Event partner votes yes on rule Visually challenged rule request

This link https://vexforum.com/showpost.php?p=334081&postcount=1

Has a request was to put a single tape stripe at the end of the goal.

Seems pretty simple, easy, no cost thing to do. Can you tell me when this rule change will go in effect to make the field a little more user friendly? I’ve worked with some visual challenged roboteers, this request is slightly below “No brainer”. Not sure why it was turned down to start, but now that the holiday had ended, fix it.


Ooh. Can I hazard a guess?

It’s to prevent us from detecting the tape around the top of the cylinder with sensors and position the arm to the right height when scoring.

Well said sir. There was a very compelling argument put forward to support this request. It should fall under <G1>. If my vote carries any weight (I don’t think so :slight_smile: ) then I vote yes.

Cheers, Paul

Also in favor, if teams use it for light sensing, then more power to them for thinking of it and we would all have the same advantage from that.

Personally I think it would be really cool if people with visual impairment built robots tailored to their needs and used sensors/coding to make the robot easier to align on the goals. It would be inspiring, like those cars that have been built specially so that blind people can drive them!

However, not everyone has the time or resources for such a thing, and some white tape at the top of the goals is so incredibly easy to apply, I am in favor as well.

The white tape would also make it easier for observers to see the goals; when I watch match videos (360p or less for sanity) I can’t always see the goals and it is a bit confusing when trying to determine whether a robot has successfully stashed, or missed the goal.

Hey teams,

I just got back from the Event Partner Summit, and this topic was discussed for a considerable time in a general Q&A session.

Here is my take-away from what was said:

The GDC always takes into consideration the diversity of experience PLUS the long duration of the season. This results in the GDC having some elements able to be scored fairly easily (for teams who are very new, or for Sept and Oct events when robots aren’t fully built). But there are also elements that are quite challenging so that teams can always strive for continual improvement, throughout their season and team history. A team might not figure out how to score in those clear goals this year, but will eventually find ways of solving the toughest elements in future games as they grow in experience.

The goals are invisible because they are the difficult portion of this game. Event Partners at the summit pointed out that they liked that this element would make teams seek to find ways to efficiently score, even when unable to rely on their vision. If tape is put at the top, the game becomes easier for everyone. There was overwhelming support to keep the game challenging, and to have some element of the game so hard that the very best teams would have to put serious thought into a design and programming solution. Using sensors during driver control to assist is what top teams are doing already. These clear goals that are 12 feet from the drivers push that point and the Event Partners’ hope is that more teams will start to use driver assisted programming solutions.

Instead of asking for easy solutions, think of what you can do to make it easy for you when up against hard problems. If you put white tape on the top and do nothing in the programming to help you drop in a bucky ball, your robot will not be as efficient as a robot that just needs the driver to get close and, by the push a button, the robot quickly and efficiently scores on its own.

This wasn’t said, but I just thought of it. Traffic lights beep for people who are blind. VEX has a speaker that you can attach to your robot. Think of ways of using that speaker to also give you clues about the robot’s position and location to objects that are hard to see. This is real world application. When you cannot rely on one sense, how can you incorporate another so that you get the same queues as everyone else? Find the solutions, don’t change or simplify the problem. And how cool will that be to see (or hear) a robot using the functions with a clear purpose?!

Jim Crane couldn’t have said it better, It actually inspired me to improve my robot using more programming, #speaker… I do understand the concern for vision purposes but Jim has the right idea.

Hope something works out.

Traffic lights beep? I’ve never seen that before…
Thanks for the well thought out reasoning and thorough explanation however. Impressed as always with the GDC.

I haven’t seen traffic lights beep either… that sounds like it would encourage people with poor vision to drive, which is not really something that the government would probably support. However, street crossing signs for pedestrians definitely do beep.

The challenge for the best teams is competing against the other best teams. Building a robot that can complete all the game’s objectives demonstrates competence, but it doesn’t make a team one of the best.

If anyone at the Event Partner Summit thinks the 24" goals are “so hard that the very best teams would have to put serious thought into a design and programming solution” then I don’t think they’ve been paying enough attention.

The 24" goals are not hard for normal people to see. The claim that they’re *designed *to be hard to see, as you’re implying, seems pretty dubious; we’ve had vertical prismatic polycarb goals before, so it seems more likely that it was just the best available material.

Since the goals aren’t hard to see, and since robots can be built to mechanically mate with the goals in order to aim better, there isn’t really any reason for a normal team to have their robot score programmatically during driver control. It isn’t faster than scoring manually.

Making the goals hard to see is not very effective as a way of making the game more challenging for experienced teams, but it does apparently make the game significantly more difficult for some teams.

I can understand the reasons against making a change to the goals. It would be difficult to ensure consistency between different locations. Any addition to the field comes at a cost. As a competition, the VRC has previously seen differences in natural driving ability as just part of the game (for example, someone who is too short to see the field can’t stand on a raised platform or wear big shoes). It might be reasonable to say that the reasons against a change outweigh the reasons for one, but I don’t think it’s reasonable to claim that the game is better the way it is.

Totally agree. If using sensors was faster than scoring manually, programming skills scores would rival or better robot skills scores, but they are closer to half, even when manual repositioning is allowed. The goals would need to be totally obscured behind a screen before using sensors to detect them during driver control would be advantageous.

Isn’t designing an aspect of the game to be more difficult, simply by making the goal more difficult to see, just giving an advantage to the drivers who have the best vision???

I think there are some very challenging aspects to this game, but picking up bucky balls and dropping them into a polycarbonate, tubular goal is not one of them (unless you can’t see them!). My sons have no problem seeing the goals. I thought the request for additional tape on the goals was a reasonable one and, if I was the young fellow in question, I would be feeling pretty let down right now.

Cheers, Paul

The VEX speaker is small and not very loud, and when the speaker is 12 feet away from you in a noisy tournament arena (music blasting, people talking and cheering, coaches barking orders, MC announcing) you are not likely to hear it.

I’m pretty sure he means cross walk lights that beep when it is okay to cross the road. We have them in my town.

Here is an example of driver assisted programming…from my daughter’s team (2nd grade at the time).

She designed a robot that had an arm with a claw at the end to pick up the sack and put it in the trough. Think clawbot, but bigger and a second rotation point close to the claw. During autonomous, the robot scored with ease…but during the driver control, if the claw was angled too low or the arm wasn’t at the correct position…well anyway, it took a few seconds to line it up just right.

At dinner one night, she asked, can’t I program one button on the remote to move the arm and claw into position for dropping the bag in the trough? So I showed her how…I hadn’t thought of it myself and instead, was telling her team to practice more so they could get faster. But with that button programmed, now they just got a sack in the claw, pushed the button and drove over to the trough with everything at the perfect height for dropping. (No, they didn’t qualify for worlds;)

Industry uses autonomous programs to do things that are too dangerous or require more precision than human manipulation can. As an engineer, you will be given requirements from a client and told to make something work based on those requirements. I remember a hypothetical problem in one of my engineering classes for a sensor control on a bridge so that trucks could be warned if they were too tall. Putting a white line on the bridge so it is easier to see, or just making the bridge taller were not options we considered. Give people a chance to find a solution to a hard problem, those are the solutions you notice and remember. Even if you think you don’t have to, because you are good enough with a joystick, do it and learn something new that you can tell a college admissions officer.

A note on the traffic signal that beeps. In my town, we don’t have the boxes that say walk or don’t walk, but a normal red, yellow, green light at the corner for the pedestrians. It is that light (traffic signal for pedestrian traffic) that beeps for the pedestrians and not for the drivers. Sorry for the confusion.

I don’t believe that any body is disagreeing with you that you could program something that assists your robot, just that *most *of the time it doesn’t make sense to for vex(whether it be lack of control, complexity, time, etc.).

What the issue that a lot of people are having that the goals simply aren’t that hard to see. What is essentially happening is that your giving no advantage/disadvantage to people with good vision, while your giving a HUGE disadvantage to people who can’t see as well. Could they program something that helps? Sure. But will other top teams be doing that? I can nearly guarantee you no.

I think we all can agree on the concept of which RECF is trying to implement, however I don’t believe it’s being applied to real life as they thought.

Thanks Jim for posting the behind the scenes discussion that went on. Knowing the discussion helps all of us.

For those of you that don’t know Jim (since he is up to post #2) , he is a robotics rock star in the Philly Area. He started off as we all do with a kit, and it became a mission. His former school has robotics in almost every part of the day “Students, todays’s lunch are macaroni spirals that match the worm gears found in 276-2184.” He had an amazing cadre of middle and highschool roboteers and ran the last two Pennsylvania State Championships with over 70 teams in attendance.

Those of us in Philadelphia morn his loss to RECF, teams in NY, PA, NJ, MD and VA should really be excited. He’s a great guy, you will like working with him.

I agree with the concept. I would have loved the rules to say “Yes, you may have noted no tape on the tower, we want you to start using sensors, VEX has been selling them for years and years, get with it”.

I would have loved a GDC Youtube. Picture Wizard of Oz and how it’s a giant head wreathed in clouds of smoke. Any head will do, but I picture Karthik.

*Head: I’m the great and powerful GDC, speak your question.
Young Roboteer: Hey, can we get tape on top of the clear tower?
Head: No. The GDC has spoken.
Roboteer slumps and heads to the door.
Head: Hey roboteer, wait a second…
**Roboteer **turns and looks
Head: We want you to use sensors to figure things out. You do a good job in autonomous but we want you to use sensors during the operator phase.
**Roboteer **nods slowly.
**Head: **And, just between us, in 2015 most of the goals will be holograms that can only be seen by the robot.
**Roboteer *nods faster, turns and leaves

I would have told event partners to go get some of the Zazzle tape (the multicolor rainbow tape that reflects light every which way. $2 per roll at your local craft store) and wrap it around the top.

That would have given teams four choices for sensors, rotational to figure where the arm is, ultrasonic to see where the tube ends and either the line follower or the light sensor to see the flashy light strip at the top. The vision impaired people would also get the hint, but not be at a disadvantage this year.

Plus, it mitigates the safety issue, hard to slam your face into a tube that has a reflective strip at the top.

But, based on today, I’m happy with Jim’s post on the why, and appreciate him giving some additional “what really happened”

I’m kind of confused now… are we or are we not having tape on the goals? I thought Karthik already denied tape… Is it possible to override the judging with enough support?

No. As far as we know, nothing is changing. For now, this is a guy on a forum saying he thinks it’s something the GDC should do, and us debating it. Nothing more.

At the end of last season a request to make the game a little more friendly for the visually impaired.

Rules came out, game elements are made, towers are hard to see

Parents appealed rule – No from GDC

Parents appealed rule and got some local support from some of us (I started this thread)

Karthik posted a second – No from GDC

Jim Crane posted that it was discussed about in the partner meeting and the reasons given was that they want us to use more sensors.

People agree with Jim

I agree with Jim, but would have been more explicit on the message “Use sensors during operator mode to make the robot better”

So - no tape – no confusion – GDC rule stands – just go get that box of sensor of the closet and start using them.

Thanks Jim for your feedback. I know you will never please everyone.

I think it is great if there is an aspect of the game that is extremely difficult or even seemingly impossible to achieve. This will really stretch the students.

What I would ask is to please attempt to make each task equally difficult for ALL participants, rather than inherently more difficult for participants with a disability. In other words, attempt to create a level playing field for all… well level except for the bump of course :). I would not like to think that a contributory factor to winning is because a participant is the tallest, has the longest arms, has the best vision or has the keenest hearing. These gifts should be paraded on a sports field, not a robotics field.

Thanks, Paul