaCats) and one by Team 254 (Cheesy Poofs).
*DOWNLOAD* Video Scouting – Kenny (108)
*DOWNLOAD* Winning FIRST Matches – Steve (254)
There are some great websites out there with scouting information. One site that has photos of robots over the years is firstrobotics.net/galleries.html. The 2006 Galleriew are not up yet. When they are, submit a photo of your robot for posterity.
The best way to gather accurate information is to have well-trained people obtaining it. The most successful scouts are individuals who see scouting as valuable and pay attention to detail.
Plan to train scouts on what information to collect and how to collect it before the competition. If possible, assign them teams to scout prior to the competition.
If you have enough team members, assign certain scouts specific teams to focus on. This maintains consistency in the collected information and can reveal modifications in strategy and/or robot functionality improvements.
NASA WEBCASTS / NASA TV BROADCAST OF COMPETITIONS
The first weekend of competition is March 3-4. Check the NASA Robotics site to see what competitions will be webcast and if any will be broadcast on NASA TV. Determine if any teams you will see at upcoming regionals are participating. Scout via the web or broadcast, if you can.