Ever gone to an FTC tournament and didn’t understand what the heck was going on? On your way to your first tournament and don’t know what to expect? You’ve come to the right place.

Contents of this page: what happens at tournaments, how teams are scored, how qualification matches work, and an overview of tasks that robots can complete in this year’s FTC Game “Velocity Vortex”.

So how does a tournament work?

Each team has one “interview” session with 1-2 judges, as well as several qualification matches throughout the day. All are open to the general public.

Wait, an interview? With judges?!

Yes! At the tournament, every team has a private 15-minute “interview” session. This is teams’ opportunity to tell judges about the process of building their competition robot, as well as anything non-robot-related that they may have done during the season (i.e. outreach, fundraising efforts, etc.). If a team does especially well in one category (i.e. community outreach), a judge visits them later in the day to ask them more about that topic. At the end of the tournament, awards are given to teams who were at the top of certain categories.

How do the qualification matches work?

One match consists of four teams, each team with one robot. The teams are divided into alliances of two teams each, making the red alliance and blue alliance. Each team manages and controls their own robot as the alliances go head-to-head in a race for points.

How long is a match?

Each match is 2 minutes and 30 seconds long. The first 30 seconds are an autonomous period (robots are pre-programmed and cannot be controlled by drivers). The last 2 minutes are tele-operated period (teams can control their robot).

Why are there three team members at the field, instead of just one with the controller?

There are two controllers available for manually operating your robot during the tele-op period. Although some teams decide to only program on one controller, most teams use both. For example, Driver A with Controller 1 might drive the robot, but Driver B with Controller 2 controls other subsystems like a scissor lift or shooting mechanism.

The third person is called the “coach“, but is also a team member. Their job is to work with the alliance partner’s coach to form a strategy. During the match, the coaches stand behind their drivers from the same team. They usually do things like warning drivers of other robots, give directions to the drivers, or update the drivers on how much time is left in the match.

How do you get points in a match?

In a match, any points earned are for an alliance, not for the individual team. This makes the randomization of alliances interesting – a good alliance partner will work with you to earn the most points for your alliance, even if they choose to prioritize your robot’s abilities over their own. Points are earned by completing different tasks on the field.

Continue reading for specific ways to earn points in the 2016-2017 FTC Game “Velocity Vortex”.

Velocity Vortex:

The main goal of Velocity Vortex is to score small wiffle balls (called “particles”) in various areas of the playing field. More details below.

Autonomous period (first 30 seconds): robots perform pre-programmed tasks such as:

  • Score particles by launching them into the “center vortex” (15 points per particle)
  • Score particles in a “corner vortex” (5 points per particle)
  • Push a button on a beacon to make it their alliance color (30 points per bacon)
  • Park partially (5 points) or fully (10 points) on the black diamond in the middle of the field
  • Park partially (5 points) or fully (10 points) on the ramps in the corners of the field

Teleop period (2 minutes): drivers control robots to perform tasks such as:

  • Score particles by launching them into the “center vortex” (5 points per particle)
  • Score particles in a “corner vortex” (1 point per particle)
  • Claim a beacon (10 points per beacon that is the alliance’s color at the end of the match)

End Game (last 30 seconds of teleop period): drivers control robots to perform tasks that can only be completed during End Game such as:

  • Claim a beacon (10 points per beacon that is the alliance’s color at the end of the match)
  • Pick up a large “cap ball” and lift it off the ground (10 or 20 points, depending on whether it’s above 76 cm)
  • Score a “cap ball” by putting it on the “center vortex” (40 points)

For more details about FTC alliances and the 2016-2017 FTC Game, watch the video below.