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  • Robot reuse across seasons

    My team had a couple of meetings over spring break and they decided to keep their robot again for next season (so this will be season 3 with "Roberta") and made some improvements to her: she's level (again!) and has more sensors.

    Out of curiosity, how many teams reuse their robots from one season to the next? Do they seem to just keep getting heavier each time they're modified?

  • #2
    Re: Robot reuse across seasons

    Originally posted by bdwheele View Post
    Out of curiosity, how many teams reuse their robots from one season to the next? Do they seem to just keep getting heavier each time they're modified?
    I'd say > 75% of the robot chassis gets used the following season. Most of the changes between seasons are related to positioning of sensors at the front of the robot. The robot tends to get lighter, not heavier, as the team figures out that they don't need battleship-grade construction for bumpers and other chassis components.

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    • #3
      Re: Robot reuse across seasons

      Originally posted by dnb View Post
      I'd say > 75% of the robot chassis gets used the following season. Most of the changes between seasons are related to positioning of sensors at the front of the robot. The robot tends to get lighter, not heavier, as the team figures out that they don't need battleship-grade construction for bumpers and other chassis components.
      Interesting. Added sensors aside, theirs is slowly getting heavier. Not by a lot, and it doesn't seem overbuilt. They've added about 60 parts since the first build in August 2012 -- with about half of them coming from this last revision. They had to do some major rework to get the light sensors to fit up front. However, not counting the front wall roller extension, it's only about 16mm longer than their first build and the same width.

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      • #4
        Re: Robot reuse across seasons

        Never in my 8 seasons and 13 teams has any team started with any contraption, design, program or artifact from the previous season. The only thing they get to carry forward is what they learned from the previous seasons. I strongly suggest that the students will learn a LOT more if you make them start over each season. If not and your team isn't 100% intact from the previous season you also risk teaching the kids that it is okay to use work they didn't create. What would be the purpose of doing this except a misguided attempt at getting a head start and focusing on winning or a high score rather than the learning process? I'm saddened to think of all the cool design things the students could be learning but don't because the coaches don't insist on a clean start.

        As for programming, it has been my experience that the students need a clean start and to relearn every aspect, especially in their first 3 years in FLL and more so if they are younger at the start of the journey. By the time they've done it over and again, they can quickly re-teach themselves what they need to know and the fresh start gives them a chance to improve things they didn't do the first time or to dream a bigger dream without being held back by decisions of past seasons (or teams).

        Do you students a favor and insist they start from scratch each season.

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        • #5
          Re: Robot reuse across seasons

          Here are a pictures of our robot:

          IMG_4968.jpg

          IMG_5106.jpg

          There are two light sensors tucked in behind the ultrasonic sensor.

          If past seasons are any indication, the following will happen next fall:
          • Many things in front of the drive wheels are going to get reconfigured/rearranged.
          • Nothing behind the drive wheels is going to change. The wheels and rear skid are just crammed in to minimize the footprint so the robot can go anywhere on the table.
          • Most of the season will be spent on programming and attachments and not on the base robot.
          Last edited by dnb; 03-26-2014, 12:07 AM.

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          • #6
            Re: Robot reuse across seasons

            Originally posted by HCSFLL View Post
            If not and your team isn't 100% intact from the previous season you also risk teaching the kids that it is okay to use work they didn't create.
            FWIW, my teams only reuse their own hardware and software. There is no carryover between teams.

            By the time they've done it over and again, they can quickly re-teach themselves what they need to know and the fresh start gives them a chance to improve things they didn't do the first time or to dream a bigger dream without being held back by decisions of past seasons (or teams).
            One can improve things and dream bigger dreams even if one does not start from scratch. Some might argue that it's easier to improve on something or create something if one does not start from scratch.

            What we as coaches need to do is prevent our teams from thinking that their past solutions are "good enough" and that there's no need to learn anything new.

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            • #7
              Re: Robot reuse across seasons

              We start from scratch each season. It's a good learning experience for new team members.
              Coaching the Flamingos since 2004!
              Team #79 - The Blue Cheesy Flamingos
              https://www.facebook.com/KalamazooFLL
              http://www.KalamazooRobotics.org

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              • #8
                Re: Robot reuse across seasons

                The girls once used the same robot and attachments for two consecutive seasons just to see if it could be done. Other than that they built completely different robots each year and approached the solution from completely different directions. For the most part the software was rewritten each year, including the sequencer that never worked the same way twice. When I got a new laptop for their forth season and forgot to copy over the old profile they didn't notice until the season was almost over.

                At the college fair last Tuesday 75% of my old FLL team was gathered around the Purdue table asking about their engineering programs. That was my champion's award

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                • #9
                  Re: Robot reuse across seasons

                  Originally posted by HCSFLL View Post
                  If not and your team isn't 100% intact from the previous season you also risk teaching the kids that it is okay to use work they didn't create. What would be the purpose of doing this except a misguided attempt at getting a head start and focusing on winning or a high score rather than the learning process? I'm saddened to think of all the cool design things the students could be learning but don't because the coaches don't insist on a clean start.
                  I see what you're saying, but I don't fully agree. I think there is a lot of learning potential in reusing an existing solution and improving upon it.

                  Over the last two years we're averaging an 80% carryover so for the core robot most of them did do ALL of this work. The ones that have left have been ones that were more passive in both the robot and the project (except for the one girl that aged out).

                  They're not LEGO junkies. For them they work a lot better if they have a smaller scope to focus on. What they haven't noticed is that the scope of their projects has increased a little bit each time because they're thinking bigger. At some point they may decide to start from scratch, time will tell.

                  During the meetings last week they talked about what they liked and didn't like about the 2013 robot and what kind of things they could do to improve it. They split into groups focusing on a single improvement and each took a bot and made changes as needed. The final product was a mix of all of their improvements. It was impressive to see how they were able to combine all of their changes into a coherent finished product -- which they copied to all of the bots.

                  This isn't some nefarious plan for them get the highest scores -- it's a learning exercise that lets them build on what they already know and expand upon it -- including creating improvements that they find out to be anti-improvements in the future (as the unlevel robot + wall follower combination turned out to be last year, and the swivel caster they used the first year).

                  They're going to use Body Forward over the summer to learn more about using sensors, especially since I've banned their odometry-based myblocks except in special cases Modifying the robot to be a reasonable sensor platform was the first step for that. It's entirely possible that they'll have to reconfigure it for World Class, but since all of them will have done it during a low-pressure time, they'll be able to handle it.

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                  • #10
                    Re: Robot reuse across seasons

                    Originally posted by Dean Hystad View Post
                    At the college fair last Tuesday 75% of my old FLL team was gathered around the Purdue table asking about their engineering programs. That was my champion's award
                    +1, Like, thumbs up and every other social media term I can think to say I LOVE this update. We need more of us girls in engineering!
                    Coaching the Flamingos since 2004!
                    Team #79 - The Blue Cheesy Flamingos
                    https://www.facebook.com/KalamazooFLL
                    http://www.KalamazooRobotics.org

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Robot reuse across seasons

                      Originally posted by dnb View Post
                      Here are a pictures of our robot:

                      [ATTACH=CONFIG]3864[/ATTACH]

                      [ATTACH=CONFIG]3865[/ATTACH]

                      There are two light sensors tucked in behind the ultrasonic sensor.

                      If past seasons are any indication, the following will happen next fall:
                      • Many things in front of the drive wheels are going to get reconfigured/rearranged.
                      • Nothing behind the drive wheels is going to change. The wheels and rear skid are just crammed in to minimize the footprint so the robot can go anywhere on the table.
                      • Most of the season will be spent on programming and attachments and not on the base robot.
                      Nice bot!

                      Here's Roberta as she stands today (was playing with SR 3D Builder and thought their bot might be a nice trial model -- I still prefer LDD):
                      fr.jpg
                      bl.jpg

                      The whole "front porch" is new since they pushed their attachment motor forward to make room for the light sensors -- and they wanted to balance it out by moving the EV3 backward. She started off as http://nxtprograms.com/NXT2/3-motor_chassis/index.html in Summer 2012 and some elements of that design remain, but she has changed quite a bit from the original. I think this is something like their 6th revision of her.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Robot reuse across seasons

                        Originally posted by Dean Hystad View Post
                        At the college fair last Tuesday 75% of my old FLL team was gathered around the Purdue table asking about their engineering programs. That was my champion's award
                        That's awesome -- and I can say that as an IU grad!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Robot reuse across seasons

                          Originally posted by bdwheele View Post
                          Nice bot!

                          Here's Roberta as she stands today (was playing with SR 3D Builder and thought their bot might be a nice trial model -- I still prefer LDD):
                          [ATTACH=CONFIG]3869[/ATTACH]
                          [ATTACH=CONFIG]3868[/ATTACH]

                          The whole "front porch" is new since they pushed their attachment motor forward to make room for the light sensors -- and they wanted to balance it out by moving the EV3 backward. She started off as http://nxtprograms.com/NXT2/3-motor_chassis/index.html in Summer 2012 and some elements of that design remain, but she has changed quite a bit from the original. I think this is something like their 6th revision of her.
                          Nice design. What part is that you are using for the rear "wheel"?
                          Coaching the Flamingos since 2004!
                          Team #79 - The Blue Cheesy Flamingos
                          https://www.facebook.com/KalamazooFLL
                          http://www.KalamazooRobotics.org

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Robot reuse across seasons

                            Thanks! I'm pretty proud of what the girls have done with it.

                            It's a Technic 5x5 Disk. I think they came with bionicle sets. Anyway, it is free rolling and the edges of the wheel are rounded so it doesn't grab the mat when sliding sideways.

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                            • #15
                              Re: Robot reuse across seasons

                              Originally posted by bdwheele View Post
                              Out of curiosity, how many teams reuse their robots from one season to the next? Do they seem to just keep getting heavier each time they're modified?
                              From year 1 to year 2 -- reused but highly modified.
                              From year 2 to year 3 -- designed from scratch based on this year's challenge, but took better ideas from old robot, added EV3 brain, and built infrastructure out of box-frames and H-frames (which vastly reduced the need to repair the 'bot -- at least, that has been my observation)

                              Year 4? No idea. Not even sure if they will do FLL next year, but if not, they'll do FTC or something (though I'd prefer FLL with most of them since there is actual programming and science involved, rather than just engineering and minimal programming).

                              I'll have a group of a dozen soon-to-be 4th graders coming up for a new team, too, so I can hopefully avoid all the horrible coaching mistakes I made with the first group (and make a completely new set of horrible coaching mistakes).
                              Twitter --- Facebook

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