Competitions are free and open to the public. They consist of several rounds of qualifying matches, after which a select number of teams advance to a series of playoff matches to determine a champion alliance.
Each match is 2 minutes and 30 seconds long. The Autonomous Period is the first 15 seconds of the match in which robots operate without any drive team control or input. The Teleoperated Period is the remaining 2 minutes and 15 seconds of a match in which robots may be directly controlled by drivers and/or human players.
The Drive Team
The drive team does the driving of the robot at competitions. Drive team members are selected from a group of students who voluntarily try out to be a drive team member. Members are then selected based on performance, temperament, and other factors. At the start of every competition the drive team attends a mandatory meeting. In addition to driving the robot they are responsible for transporting the robot to the field from the pit and back and carrying the bot onto and off the field for each match. They work with the other drive teams of alliances members.
Each team at a competition is assigned an area to be their pit. This is where the team’s equipment is housed, as well as any team spirit items or displays. A lot goes on in the pit area during a competition. Between matches it is where repairs are made, programming is updated, and batteries are charged. It is also the place place where alliance members meet to plan strategy for upcoming matches. Judges visit the pit to interview team members about the robot and their experiences in FIRST. these interviews are crucial to the team potentially winning awards. Other visitors to the pit are also encouraged. Tours are given as time permits, and as a show of team spirit, buttons and other swag are handed out to those who stop by.
Throughout the qualifying matches of a competition, our scouts pay special attention to other teams’ strategies, their robot’s capabilities, and the temperaments of the drive team and their coaches. Information gathered during this time is put into a computer for analysis, then used in choosing alliances should our team advance to the playoff matches.
Team spirit adds an extra layer of fun to the already exciting competitions. We show team spirit by cheering loudly in the stands, wearing team gear and other costumes, and displaying team signs. In the spirit of gracious professionalism, we show this level of excitement not only for our own team, but also in cheering for other teams. We love to visit other teams’ pits, and exchange team swag. We also love participating in arena-wide activities, like called dances, singing, and chants, that take place between matches.