FRC (FIRST Robotics Competition) is an international high school robotics competition where teams from all over the world compete. Students, coaches and mentors work together for a period of six-week to build robots for the competition. Robots complete tasks such as scoring balls into goals, placing inner tubes onto racks, hanging on bars, and balancing robots on balance beams. If you are looking for a quick guide to win this competition then you are in the right place. This article briefs about the FIRST Robotics competition and also some strategies to win the competition.
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Developing strategy teaches critical analysis and critical thinking. A strategy is necessary for every aspect of life.
A part of your strategy may include how other teams will perceive your robot. Do you have a flashy look or move that draws attention and will make Alliance Captains think of you when it comes time to pick partners. Does your team come across as being friendly and fun to work with, having it together, being dependable, having a robot that needs little maintenance or repair?
Good strategies are flexible and simple. They shouldn’t depend on too many things going just right to succeed. They have fallback positions, alternative, or backup strategies. What to do if what you thought would be important turns out not to be. A good strategy shouldn’t break the rules or even be perceived as skirting the rules, such as damaging other robots if they get in your way. Even though you may well be within the rules, subjective perceptions drive Alliance picks.
Develop backups and alternatives. Strategies should grow, mutate, and completely change to keep your opponents off-balance. If it's predictable, then your opponent has all the advantage in devising a counter-strategy.
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Having a repeatable process is a crucial element in successful strategic planning. If you have a hit or miss, luck filled season or planning that depends completely upon the talent of one person, then you don't have a methodology. Be realistic and critical in your evaluations. What do you have a reasonable chance of pulling off based on the limited time, money, skills, tools you have. For most teams, it isn't reasonable to build a robot completely out of never-been-tried-before designs, just because you've seen other teams with those mechanisms.
Suppose for example you pick three mechanisms you've seen three other teams do before. Those teams may have spent their whole build period developing, trouble-shooting, and refining that one thing. They've learned the hard way what works, what the limitations of the device are, what needs to be reinforced and redesigned six times. It isn't reasonable to assume you will be able to develop your own version of three brand new mechanisms that it took three other teams to develop in the same amount of time.
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Revisit and deconstruct old games, FRC/FTC/Vex/BEST and other similar competitions work well for training. Use your methodology to devise a game strategy, then examine how they really turned out and evaluate how you would have done. The key here is a realistic evaluation. People tend to be blind to their own strategy defects. Find an independent third party to validate your opinions.
Alternatively, extract or reverse engineer the strategies of the championship winners, then without knowledge of who won and why have, your trainees evaluate which strategy they think would work best, why, what can be exploited by opposing alliances, etc. Then let them see what really happened. See what the Championship Newton teams did, how they performed, how they played through mechanical breakdowns, what mattered, what didn't. Develop counter-strategies to what you see on the webcast recording. How would a zone vs a one-on-one defence have worked? How could one robot slow if not stop two opponents?
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