Longer autonomous?

I (as a programmer) would appreciate a longer autonomous period in the VRC High School level (maybe something like 30-45 seconds). I was wondering what other teams thought of this idea. (If REC or VEX staff read this and want to respond, I would like to know why it is currently 20 seconds and not longer… I’m not trying to appear discontent, but I’m just curious…)

As far as I can see there are only a few disadvantages:

  • slightly longer tournaments
  • slightly harder for rookie teams to compete (this would probably be the biggest disadvantage I can see)
    But in my opinion, it raises the standard for autonomous mode and encourages learning good programming practices (i.e. error correction, etc.)

What do you think?

I must say that I fully agree with you. I’ve always wanted a longer autonomous. But I guess that that is why they have programming skills. They don’t want you to fail regular matches just because you can’t program a really good autonomous.

Nah, but I do like the longer autonomous in the college competition. It serves to elevate the level of competition.

And magicode is right, the programming skills challenge gives current high school programmers more than enough opportunity to play.


I think a longer autonomous would be good (30sec), just as long as the points value didn’t change.

but on the other hand, it would make the game a lot hardr for less experienced teams. In last years game, clean sweep, a good programmed autonomous would have been able to clear over half the field in 35-40secs, which would have made it imposible for the other alliance to catch up.

A lot can still be done in 20secs, and you have to remember that lots of teams don’t even have autonomous (over 50% in some competitions), so a good autonomous can achieve a lot (enough to win a game) in 20seconds.

I always thought 20 secs was good enough. The way i see it is anymore is too much time. If 20 second is not enough time to complete your autonomous, it challenges you to make things happen simultaneously or faster, which makes things alot more competitive and interesting.

I am just starting to get into programming and I have not needed extra time so far, but I could see where you are comming from. I have a TON of respect for programmers and I am striving to improve our program along with another team member. My team was just in a playoff at the last tournament for programming challenge. Each team did one run at the same time and we won by one ring. There’s nothing more exciting than a great programming.
However, just from tournaments I’ve been to, probably not even half of the teams have a semi effective autonomous. Increasing the time would make it harder for these teams and would cause some other problems. I have been in positions where my autonomous wasn’t working so I programmed one to simply “ram” other’s bots. This would take away from the longer autonomous, and is what my problem is with the 1 min. in college. There is no way that there wouldn’t be any contact of the bots in a minute, and unless I’m missing something, contact normally throws off an autonomous. Just my two cents.

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use MORE sensors and other strategies to dodge or compensate for the ram

mbrunn: that stuff might be possible, but for my team it would simply take away from the whole design process, for people that want to do that, they have a place, its the programming challenge, not really the autonomous

How would it take away from the design process? Are you speaking specifically to the time to complete the process, or to what is learned though the process?

In the “real world,” even R/C robots must have some sort of auto-avoidance feature (i.e. mars rovers). To compensate for a “ram” teams could use an accelerometer to detect the ram, then find the lines on the field. The drivers’ place is not just in the Robot Skills Challenge; in the same way a programmer’s place is not just the programming challenge.

Having a longer autonomous would cause teams to learn more about programming and creating “smart” robots, and would enhance the learning experience for teams. The hardest part is finding a balance - too long of an autonomous would make the challenge too hard for rookie teams, but too short of an autonomous doesn’t stretch advanced programmers.

i think to emphasis the importance of the autonomous, they could just make the autonomous bonus worth more points (which they did this year) thumbs up

this is what i was referring to. thankyou

True. I do like a big autonomous bonus, but I would rather have a longer autonomous period. A longer auton encourages programming skill (i.e. PID for straight travel over long distances, sensors to avoid other robots and to correct for error, etc) more than an autonomous bonus does.

I vote no. If you want longer autonomous in the regular competition compete in FTC. The harder we make VRC the harder it is to start new teams and the less likely they will continue. VRC with it’s programming challenge gives you the best of both worlds.

Sry, bad choice of words. I meant that for my team this year, we were unable to put the amount of time into our program that is needed to get something that you are talking about. I would however LOVE to learn how to do that stuff and would put in a lot of time getting our program where it needs to be.

I think there are ways to make autonomous more challenging without making it longer. These should be prioritized, as a 2:15 match is pretty close to ideal.


I will try to let you in our philosophy here at VEX and the RECF. Many of the employees at VEX and RECF have been robotics mentors and volunteers like many of you.

Many of us (me included) are still mentors for robotics teams and have the same, or similar, opinions that many of you do.

With that said, VEX and RECF have a bigger picture in mind. We want every high school and middle school student in the world to have the opportunity to utilize robotics in both classroom instruction and extra-curricular competition.

In order to meet this goal we must make sure the VEX Robotics Design System is appealing to students of all skill level. This is rather simple on the classroom side of things, but especially challenging for the competition. Take the ladder, for instance. We had a feeling that the local tournaments would not use the ladder much, but we wanted to make sure the high skilled teams had something that was challenging enough for them while keeping it “easy” enough for beginners.

The key here is that everyone feels like they have at least a chance of doing this thing. That is the only way you have a chance to get every student the opportunity.

As a result, some of you higher end users may not get everything that you want. Such is life.

As such, we have a short auton during regular game play but have this fantastic competition called the Programming Skills Challenge where you programmers have one minute to show off your stuff. We feel that this is the best balance in order to appeal to users of all skill levels.

Anyway, I thought it would be helpful to share some of our philosophy with all of you.


Thank you for explaining that, Mr. Copioli. :slight_smile:

I think the auto should be 30 seconds and that the winning points should be what was scored in auto. So if you win auto 35-12, you should take 23 points for the auto score. Makes the auto score much more of a value. So maybe robots will start as a collections of sensors on an idea, vs sensors bolted after the fact on the robot to win another challenge.

And FWIW, events can shut down auto mode before the 30 seconds. I’ve done matches where it’s been two 5 second routines. We kill after 10 and the drivers step up. No real lost time in the match scheduling.

Love to see the programming, love to see the face to face. Would like to see Driver mode first then auto mode.


I would say keep it the same, but the value should probably change from year to year… It needs to be enough to make it worthwhile, but not enough to blow away any chances for new teams…

(i.e. last year, you could just pick up an extra football or two… This year, you score two rings, and you’ve balanced it…)

Amen, Amen, Amen! (is there a shout icon?)
This is why I love VEX!