Specialization in robots

In previous years, do-it-all designs have usually been the most successful by worlds. However, after my first competition, I am beginning to question if making a “do it all” robot is a good idea this year.

Since you really can’t have multiple robots building a skyrise, wouldn’t it be better for an alliance to have a robot that specializes in scoring only cubes?

In my opinion, picking up skyrise sections is very easy (watch some videos on youTube, lots of ideas). The cubes can be tricky due to weight and size. But if you have a robot that is built well enough to handle the cubes, it should be quite simple to add on a small mechanism to grab skyrise sections which will not interfere with the cube intake.

I feel that a “do it all” robot is WAY easier this year than last year.

Last year = be able to navigate bump, under the barrier, pick up buckys, pick up large balls, toss large balls, hang from bar.

This year = pick up cubes and sections. the end.

that is the idea that we have been going with this year. my only fear is that a cube scoring robot might not rank as high.

Yeah, depending on the level of competition simply being able to build the Skyrise somewhat might be enough for you to win the majority of qualification matches, regardless of how good your partner is. A really solid cube scorer maybe not so much.

As others have said, the best robots by worlds will be able to do everything. Early in the season, simple and reliable robots do really well, but later on, more complicated do-it-all robots surpass them.

what if you made a simple robot that can do it all?

Then you have won at life.

This is what I am arguing against… There is zero need for an alliance to have two robots who have to make room to score skyrise sections. A smart skyrise/cube team would scout out a partner who focuses on cubes.

Of course, cube-robots will probably rank lower than skyrise robots in qualifications. It’ll require people to scout.

“to make room to score skyrise sections”

I find this puzzling. If done well, the ability to score skyrise sections takes up very very little space and should be quite easy to implement into any design. The risk you take by not incorporating a skyrise section intake to me is not even close to worth it. During qualifications you will never know what your alliance partner is capable of doing. Therefore, if you only focus on cubes and you get a partner that cannot score skyrise sections you are probably going to lose that match. (max you get is 2 points for each scored cube + ownership)

Maybe I worry to much, but I personally tell me students to NEVER rely on the other team in the alliance. Obviously you work with them, but when building the robot you should never make assumptions about alliance partners. You just never know who it will be and what their skill level will be.

4149G already covered the main problems with this, but I’ll add a little.

If alliances were always chosen by some kind of command-and-control overlord, then this would work well. But they aren’t, and even teams who do a good job scouting will usually prefer to pick a higher ranked team than a lower ranked one.

Also, since adding a skyrise section manipulator is not very difficult, why would any good offensive team choose not to have one?
A good offensive team who can build the skyrise and score cubes will still pick a team who can also do both very well over robots that can’t—even if for the purposes of eliminations their skyrise building capabilities are not needed.

The teams that make decisions based on what will look more understandable rather than what will give them the best chance of winning don’t do as well.

Toss up world champion alliance picked the second to last seeded robot.
Specialized robots are very reasonable in high level game play but they have to be good enough at their specialty for them to be worth it obviously.

It’s not always easy to add a skyrise manipulator. A passive intake usually needs to be firm in some direction on the lift, reach low down enough to score the first skyrise, and fold inside the 18" box. From my experience, these problems are difficult to deal with on a scissor lift, because your skyrise intake needs to be attached to the top of the robot while having enough downwards reach to score the first skyrise. Of course, I could make it work, but that’d require me to sacrifice a little bit of cube-scoring, and that doesn’t make sense for a robot designed to start on the non-skyrise building tile.

Conversely, a skyrise-cube robot doesn’t need to be able to score 3-5 cubes at a time. That would be a waste of motor torque when scoring skyrise sections. Instead, it would likely want to focus on descoring and shoving matches to help out its partner after it’s done building the skyrise.

Many (most) good teams consider other factors than ranking. I’d personally want to be with a team who wanted a robot that was designed to win the elimination matches than with a team who was designed to look good on the rankings. Maybe the question should be this: is it worth it to scrap a design because it can’t be good at both things?

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I feel like the focus has shifted somewhere along the way from “how can I build the best robot possible” to “how can I win.”

Yes, it’s awesome to do well, but the whole reason that were in VEX is to build the best, most efficient, and awesome robot that our team can. If you can do that well, winning will usually result. I know for me personally, some of the best competitions last year weren’t the ones we won, but instead the ones where we didn’t make any mistakes, where the refs made good calls, and where we felt like we performed the best that we could.

Where are you getting that impression? from Vex in general? or from just this particular thread?

I try to stress to my kids that Vex is more than just building robots. It is also about strategy, thinking how the thing you created is going to make a difference in the final outcome. It is also about communication - talking to your alliance partners so you can make the best use of whatever you have.

I tell them these things not because I’m obsessed with their winning but because I want them to learn not to get “tunnel vision” when it comes to solving problems. Sometimes in life there are better ways to solve a problem than to build a new machine for it. Sometimes there is a social solution. Sometimes the problem has more to do with human communication, perceptions, or psychology rather than a nuts-and-bolts issue. Thinking about strategy and putting yourself in the mind of your opponent helps stimulate multiple intelligences, gets the whole brain involved.

Tunnel vision is a very common phenomenon even in the “real” world. I’ve been to seminars advertised to teach people how to transcend tunnel vision… only to learn that the instructor suffered tunnel vision in his suggested methods. I tell my kids: the cattle chute is a place you don’t want to be. I urge them to always question their assumptions and to periodically ask themselves “What sort of cattle chute might I be standing in right now?” There are chutes a’plenty - it’s easy to fall into one. :slight_smile:

I can’t say I really agree with you. In order to look good on the rankings, you have to be somewhat good at the game. Meaning that you would probably do pretty well in eliminations. It’s also, correct me if I’m wrong but it’s the top 8 teams after qualifications that get to pick an alliance for elimination. Those 8 robots are literally the best ranked at the competition, and they are the ones in eliminations. You don’t design a robot to bee good at eliminations or look good on the leaderboards. You design a robot to play the game, that’s it. No matter what strategy you choose to take, at the end of the day, everyone’s design is built to play the same game.

The height is still an issue. True omni robot should be able to score on any goals and skyrises. We can do both but we can only dump loads of 2 on 5 stage skyrises, so I would not call us an omni scoring team.

Because some teams want to not only have the best robot possible, they want to be the best alliance partner possible.

This is not necessarily true. In a random qualification schedule, a team can often be matched with all the best teams against all the worst ones, or have a similarly easy schedule and they could end up in a high seed regardless of their own performance. This often results in poorly-performing robots ranking high, and highly-performing robots with harder schedules ranking poorly. For example, we went to one tournament and the undefeated 1st seed (8-0-0) was a slow, shoddy robot that could barely score. They were then defeated 2-0 in the QFs by the 8th seeded alliance.

Also remember that the 2012 World Champion robot with the highest influence on the game was the ~70th seed in its division because its strategy, although deadly when it worked, was dependent on an efficient alliance partner.

A picking team that scouts based on ability and performance will almost always be more successful than one that scouts by rank.

Somewhat from this thread, but also some from VEX in general. I’m not knocking strategic planning or anything, that definitely is a huge part of doing well and learning as much as possible in VEX - we have 3 team members devoted to different areas of strategic planning and team/match coordination this year. I just feel as though there has been a focus shift along the way, and the only reason that I’m bringing this up is because I feel like it could potentially cause quite a bit of ‘tunnel vision’ in the future.

As far as do it all robots go I feel we have a good understanding of how tricky they can be. Last season we had a do it all robot that could score buckies, manipulate Large balls, high hang with a large ball and could descore the stash (2527A Robot Reveal 2014 - YouTube). Fitting all these on to one robot was a challenge and was a lot of fun designing and building but I’m not convinced we had any one feature (besides descoring) that was much better than what other people had. In sack attack we started with a very simple robot and continued to add things such as a fully automated descorer, a high goal scorer and a two speed drive. After these two season I have come to a conclusion that each build strategy (adding on to a simple one task robot and building one made to complete all tasks), when building add on the robot seems to be more reliable but making a robot at the end of the season to do it all may be a better robot but if you aren’t careful then you can be much less reliable and less familiar with that robot. I suggests everyone tries each build strategy to see what fits them but I personally like adding on to what I started with.:slight_smile: