Failure is an option

“The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.” – Henry Ford

This year was our second attempt at the Robot in 1 Weekend challenge where we work to build an FTC robot, as the name implies, in one weekend.  For this event we try our hardest, as always, to use the tools and resources that we feel most FTC teams have.  This means we are building in a house with a garage, some hand tools, and limited power tools.  Through our gracious sponsors and local teams we are able to kit out with a bunch of parts to try and make this happen.  Last years robot worked well and we were happy with it, even having a team make it to the world championship on a robot evolved from what we did.  This year didn’t go as well, you might even say we failed.

“Fail often to succeed sooner” – Ideo Slogan

This year the FTC Game Design committee threw one of the most challenging and exciting games seen in decades, if ever, in the FIRST program, FRC included. The main scoring element is a daunting mountain that robots, if they choose to, are tasked with climbing.  The highest scoring part of this game is the high hang, worth a whopping 80 points, basically equal to a perfect autonomous.  Using our normal strategy tools we decided we should do this because that’s what we thought you needed to do to win.  While this analysis is probably true, the actual physical task is very difficult.  Our state affiliate partner is nice enough to let us use the field from kickoff for the weekend build, and when it made its way to us across the state a full third of our build season was over, and pretty much everything we assumed about climbing this literal mountain was wrong.

You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone.” – Johnny Cash

Ever since we started Robot in 3 Days, (and Robot in 1 Weekend) we have discussed amongst ourselves what we would do if, or when, we failed a build, and every time we have come to the same conclusion: nothing.  Showing our failures falls right in line with what Ri3D and Ri1W is about.  It’s about inspiring teams, and sometimes showing what doesn’t not work is as good as, or even better than, showing them what does.  I hope teams look closely at what we and the other fast builds have done this past weekend and learn from it.  Every other build seemed to have the some of the same issues we did.  Take these lessons and build upon them, the two wheel drive omni is not going to get up the ramp and let you hang, the bars are going to bind up your gears, they are going to catch your bot from climbing, and things will go wrong.

Just remember, failure is ok.


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