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  • Do we need a "new" robot each year?

    I was told by a robot design judge at our competition today that our team needs to build a new robot every year according to the rules. We were told that only improving last year's design wasn't good enough. Can anyone refer me to the part of the rules that state this or rubric that tells us to not just improve last year's robot? Note that we added one new team member to out team this year. The other 5 team members know and have detailed knowledge of how the previous robot was built last year and how to operate it.

    (Thank you to the others who posted on my original post which was in the robot game strategy section. I reposted this to be in the more appropriate section.)
    Last edited by Arrell; 12-15-2019, 07:45 AM.

  • #2
    That judge was wrong. There is no requirement to build a new robot every year.

    That being said. Custom building a robot to suit the game is probably a good idea. For example, for the smart move game, there was a huge benefit to being able to fit under the bridge. Look at the field and ask yourself the following questions:

    Are there any narrow spaces it would be advantageous for my robot to fit through? This will influence robot width.
    Are there any short spaces it would be advantageous for my robot to fit under. This will influence robot height.
    Is there any non-flat terrain it would be advantageous for my robot to drive over? This will influence the type of drivebase you decide on.

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    • #3
      There's no rule or rubric that requires building a new robot very year, but it may be a good idea anyway. The reasons to build a new robot every season are
      • It allows the robot to be designed for the rules and board constraints of a particular season. For example, this season has more constraints on overall robot size.
      • It makes sure the current kids on a team are aware of why the robot was designed the way it was, and who built it.
      • Building robots is a fun part of FLL for many kids.
      • Building a new robot is a chance to try new and different things. It is a learning opportunity.
      Having said that, there are certainly many teams each season that just do minor modifications or build new attachments, leaving their base robot largely unchanged. Almost any robot that can move can solve many or most of the missions each season.

      The choice is up to each team how they wish to allocate their time and efforts.
      Last edited by timdavid; 12-15-2019, 03:01 PM.

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      • #4
        "Improving last year's design" is a good thing for a team to be doing. It shows that the team is learning and has a consistent approach to solving the challenges each year.

        Unfortunately, there is great inconsistency in how judging is done and how judges are trained.
        Last edited by philso; 12-16-2019, 12:12 PM.

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        • #5
          I doubt this is a judge education problem. Far more likely a communication problem. While judging I get to see teams do and say all kinds of goofy things that supposedly can be traced back to something a judge said or a referee said. When I bother to track these down it nearly always was a miscommunication. The team thinks they are asking question A, but the referee or judge hears question B. The ref or judge gives an answer to B, and the answer, when combined with the original question becomes C, a bit of FLL misinformation. The misinformation gets posted on the forum and we pile on, and before long this will become a piece of FLL lore and there will be referees and judges saying you need to build a fresh robot each year because they remember reading it somewhere that was kind of official.

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          • #6
            Thank you to all who spent their time to comment on my post! My main reason for posting was so that I, my teams head coach, can better understand the rules, the rubrics, and know how to guide the team in the right direction. I have no doubt the judge who made this comment had every good intention of telling me about their interpretation of what the rules, rubrics, etc. are.

            For this post, not to disparage any judges, I previously didn't get into all of the details of the conversation I personally had with this judge and other judges at the competition. I tried to only share the highlights, so I could get the conversation started to help me get a better understanding of what I might be missing and to possibly see someone else's perspective.

            Please note that I don’t believe this was a communications problem with the judge and me. Please allow me to explain further. I (the teams head coach) was first approached by the head robot design judge near the end of the tournament. We had a lengthy conversation about this topic where I was told that the team should completely disassemble the robot each year and build a new robot. I was also told that simply improving or modifying last year’s design was not good enough. I explained to the judge, that I didn't understand those requirements and that my team would work on that next year. I also told the judge I didn't know what rule, rubric, etc. the judge was referring to. I was told by the judge that it would be better for the team at the next competition and at future competitions at the same location if the team did this.

            Later after the competition, I was approached by another judge at this previously mentioned competition, who talked to me about this same topic. This second judge told me that other judges gave the example that their team completely disassembled the robot every year. It was said that the robot was disassembled with no parts connected from the previous year and then a new robot was built.

            I have dived deep into the Game Guide, Participation Rules, Rubrics, etc. to better understand where these judges might have been coming from. The only wording, I can find is in the participation rules that might connect to this. In the Participation Rules or the Competition Rules it states the following “All work presented at an official event is the work of the children on the team.” Maybe the team didn’t explain to the judges well enough that they created this robot themselves the previous year and they improved it themselves? There was one additional team member added from last year, but does this mean that you can’t improve on the robot from last year because part of the team didn’t create it?

            Comment


            • #7
              Sorry if this is a double post, but for some reason the post was blocked as unapproved. I'm not sure what caused this, but I am trying again.

              Thank you to all who spent their time to comment on my post! My main reason for posting was so that I, my teams head coach, can better understand the rules, the rubrics, and know how to guide the team in the right direction. I have no doubt the judge who made this comment had every good intention of telling me about their interpretation of what the rules, rubrics, etc. are.

              For this post, not to disparage any judges, I previously didn't get into all of the details of the conversation I personally had with this judge and other judges at the competition. I tried to only share the highlights, so I could get the conversation started to help me get a better understanding of what I might be missing and to possibly see someone else's perspective.

              Please note that I don’t believe this was a communications problem with the judge and me. Please allow me to explain further. I (the teams head coach) was first approached by the head robot design judge near the end of the tournament. We had a lengthy conversation about this topic where I was told that the team should completely disassemble the robot each year and build a new robot. I was also told that simply improving or modifying last year’s design was not good enough. I explained to the judge, that I didn't understand those requirements and that my team would work on that next year. I also told the judge I didn't know what rule, rubric, etc. the judge was referring to. I was told by the judge that it would be better for the team at the next competition and at future competitions at the same location if the team did this.

              Later after the competition, I was approached by another judge at this previously mentioned competition, who talked to me about this same topic. This second judge told me that other judges gave the example that their team completely disassembled the robot every year. It was said that the robot was disassembled with no parts connected from the previous year and then a new robot was built.

              I have dived deep into the Game Guide, Participation Rules, Rubrics, etc. to better understand where these judges might have been coming from. The only wording, I can find is in the participation rules that might connect to this. In the Participation Rules or the Competition Rules it states the following “All work presented at an official event is the work of the children on the team.” Maybe the team didn’t explain to the judges well enough that they created this robot themselves the previous year and they improved it themselves? There was one additional team member added from last year, but does this mean that you can’t improve on the robot from last year because part of the team didn’t create it?

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Arrell View Post
                I (the teams head coach) was first approached by the head robot design judge near the end of the tournament. We had a lengthy conversation about this topic where I was told that the team should completely disassemble the robot each year and build a new robot. I was also told that simply improving or modifying last year's design was not good enough. ...

                I have dived deep into the Game Guide, Participation Rules, Rubrics, etc. to better understand where these judges might have been coming from. The only wording, I can find is in the participation rules that might connect to this. In the Participation Rules or the Competition Rules it states the following "All work presented at an official event is the work of the children on the team". Maybe the team didn't explain to the judges well enough that they created this robot themselves the previous year and they improved it themselves?
                I recommend contacting [email protected] for clarification, and then forwarding the response to the FLL Partner for your region.

                As I stated in a previous post, I think it may be a good idea to rebuild the robot every season, but I don't know of any rule that directly states that requirement. I've been involved with FLL for over a decade now as both a coach and a robot design judge, and I've never heard anyone state a robot must be completely rebuilt each season.
                Last edited by timdavid; 12-19-2019, 11:36 AM.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by timdavid View Post

                  I recommend contacting [email protected] for clarification, and then forwarding the response to the FLL Partner for your region.

                  As I stated in a previous post, I think it may be a good idea to rebuild the robot every season, but I don't know of any rule that directly states that requirement. I've been involved with FLL for over a decade now as both a coach and a robot design judge, and I've never heard anyone state a robot must be completely rebuilt each season.
                  Thanks! I will do, but I kinda worry about a judge being upset I sorta "told on them".

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Arrell View Post

                    Thanks! I will do, but I kinda worry about a judge being upset I sorta "told on them".
                    Judges are tough, they can take it. I think most judges are just trying to evaluate teams consistently and objectively. If there is an honest misunderstanding of the rules to enforce or judging guidelines, people should be willing to change their behavior as needed. If you hear back from FIRST that teams do need to rebuild their bot every year, then we've all learned something to apply going forward.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I am curious to hear what these judges say to teams that use the design from the EV3 kit tutorials.

                      I have seen and heard a few judges say and do things that are not called for in any of the rules, not in keeping with the spirit of the competition and not in keeping with common sense.

                      The first year that our region had qualifier tournaments, the Robot Design Judge that interviewed my two sons did not want to hear from Big Brother and focussed all his questions on Little Brother. My younger son was 9 at the time and small for his age. Since the judging was held in an open area, I overheard the Judge say something to the effect of "I don't believe Little Brother did any of the work on the robot". My younger son was able to answer every one of his questions in great detail because he contributed about half of the missions with little help from Big Brother. The Judge kept interrupting him when he clearly understood what he was talking about to ask yet another question to try to trip him up. The Judge did not realize that Little Brother had been building with Lego since he was about 2 years old. That was the only tournament that they did not win some sort of Robot Design award. They advance to the Regional Championship due to winning a Teamwork award. At the Regional Championship, they were called back to be interviewed by all the Robot Design Judges. They ended up splitting into two groups, one talking to each of my sons. Little Brother later went on to win the Regional Championship then coach and mentor many teams that won multiple awards over several years including several that advanced to the World Festival. For some reason, this Judge felt that my younger son couldn't have done any of the work because he looked young and small. I am not aware of any rules requiring that all team members participate in building and programming the robot. It is fortunate that this Judge never volunteered again because quite a few teams my son competed against and worked with later had some very young looking team members who were brilliant robot builders.

                      This past season, one of the Robot Design Judges at the Regional Championship kept advocating for the best team he and his partner saw and holding up the deliberation process. The only distinguishing feature of his best team was that they used a colour sensor to detect a line somewhere. There were three other pairs of Judges who were discussing their best teams that were all using PID control loops to follow lines, had quick change mechanisms that were much more sophisticated and one even used statistical methods to help optimize their robot design and programs. After a lot of fruitless discussion, we asked why this Judge felt this team should be in contention for Robot Design awards. He replied that his daughters team had won some award at the Qualifier and the best team he saw did the same sorts of things his daughter's team did. I finally had to tell him that his description of the best team he saw would place his team as a mid-level team and that the features that the other Judges were discussing were typical of much more advanced teams. It appears that this particular Judge was exhibiting Dunning Krueger Effect so that his horizons were limited by the abilities of his daughter's team.

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                      • #12
                        There was a nice thread bout reusing robots across seasons a few years ago https://forums.firstinspires.org/for...across-seasons
                        Last edited by timdavid; 12-20-2019, 10:26 AM.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by timdavid View Post

                          I recommend contacting [email protected] for clarification, and then forwarding the response to the FLL Partner for your region.

                          As I stated in a previous post, I think it may be a good idea to rebuild the robot every season, but I don't know of any rule that directly states that requirement. I've been involved with FLL for over a decade now as both a coach and a robot design judge, and I've never heard anyone state a robot must be completely rebuilt each season.
                          I reached out to FLL as you recommended and here was their response.

                          "We do not have a requirement that a team build a completely new robot – whether we are discussing the chassis, drive train or end effectors – for each season. I can see that the judge may have had some confusion if the personnel on the team had changed, and he or she interpreted the team’s remarks as implying that the robot had been designed and built by someone other than the current team members.

                          There are perfectly valid reasons for sticking with the basic elements of a successful design, and improving/enhancing where necessary, especially if the prior season’s design fits the team’s strategy in the current season. It sounds like your team made this evaluation and went with the decision to make some modifications to your existing, prior season design.

                          We do encourage teams who reuse a major design element from a previous season to articulate the changes and advancements that they made in order to make the robot fit the requirements of the current season. However, there is nothing inherently wrong with recycling design elements that work.

                          We will be reaching out to the Judge Advisor for your region to make sure that everyone has a better understanding of the parameters of Robot Design judging."

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