Scouting is the process of recording the abilities of other teams to identify the ideal partners during elimination matches. Even if you don’t expect to be picking during alliance selection, you definitely want to be prepared in case you do make it in.
Good scouting is imperative if you wish to succeed in the elimination rounds of any robotics tournament. While some teams have moved to electronic scouting, there’s no need for buying expensive devices or developing fancy apps. The following is a guide to paper-based scouting that 604 uses.
There are two main types of scouting: pit scouting and match scouting. In pit scouting, two team members go up to each team in the pits and ask basic questions about their robot and its capabilities. It’s also a good idea to get a photo of each robot at this time. In match scouting, a team of scouters (usually one per robot) watches and records how the robot performs on the field during actual matches.
Before The Tournament
First, determine the qualities that you would want in an alliance partner’s robot. This is very important because it will help you decide which team to pick as your alliance partner. These qualities can include physical robot qualities, like size and weight, or tasks that the robot can complete, such as scoring balls in the low goal or scoring gears.
Most of these qualities will end up going on the pit scouting sheet. A pit scouting sheet will include robot qualities and tasks that the robot can complete. On the pit scouting sheet, you should have all the things that a robot could do in the game and spaces to say whether the robot can do those tasks or not. On a 2017 pit scouting sheet, some of the things that you should include are the ability to score balls, the ability to climb a rope, and how many balls the robot can hold. You should print out 1 pit scouting form for each team at the tournament. As an example, this is 604’s 2017 pit scouting sheet.
You will also need to develop a match scouting sheet. A match scouting sheet should include spaces to say how well a robot could complete all the tasks of the game. You should not include things that you can already find out while pit scouting. On a 2017 match scouting sheet, you can include how many gears a robot can score in a match or how many balls a robot can score in a match. You should print out 12 match scouting forms for each team at the tournament (you’ll probably have extras, but those can be used at future competitions). As an example, this is 604’s 2017 match scouting sheet.
After you make match scouting and pit scouting sheets, you need to make a spreadsheet for every team. This can be done using Microsoft Excel or any other spreadsheet making program. You can use an online spreadsheet program, like Google Sheets, but you should avoid them if possible because the WiFi at a tournament is usually not very good. You should make a workbook for every tournament. In the workbook, you should have one spreadsheet for every team. It is easiest if you make one sample spreadsheet and then copy it until you have one for each team. On the spreadsheet, you should include the team number and the name so that you can just search for the team number in the workbook and easily go to whatever sheet you want. The first thing you should put on the spreadsheet is all of the information from your pit scouting form in one table. You should also make a match scouting table. You should include all of the parts of your match scouting form on your match scouting form. You can use our blank, season-agnostic, scouting spreadsheet as a starting point.
An example of a table could be:
|Number of Gears Scored in Auton||2|
|Number of High Goals in Auton||3|
|Number of Low Goals in Auton||3|
Copy and Paste the table to the right of the existing table with one column in between the two tables. Then, copy and paste more tables until you have around 13 tables in one horizontal line. The first table will be for the team’s averages. You can use the average formula for each cell in the average table so that it is the average of all the other numbers in that row.
At The Tournament
On load-in day, you don’t really have to do anything. Just make sure that you have all of the scouting sheets that you need and that your spreadsheets are ready for the tournament.
On the first day of the tournament (practice day), you should scout the pits of all of the teams at the tournament. Most teams are still getting inspected and fixing their robots in the morning, so you should start pit scouting after lunch. You should go to every team’s pit and ask them about their robot. You should use your pit scouting sheets and fill one out for each team’s robot. After you finish scouting all of the teams, you should enter the information from each team into their spreadsheet in the pit scouting section.
On the first day of qualification matches, you should scout all of the matches. You should have one person entering the data into the online spreadsheets, 6 people scouting (one for each robot), and one backup scouter (it’s a good idea to have more backups if you have enough people). The 6 people that are scouting robots should each be scouting one robot every match. One easy way to assign robots is for each person to be scouting the robot from the same driver station spot every match. For example: one person would scout the top red driver station, one would scout the middle red driver station, and so on. They should fill out the match scouting sheet for the robot that they are scouting. After the round, the person entering the data will enter the data from each scouting sheet onto the spreadsheet for the correct team. The backup scouter can help the person entering the data by reading the information from the scouting sheets.
After all of the matches for the first day are over, you should have a scouting meeting where you determine which robots would be good alliance partners. You should have a meeting with everyone on your team so that you can determine which robots would be good partners for your robot. You can also re-evaluate and change your scouting strategy for the next day.
On the second day of qualification matches, you should continue to scout all of the qualification matches. A team’s performance can change drastically between both days, so make sure to scout really well on both days.
At the end of the qualification matches, if you are in the top 8 teams, you will need to pick 2 other teams to be on your alliance. If you are in the top 16 teams, you will probably be picked in the first round, so you can help pick your alliance’s third team.
During the elimination matches, sit back and watch the matches. Good luck!