Drive team plays a pivotal role at competition. The members of drive team are responsible for preparing the robot before each match, placing the robot on the field, controlling the robot during the match, and removing the robot after the match. A well-coordinated drive team is essential to success at competition, and typically contains four different roles:
Coach: The drive team coach is responsible for leading drive team, developing strategies before each match, and providing directions to the robot driver. The robot coach is not allowed to touch the robot directly.
Driver: The driver physically controls the robot during the match.
Human player: The two human players interact with the field, completing game specific tasks. Human players may also act as aids to the coach/driver by monitoring penalties or the current condition of the field.
Technician: The technician helps transport the robot on/off the field. The technician is not allowed to participate during the match.
Before the match
Before each match, drive team members prepare the robot and develop a match strategy.
Match preparation begins when an FRC volunteer notifies the team that their match is approaching. Drive team then loads the robot onto a cart and moves into the robot queue beside the field, alongside 4311's alliance partners for that match. At this point, drive team members configure the robot for its match, charging the pneumatics system and setting up other subsystems for operation.
While the robot is being prepared, the drive team coach and driver meet with 4311's alliance members to create a match strategy.
A match strategy is always an essential part of match preparation. An effective match strategy allows alliance members to specialize in their strengths, provides alliance members with clear goals and objectives during the match, and ensures that teams do not accidentally obstruct one another.
To form a match strategy, the drive team coach and driver should approach 4311's alliance partners and initiate a conversation. To begin, 4311's members should ask alliance partners about their robots' abilities, and gain a sense of the other robots' strengths and weaknesses. Then, members should brainstorm with alliance partners about different ways to work together. Members should consider the possible outcomes when different robots perform different tasks, and consider which robot can perform each task most efficiently. In doing so, alliance partners should also take into account any scouting data about the opposing alliance - if one of the opposing teams is known to be weak to defense, for example, it might be wise to play defense against them. Finally, 4311 should decide with its alliance partners which robot will perform which tasks, and where each robot will be on the field during each period of the game. Above all, it is most important to set clear expectations, so that each alliance member can rely on their partners to be accurate and predictable.
During the match
During the match, the drive coach and driver must work together to execute the alliance strategy.
Controlling the robot is a difficult endeavor, so the driver should focus solely on that - the driver should not attempt to make independent decisions, because that detracts from the concentration required to drive the robot effectively. Instead, it is the drive coach's role to make strategic decisions and issue orders to the driver.
At all times, the drive coach should be assessing the situation, ensuring that 4311 is complying with the match strategy, and looking for potential opportunities. To make the driver's job as easy as possible, the drive coach should tell the driver exactly where/when to drive, pick up game pieces, or play defense. The drive coach is also responsible for monitoring the remaining time left in the match.
If the drive coach cannot monitor all aspects of the game effectively, one of the human players may also be employed as a "spotter." In past years, 4311 has utilized human players to watch for penalties while the drive coach surveys the field.
Taking advantage of opportunities
One of the most important aspects of being competitive involves adapting one's current strategy and recognizing opportunities. During competition, 4311 can get ahead by making the intelligent use of its resources and taking advantage of opportunities when they arise. If a new strategy yields good results in a match, for example, 4311 should try using it again in the future. Or, if a team has a specific strength/weakness, 4311 should think about how to capitalize on that. All in all, the team should always consider its present situation and how to improve current outcomes.