FIRST Competitions are different from more school competition events. Every year the game, the rules, and the goals change. There are, however, a few things that do remain constant year-to-year.
- The tasks the robots have to do are different from year to year, but there are always multiple ways to earn points.
- Each match only lasts between 2-3 minutes, leading to quick and intense matches at every tournament competition. It is common for each team to take part in 12-20 matches at any given tournament.
- Each match pits three teams vs three other teams, split into blue and red alliances. Except during playoffs, your opponents and alliance teammates are random, so your robot has to be able to help out whatever team they're on.
- During playoffs Alliances are set for the remainder of the tournament. Top seeded teams choose their partners for the rest of the competition.
The 2019 Competition, for example, had both alliances racing to place "hatch panels" (clear plastic disks about 19" in diameter) and "cargo" (large inflated rubber balls) into goals on the field. Cargo can only be placed in goals that have a hatch panel installed, so our robot focused on placing the hatch panels so our teammates can score as much as they'd like.
Our robot performed great this past season, leading us to be selected to take part on playoff alliances at both our district tournaments. Our performance lead us to qualifying for the Michigan State Championship for the first time in Whiteford history! Here is a clip from a tournament match from last year (our robot is starting on the top blue position).