We’re seeing lots of activity on the forums over our release of the Practice Field policy for Championship. I’m going to try to clarify some things, and let you know about changes we’re making.
Our primary concern with the practice fields is safety. With this year’s game, we feel that the only safe way to run the Formal Practice Fields, where robots may be driving and shooting over long distances and at high velocities, is with no humans on the field. The match play timing structure and use of FMS were a result of the desire to make sure that all robots are enabled and disabled in a controlled manner on these fields.
Another reason we want to use the FMS system on the Formal Practice Field is so we can uncover any issues during a match that doesn’t count towards team rankings. Our working assumption is that you would rather have something go wrong during a practice match than during one of your qualification matches. A typical complaint we’ve received this year is ‘It worked on the practice field, but not on the competition field.’ Our new approach gives us more of a chance to get to those problems. CSAs will be available in the pits to help you sort through these things. To provide additional assistance with software issues, ports for code download and debugging (including FTP) will be open on the Formal Practice Field FMS system.
As far as concerns that FMS will slow things down, it has been running very smoothly this season. Robots are connecting quickly, with very few issues. If you are in doubt, ask any FTA who has worked the field for the last few years.
Without having run Ultimate Ascent matches in this back-to-back fashion and without the scoring system, we can only estimate how long it will take to reset all the robots and start playing again. We felt it was best to be conservative about the amount of play time you will receive in the Practice Field Policy. As we better understand how long resetting these fields takes, we plan to adjust the number and/or timing of matches played within each time slot in order to maximize the play time that teams have on the Formal Practice Field. The Practice Field Policy has been updated to indicate that the two matches will be a minimum.
The Informal Practice Fields will include a pyramid, set at the competition-field distance from the disc goals. As noted in the write-up, they will be first-come, first served. We will have a volunteer present, to help with the belaying system. I count on everyone’s Gracious Professionalism in using this shared resource.
You can find the revision 2 of the Championship Practice Field Policy here: http://www.usfirst.org/sites/default/files/uploadedFiles/Robotics_Programs/FRC/Game_and_Season__Info/2013/2013_FRC_Championship_Practice_Fields.pdf.
I’ll blog again soon.