One of the reasons we decided on building a practice robot this year was to enable the team’s drivers to get additional practice between events (since we can’t touch the competition bot between events).
Our practice bot was built off an older AM14U3 chassis from last season (it was actually a mule bot that we had used to test some stuff out on), with a slightly different gearbox than our competition bot, but otherwise is an exact copy of Ms Calculated. This lets us make modifications to the practice bot and have them easily replicated on the competition robot! In fact, we built the twin first, and taking lessons from it, built the competition robot.
Some changes we made while using the practice bot include changing the locations of the cameras for better scoring/visual ability, and making the elevator gearbox faster. These changes will be made to Ms Calculated at our first event in a couple of weeks.
Now, a practice bot is only useful if it gets used for practice. To that end, we spent the entire Saturday getting driver practice in. This gave our drivers the ability to practice their sandstorm driving (and driving in general), as well as gave the programming team a chance to tweak the AutoDock code. We’ve set a target for ourselves to be able to score a hatch panel on ROCKET 2 and start to return to the loading station in the 15 seconds of SANDSTORM. The result? Let’s just say we need a little bit of work to do it consistently.
Our times varied from run to run, but with a bit more practice, we should be good to go. This week, we’re letting our backup drivers loose on the practice bot, as well as playing a little defense with last year’s robot, to give a more realistic feel to driver practice.