Two Drivers or One?

We are a new team. We need some help understanding some basic things…like do teams normally have two drivers or just one. If you have two drivers, what do the two drivers control? Does one person control the movement of the robot to pick up objects and the other person control doing something with the object?
Thank you for your help!

it’s probably 50/50 on one or two drivers. Usually they get called “driver” and “operator”. It helps promote teamwork to have two people, but is often not necessary if the robot is not too complicated, and if you’re new, you can probably spend the money on other things besides the partner controller and cable.

Also “the more the merrier” doesn’t apply to driving. If you hookup a drivetrain controller and a launcher/dumper controller, the launcher/dumper person does not know what strategy the driver will take and if they want you to launch/dump in 1 second or 5 therefore it is harder to anticipate each other and you score less points…

It’s your call. I’m one of the programmers for all of my school’s teams, and I’ve implemented both. I personally prefer one driver because it requires no communication between operators, so there’s no chance of a mixup.

This is exactly my line of thinking. I’ve seen my teams struggle far too often to like dual controllers. The only time I would ever recommend dual controllers in a match is with a minibot (two separate robots that move independently).

When it’s my decision, I always go with a single controller. The second one then gets used during practice for debugging and testing, but it isn’t connected during a match.

I’ve seen a few teams that have used two drivers quite well (for example, 929W in the past). But I’ve also seen my own team try two drivers and the results were terrible - the two drivers ended up blaming each other for the mistakes.

A good driver can learn to drive a fairly sophisticated robot so long as the buttons on the controller are programmed intelligently. I would suggest you do everything you can think of to keep your robot under the control of a single driver. Make sure the programmer and driver work together to program the buttons in a way that feels natural to the driver.

We have had two drivers for the last 5 years for all of our teams. When two people work at it, the drive and function of a really challenging robot gets a ton easier. The better friends they are the even better drivers they become!

The single most neglected role in VRC is the drive team coach. I don’t see good ones often, but when you see two drivers and a coach with defined roles, they can be very effective. The drivers execute tactics, and the coach manages strategy. Far too often, drivers get obsessed with what’s right in front of their robots and don’t (or can’t) see the score, the whole field, the location of the other 3 robots, and the game objects. A good coach is planning the next move while the drivers are executing the current one. The key, of course, is that the drivers have to trust the coach, the coach has to know what to do, and the drivers need to shut up and do what they are told. Like I said, I don’t see it often, but it is clearly the best use of human resources in a drive team. (This works with one driver, too.)

This is so true. I rewatched oour team at worlds and got a whole new respect for the coach and the abiity of the drive team to work together and communicate. On our team, we have had two drivers each year. One for moving the robot around and one for manipulation functions. Last year, the secondary driver managed the intake and main driver shot.

We experiment to see what works best. It is definitely not one size fits all.

two driver = more buttons = more points


If your drivers have a special connection (i.e. siblings, dating, very close friends, etc.) and can communicate extremely well, then having two drivers can be very good, otherwise, you’re going to spend a lot of time fighting, and not winning the match

You can use a nomal controller and a telephone cable no problem.

Ive tried two many times. Trust me, one is so much easier. if you need more buttons for more functions on your robot you have to many functions.

Unless the robot is quite complex in terms of mechanisms, I wouldn’t be worried about using a partner joystick.


In addition to all the great points made, on a driving team it helps to have a really good communicator to manage the alliance partner.

My club always uses two drivers because we fine it helps build your team better and it gets more people involved. It really depends on what your robot does to what each controller does. We usually have one person on drive/intake and another strictly on the shooting/modifying device on the robot.

But seriously, you don’t need 2 drivers. There are a couple problems that occur when you have 2 drivers such as:

1- It’s harder to practice: When you’re done with your robot before and upcoming comp, it’s much easier to just give your driver the bot to practice over the weekend rather than schedule a meeting.
2- Obvious lack of communication: It’s possible to perfect dual joystick driving, but it’s difficult and you should much rather use that time to perfect single joystick driving.
3- Money: A Joystick costs money. Do you really want to spend resources on something that wont give you a return on performance?

However, there is only one case I know of where it is good to have two drivers. Our team uses two drivers because we feel that is makes more team members feel important. We usually give the partner role to the person who does some of the more neglected jobs in our team, such as media, design notebook, online challenge, etc.

I want to talk about what exactly the partner does. Remember the idea here is to make them feel more important, they don’t necessarily have to do a lot to feel that. Our main driver will basically have full control of the robot as if we only has one driver. We program the partner joystick to do things that might be useful once in a blue moon, such as overriding driver functions and controlling them manually, cutting power to the motors, selecting different LED flash patterns if we have them, among other things. This way, we get that 1 benefit to having two drivers along with the versatility of only having one. For instance, our primary driver can still take the robot home and practice by himself if he wants to, and say, if the secondary driver doesn’t show up to a comp, no worries we will usually be able to manage just fine.

I think this is the most effective use of the partner joystick. It may not be, but this is what we use it for, and it works well for us.

Hope this helps.

We’ve had both, both have worked out well, depends upon the challenge and how much one needs to focus on driving while the other runs the manipulator. Also, depends upon how much softeware you want to put in to help with 1 driver at times. Our 2-driver team was undefeated in world quals this year, our 1 team driver was tops at State. Really just up to the team and how comfortable they feel. I let them figure it out for themselves.

Well, I’ve been known to have perfect communication with my drive partner - myself! :slight_smile: But really, when you’re working on drive controls, try to make it as simple as possible. This precept eliminates a second driver unless it is absolutely necessary. If you’re some hipster with a robot that has multiple bases, for example (ahem, 127C in past years), it’s pretty necessary to have multiple drivers as well. If you have a NBN robot that flies around intaking and shooting, it’s really only going to hurt to have two drivers.