>> Good morning, everyone!
My name is Blair.
I work for FIRST.
I've seen many of you around the country at regionals.
A lot of rookies here.
Let me explain the 15-minute delay.
FIRST is about learning things.
This morning guys from NASA learned that the satellite uplink truck doesn't start
when it was 6 below zero.
It was supposed to be here at 6:30 this morning and arrived 30 minutes ago by
a tow truck.
It got towed back in the parking lot and found out all the digital equipment inside
It is not that bad.
It's all warmed up now so in a few minutes we're ready to broadcast all over the
world via satellite from the frozen satellite uplink truck out back.
Is everybody sick and tired of hearing is it cold enough for you?
Welcome to New Hampshire.
You thought you would have a balmy, warm, New England weekend?
Six below zero today, live, freeze or die is on the license plates.
My job is to -- I thought it sounded easy, was to warm you up.
One of the things that you have to remember this morning is that you are part
of the show.
The audience, this is a live broadcast.
So we need an excited, warm audience.
To warm this place up a little bit just hug the person next to you.
Oh, look at the buzz team.
The buzz is all over each other up there.
And we're going to help you a little bit during this broadcast.
One of the things you have to do is you applaud often.
>> Yeah, baby!
There are some rookies here.
And to help them along a little bit we have Mike Goff, our trained coughing seal.
This is what Mike is going to do.
When he does that, you clap loudly.
But last year we made him do it twice.
You know what?
Mike has a secret.
He is going to the patriots game later today.
It's going to be really cold.
One more time, Mike.
Warm them up, warm them up.
That guy is willingly going to sit outside for three and a half hours tonight.
I have to tell a joke.
There is this guy, he's walking along the streets of Manchester.
It's freezing cold.
He finds a Jeanne bottles and picks it up, rubs it.
A GENIE comes out and says you can have one wish.
This guy thinks, it's freezing cold.
He said I always wanted to go to Hawaii.
But I don't like boats, I don't like planes.
I want you to build me a bridge to Hawaii.
The genie thinks about it a little bit and says a bridge to Hawaii?
That's a huge engineering fete.
Well, let's see.
We'd have to get a project management team together, an engineering team.
The pilings are over a mile deep to the bottom of the ocean.
Fuel stations, hotels all the way to Hawaii.
Is there anything else?
Can you think of something else you might wish that might be a little easier?
The guy thinks a little bit and says, how about the wisdom to understand FIRST.
Thinks about it and says, do you want that two lanes or four?
Vince is my joke writer.
Was my joke writer.
Some interesting facts this year kit parts.
If you stacked all the kits on top of one another they would be higher than two
empire state buildings.
Just to think about some of the things that are happening.
We're on with the show.
Enjoy it, laugh, cry, and applaud loudly.
Have fun, the game is about to begin.
[CHEERING AND APPLAUSE]
>> Six weeks permanently changes what these kids think.
>> We say this is about robots.
It's about ideas and people.
>> That same thing -- >> The first thing I asked is where were the
>> It was amazing.
Inside we had all these parts.
We didn't know where anything went.
>> It just changes the perception of what science and engineering is.
>> Can you still get the battery in there?
>> I don't think so.
>> Using this and the mirror is broken.
>> 42 days before we got to ship this robot.
I know the guy will be here between 2:30 and 3:30, I think.
>> We put all the parts in there, the question is, will they work?
>> Are you ready?
>> No matter how much money you have it comes down to good engineering.
>> We have a pneumatic gripping arm and it's sweet.
>> Are you ready to go?
>> It's not -- if we have a problem, you can come talk to us.
>> These are professionals.
>> We came in pretty confident and then everything changed.
>> Come on, come on!
>> I thought that was a great match.
>> This was a great first season.
>> Determination beats ability every time.
>> Please welcome the chairman of the board of FIRST, Mr. John Abele.
>> Welcome from sunny Manchester, New Hampshire.
We have a lot of guests here in Manchester and, of course, we have 26 other sites
-- 27 other sites from Anchorage to plantation, Florida.
Actually, somebody asked me this morning as I left the hotel if I was going south.
And I said actually, Anchorage, if I remember the Internet this morning, said
it was 28 degrees above zero and where we were it was 18 below.
So we have the variety this morning.
First of all I want to thank NASA for making this possible.
You have the kickoff teams listed on the slide in front of you.
This is an exciting event.
There are more of you out there than there are here and everybody has been looking
forward to the great unveiling which will take place shortly.
But again, thank you very much to NASA for making this possible.
And thank you for warming up the truck.
It's going to be interesting to see how it evolves.
Also I want to thank the volunteers, as well as the board members who have come
and helped make this as successful as it will be.
We have a lot of kickoffs going on throughout the country.
I want to also thank David Brown who is sitting here in the audience who guided
us through five years but will be leaving us as of this meeting.
Thank you and good luck, David.
We're grateful to you.
>> I want to welcome also 225 rookie teams and 720 returning veterans.
[CHEERING AND APPLAUSE]
>> That is, as they say in the business, a 91% retention rate.
That sort of says something about the fanatics and weirdness of our wonderful
Congratulations to you all.
Today we'll introduce to you some new people, some new stories and some great
new features of the kit and, of course, the game.
Today we also want to reintroduce you to FIRST and what it's really about.
That joke Vince was a good one.
Vince, for those of you in TV land, we had a few talks before the thing started
here and Vince had a joke that really pointed out how difficult it is to describe
what the essence of FIRST is.
We will absolutely offer a reward for somebody who does it well.
If you blindfolded me, I could walk through a FIRST competition and I could tell
you it was a FIRST competition, as could you.
It is different from all these other events.
You know, you don't hear booing and you hear the loudspeaker.
This team needs assistance.
These are things that are extraordinary and demonstrates this incredible gracious
professionalism that we have.
It's a wide con -- the excitement and challenge of the competition is extraordinary
and that's what we're going to learn about.
It is very difficult to create a new game every year.
It is a challenge.
It drives some people beserk.
That's what we do to make this thing really exciting.
You can tell a lot about an organization because of its culture, whether it's
a corporation or not for profit or an academy school.
Our challenge is how do you define it?
And part of that definition comes from FIRST's highest award.
That's the Chairman's Award.
And that's the thing that we really like to celebrate the most.
It goes to the team that best exempt files on their team, community and in Dean's
always broad goals, on society in general.
We're going to change society.
Last night we had some Congressmen at Dean's house and Dean has challenged Congressmen
to sponsor teams around the country.
And my view was if we could get Congress to Exhibit the same type of gracious
professionalism that occurs in a first event we wouldn't have problems in this
The championship award was won last year by cybersonic's team.
Let me tell you the names of the sponsor.
NASA, custom finishes, Lutron Electronics and Palisades High School.
This is what first is all about.
It is about collaboration.
These teams don't normally work together.
If we could get them to do it outside of FIRST that would be great as well.
Let's hear it for Cybersonics.
>> We have a brief video we'll show of the team.
Can we start the video, please?
>> A situation is that the team is in, part of the obstacles we've had to
overcome to succeed in this organization is to find sponsor ships amongst our
local community, which is really difficult to do and there is not a lot of corporate
>> We started this network and have over 32 involved now.
It's great for us to see that teams all across the country and world are benefitting.
Cybersonics -- to get the community involved with cybersonic's efforts and well
as inform them about what we've accomplished.
>> Part of the mission is to reach out to future generation of robotics
We've gone to local elementary schools to mentor.
We've had had a program where elementary school students can email us and we respond.
It's an exposure to email and computer skills.
We've gone to presentations to girl scouts and younger kids to teach them simple
circuits, robotics and electrical engineering.
We've also gone and done projects during the holidays with younger students to
teach them problem solving and teamwork.
>> I learned that teamwork is really the crucial element in what makes everything
It's a goal that you think that is something that is worth doing, it's achievable.
You are on example for all of us.
We're going to go beyond that in this coming year.
The FIRST hall of fame is going to come into existence.
It recognizes great times and provides them about an avenue for continued higher
11 teams have earned the right to be inducted into this hall of fame.
A team earns the hall of fame status first of all by winning the Chairman's Award,
which is our most prestigious award.
Secondly there will be a submission application for the hall of fame coming up.
Additional details will be delivered on our website.
Now, it gives me great pleasure to introduce our new executive director of first,
>> Thank you, John.
I personally have seen the powerful impact of FIRST because my two sons were both
members of FIRST robotics teams and my wife is a very active volunteer.
When I asked my two sons about the most important thing that they did during high
school, they both answered without hesitation, FIRST.
We're going to speak today about gracious professionalism and I think that's a
very key element of FIRST.
Let me share with you one piece.
Not from the big competition or the regionals but that happened one evening in
the shop where my son's team was working on their robot.
A neighboring team, a rookie team came to visit them.
They were feeling quite stressed and quite overwhelmed.
The members of my son's team sat down with them and showed them all their strategies,
all their tricks, told them where they could get their welding done.
Helped them figure out how to get more traction on their wheels and shared everything
they knew so far about that year's competition.
They remember how they had felt the first year as a rookie team and were pleased
to help out.
One of the highlights of the first year is awarding scholarships to FIRST participants.
And we're very pleased that this program has grown from one scholarship in 1996
to over 180 today valued at about $4 million.
40 of the best universities across the U.S. and Canada are participating and a
growing number of scholarships are being sponsored by important companies such
as DELPHI corporation, small parts and we're also getting sponsor ships from scholarships
coming from professional associations such as the American Society of mechanical
engineers and the society of women engineers.
We'd like to extend our real warm thanks for support for these scholarships.
These scholarships are changing people's lives.
Some haven't been awarded because they haven't received enough applications.
Encourage you to get the applications off the website and apply for these scholarships.
FIRST could not exist without the generous support of our suppliers and so let's
take a minute just to acknowledge them.
>> What an impressive list of organizations.
They support us because FIRST makes a difference.
FIRST has an impact.
Let me remind you in the kit this year you won't be getting a printed manual.
We're going paperless.
All documentation will be available over the website.
FIRST is a success because of the support of people like our suppliers, our sponsors,
the support of all the individuals who volunteer, the board members, the young
people themselves, the schools and the communities.
And they're involved because FIRST makes a difference.
They've seen it.
I've seen it on my own sons and their friends.
I'm of the view that FIRST has only really begun to see the tremendous success
that it will experience and the impact it is going to have.
I agree with Dean.
FIRST will have an impact on society.
We'll help people understand what education can be.
How interesting and fun learning can be.
But today we're going to talk mostly about the FIRST Robotics Competition for
the high school age group.
I want to introduce to you about first Lego league our program for 9 to 14 year
It's grown quickly in the first five years of its existence.
We have 3,400 teams across the U.S.
150 tournaments and FIRST Lego league is international.
There are over 1,000 teams internationally in 11 countries around the world.
It prides itself on taking real-world problems that scientists and engineers are
grappling with and translating it into a way that 9 to 14 year olds can deal with.
This year's challenge was out of this world.
2003 mission Mars is what it was.
We've been watching this in the newspaper the last few days, of course, with the
Let's take a couple of minutes to look at a video that shows the relationship
between the Mars missions and the FIRST Lego league.
>> Three, two, one.
Lift off of the Delta II rocket with the Mars exploration rover.
>> In the summer of 2003 NASA launched two Mars exploration rovers destined
for the planet Mars.
These rovers, named spirit and opportunity, are identical but will land at different
sites on Mars.
Their purpose is to look for past existence of water.
The search for life on Mars.
Following NASA's lead, FIRST Lego league blasted off in 2003 with mission Mars,
taking over 40,000 children in 11 countries to a recreated crater of the planet.
They build and program robots to accomplish tasks important for successful habitation
and exploration of the harsh Martian environment.
FIRST Lego league strives to design programs that are real world challenges.
Research is important.
They can join NASA scientists and educators and study the data and laboratory
measurements sent back by the rovers.
Two Lego figures are part of the actual rover expedition and will document their
space add convenient tours.
Our missions this year are intended to simulate NASA's endeavors.
Collecting ice Corps and remote rocket launches.
Our partnership with Lego has enabled us to bring the reality of science and technology
to children on a fun, exciting and hands-on level.
FIRST Lego league, an out of this world experience.
>> The FIRST Lego league could not enjoy the tremendous growth that it's
experiencing without our valued partnership with Lego and the support we've received
from the FIRST Robotics Competition.
Many mentors are also supporting FIRST Lego league teams.
We encourage you to get involved and thank you for that.
We've chosen the challenge for the coming year.
It will be to use robotic technology to help people with varying degrees of abilities.
If you're interested in getting involved, check the website to see how you can
Speaking of Mars, it gives me great pleasure to introduce to you Dave Lavery.
Program executive for solar system exploration, Mars exploration program for NASA.
>> NASA has been a sponsor since 1995 and this year it's supporting 168
Dave has been an invaluable teacher, friend and inspiration for all of us.
That's what he does in his spare time.
For the past three and a half years he's over seen the Mars rover missions, given
how busy he is we're truly privileged to have him with us here today.
Please welcome Dave Lavery.
>> Thank you all.
I really do appreciate that.
When I came in this morning somebody asked me if indeed I was going to be wearing
my traditional Hawaiian shirt.
Given it's six degrees below zero how in the world could I do this?
I work for NASA, we think in different terms.
One of the things we do is understand everything is relative.
Yeah, six degrees below zero isn't too bad.
I checked the weather report this morning.
It's 75 degrees below zero on Mars.
This isn't so bad.
One of the things I wanted to do this morning is talk a little bit about the impact
that people can have in ways that typically you may not quite be able to predict.
A lot of people, especially the 200 plus rookie teams this year is wondering what
is going to happen with this?
Will this be something that can make an impact?
Can I as a student make changes as a result of this experience?
Will it mean something?
I have a favorite story.
Those of you who have been around a long time.
Some of you may have heard it before.
It bears retelling so I'll take a couple of minutes to do that.
Other one of my absolute favorites.
Basically I want to go back several years.
And back in the early 1990's.
This is a photograph from 1990 out at the jet propulsion lab we were working on
the Mars return project.
We were work being on the device, a machine called Robbie.
Receive feet tall, seven feet long.
Had a big arm on the front.
Full of computers, nuclear power force on back.
The whole thing weighed about a ton.
We thought we'd fly it to Mars.
It would cost about $5 billion to do.
This is how we did robot planetary missions.
We had a lot of cameras, if it wanted to go from here to there it would take all
the pictures, do all the computers on board and figure out here is the most upload
path to get from here to here and execute the command and drive from there to
Now, using the computers of the day when it wanted to go from here to here, the
computational requirements were such it sat and thought about that one meter move
for about five hours.
But we thought that was the way you did it.
We were going to send this thing to Mars and live for several years and drive
One step at a time.
There has to be a better way but we couldn't figure out what it was.
About that time a young student had come and spent the summer with us.
His name was Carl.
He came in and said I want to help you guys.
I want to do whatever I can.
I want to be part of this project.
I want to understand what it is you're doing.
You guys are some of the best in the world.
Can I be a part of what you're doing?
And with a little bit of arrogance we'll admit, in mind sight.
Some of the world's best said you're a student.
Sit in the corner and you can watch us and learn.
Collin, being rather head strong said that's nice, but I really want to do something,
please can I do something?
We said sit over in the corner and watch.
He said all right.
If I can't actually help you do your stuff can I work on some of my stuff in the
lab in parallel while you're doing your stuff?
We said OK, that's all right.
The end of the summer rolls around and Collin says I'm about to go back to school
and can I show you what I've been working on?
Remember, here is Robbie, seven feet tall and $5 billion.
Five hours, one step.
You're getting the point here.
Collin said look what I built?
Basically he showed us this little machine that he had built called tooth.
Now, tooth was not seven feet tall and one ton and $5 billion.
It was the chassis of an RC car and $500 worth of parts and a circuit board he
had put together.
All you did was turn it on, put it on the floor and it would start randomly driving
around and keep on driving until eventually the bumper sensors on the front would
hit something and it would hit something and close the pinchers and tried to grab
what it hit.
If it could pick it up it would use the light sensors to look around for a beacon,
drive over to the light bulb, open the pinchers, drop off whatever it was.
If you had a little bit of cups in the room and left it alone for long enough
this thing all by itself would make little piles of cups next to the light bulb
until it ran out of battery power.
A simple little machine.
The world's best robotists took a look at this and said Robbie is 7 feet tall,
$5 billion, five hours.
Collin, how did you do that?
Wait, it gets better.
Seven years later, seven generations later in 1997, the -- I have to get this
right, the great great great great great granddaughter of tooth lands on Mars,
Mars Pathfinder sojourner in 1997.
Was basically the result of what Collin taught us.
You want to know how you change from a mission going to cost $5 bill to $200 million.
>> It's still a lot of money but less than $5 billion.
It's less than the country spends on potato chips each year and less than it costs
to make a major motion picture.
You can go to Mars because of the work this student taught us about.
Can one student have an effect?
You better believe you can.
Collin's work taught us something and one person taught us something.
That's the effect one person can have.
Does this continue on?
Sure it does.
Basically seven years after Pathfinder, just last week, this system got to Mars,
the great great great great great great great granddaughter of tooth, two generations
after sojourner we landed on Mars again.
One of the things we did was make sure that on this machine 14 years later Collin's
name, the name of the three mentors, went on board this spacecraft as a tribute
to the work that they had done that we wanted to carry forward.
We thought it was that important to recognize that individuals really can make
One student can make a difference.
One engineer can make a difference.
You may not be taking stuff to Mars.
You may be developing new system to make automobiles safer.
Making a new system to purify water, making a new system to make aircraft more
efficient and cost effective.
One person can make a difference.
Give you a couple of names.
A couple of years ago a few of you met Lauren lions.
She came to work for the summer working on some of the display panels that are
used on the Mars rover mission.
Mark, who worked with team 117 got hired by the jet propulsion lab and wrote the
navigation soft wear being used by the rovers.
You guys are taking this stuff forward and doing something with it.
One of the interesting ones that happened to me almost as a real surprise, Matt
wall as, who is one of the lead flight directors on this mission turns out that
he graduated from my high school a few years after me.
He was a classmate with the lead teacher on my team in high school.
He and David graduated together and so you see how these connections get made
and carried forward and the choices you make early on really do make a difference
The people are important, the relationships you build are important, and they
make a difference.
And I get to say that because of the work that people like Lauren and Matt and
mark all made and the 660 other people that worked on the Mars exploration rover
project, because of their work, not because of my work, I get to have fun, I get
to take credit, and I get to wear this shirt.
>> Any way, we do thank you all for the work you're doing.
Let's get on with the rest of the game.
>> And now please welcome national adviser Woodie Flowers schraims
>> I think they got that when I stepped outside this morning.
I confess, all these years I've been betting.
And I'm proud that I've been betting because I've been betting on FIRST and I'm
going to keep it up.
Welcome, happy new year.
We have a late holiday gift for you in a few minutes.
I want to talk a little bit -- first, as John said, FIRST is in good shape.
A quick mental experiment.
Take all of this year's robots, put them in a parade, a little space for a robot
and operator it would take over an hour and be three miles long.
We're not lucky enough to have all the robots together but about a third of them
will be at the championship and this year we will have a parade.
So watch for it if you're going to be there.
It should be a lot of fun.
Now, I want to focus on attitudes and philosophy of FIRST.
I'm going to start by thanking the veteran teams.
You guys have made FIRST what it is.
Without you we wouldn't be here doing this.
I want to hopefully get the rookies to understand a little bit more about gracious
professionalism and why we talk about it so much.
It's not a sticky sweet thing.
This is tough love.
As we said in our letter to you earlier, we hope this is the hardest fun you've
We talk about it because it's a good thing.
You get to build a great robot.
You go to great events, and if you pull that off with style and grace, it actually
may, as Dave pointed out, have long-term impact and improve your chances of having
a meaningful life.
That's a big deal.
Let's talk about professionalism first.
It's not about doctors and lawyers.
It's about anyone who has a deal with society.
In which they have special knowledge that they got from society and they give
it back and apply it well and society trusts them to use it for the good.
Now, professionalism is getting more complex.
There was a time when you could be a professional just by being informed.
If you knew something, that was enough.
I am convinced that now you have to apply informed, creative thinking, all three
all of the time.
Informed is even getting tougher.
You have to know more because obviously we know a lot more.
You need to know about nature, you need to know about how people work.
All those things involve both training and education.
Right now literally there are billions of smart, hungry people on the planet.
Soon there will be hundreds of millions of smart, hungry, well-trained people.
China, for example, will graduate five times as many engineers this year as all
of the Americas.
We live in a world where communications are very good.
It is, therefore, a small world.
So if you want to be part of the group that makes society work, if you want to
be a professional, you have to compete with more than just your next door neighbor.
Not only must you be well informed but you have to be creative.
In a very competitive world, if you're not creative, you're also an also ran.
In fact, unless you're in a group that is liberally sprinkled with creative people,
in the long run you'll be at the back of the pack.
To me the best time in your life to establish a self-image of what it's like to
be a creative person.
To learn to trust your ability and rely on creativity is while you're a student.
It's a relatively benign environment.
Let's talk about thinking a little bit.
Thinking is probably the most complex and subtle.
It's very clear that you have to make a habit of making your brain hurt.
You have to be curious, you have to embrace change, you have to make sure that
you don't accept the status quo but thinking is probably the most important part
of thinking for FIRST, is that you have to learn what you really believe and that's
a great foundation for developing ethical standards for yourself.
FIRST is a microcosm of life.
In the competition this year, a few people will cheat.
The vast majority of people will not.
Everyone will have to decide in which camp they stand.
FIRST embraces, we're trying to move toward minimalist rules.
Give you the thrust of what the rule is supposed to cover.
That won't work unless we can trust one another.
If you look at the mentor program or all the student programs, they won't work
unless they involve trust.
In fact, without it gracious professionalism is essentially dead.
So you have the chance, unless you think.
We live in a complex world from cloning to digital copyright issues.
You have to make ethical decisions about lots of things.
In fact, I think we're at the point now where, in order to be a reasonable citizen,
you have to be somewhat of a philosopher.
So professionalism is about gaining satisfaction through thinking and learning.
It also involves being part of the game.
You've probably seen an event where there was a team and there was one person
that was not really contributing.
You respond to that person with a mixture of pity and anger.
No one wants to be that person.
If you want to be part of the team that matters in your life, you need to learn
enough to make a contribution.
Let's shift now and talk about gracious has to do with being understanding about
what the other person's life is like.
It also has to do with being vigilant.
Paying attention all the time to that.
Guys, I have some bad news for you.
The brain science folks have figured out that empathy has a lot to do with how
many mirror neurons you have.
Women have many more than we do.
Not a great surprise.
We have to work harder at being gracious.
Let's do it.
Now, I don't claim to know how to be gracious.
When I try it and think I've succeeded it feels good because I think it's really
I think we have a genetic disposition to go the other way and I think society
pushes us the other way.
Genetically I think we have a genetics hangover.
We still behave as if we're in a neanderthal tribe and whoever is meanest in the
group gets the most food and sex.
That can't be right for the 21st century.
We have to get past that.
If you look at society, you can be famous and in some cases rich and famous for
doing very antisocial things.
You can do things like be -- act really stupid on reality television.
Last Sunday morning I got up and I was just amazed.
I was so anxious to see the new images from Mars.
I went to the Internet and television.
And at that time Britney Spears short-lived marriage was getting more coverage
than our colleagues had done out in space.
I couldn't believe it.
It is not right.
It's a real push to be gracious but it is a good thing and when you combine gracious
and professional you get something that is more than the sum of the parts.
Do a mental experiment.
Imagine you got a great idea and started a company and you've put all your money
in and you've gotten money from your friends and you've talked some venture capitalists
into sponsoring you.
Now it's time to staff the company.
Do you think you'll try to find a bunch of dumb acting, mean people?
Not a chance.
You're going to try to find a bunch of very intelligent people that are kind to
one another because you're going to work with them for a long time.
So it's not rocket science to figure out this is a powerful combination that we're
It can make your future more rewarding.
It can give you a leg up on being one of the contributors.
And allow you to feel really good about what you've done.
Now, how does that map into FIRST?
I think it's really simple.
We're about to give you a very hard problem.
And a very short amount of time to work on that problem.
In most cases you'll be working in a large group.
I argue that you don't have a chance unless you approach the problem with gracious
So we're confident that you're going to do just fine.
And we're looking forward to a great 2004 FIRST Robotics Competition.
FIRST is full of stories about great behavior.
We have with us today some people that know some of those stories.
Scott Kirsner has agreed to moderate a discussion among them.
Scott Kirsner is a very well-known technology and business writer.
You see his name in "The New York Times," "Newsweek," "Wired
He does a regular feature in the "Boston Globe" called at large.
Most importantly for me Scott has written repeatedly, accurately and sympatheticly
Let's welcome Scott Kirsner.
>> Thanks to Woodie for the great introduction.
I owe him $5 now.
Try to talk about gracious professionalism while Woodie is in the room is like
trying to come up with -- we have a great panel put together to talk about that.
Before we jump into that topic, though, I feel like I had a add a little bit to
the story about Collin and his contributions to Mars robotics.
Collin's company now is called I-robot.
They make the robotic vacuum cleaner.
In the great tradition of tang and astronaut ice cream, we now have a robotic
vacuum cleaner that can pick up things in the living room.
I understand that everything we do and say is a prelude to the unveiling of the
game and we're five speed bumps on the way to that destination.
We'll be quick.
We're going to talk a little bit about gracious professionalism, what it is, why
And I want to start on the far end here with Jeff.
He writes a monthly business ethics column in the "New York Times" called
the right thing.
He's written several books called "the right thing" and personal responsibility
in today's business.
Jeff also teaches at Emerson college, several courses on professional ethics.
Jeff, I know you're new to FIRST and this concept.
Tell us a little bit about how you see gracious professionalism working or not
working in the larger world.
You know, we kind of do live in this world where every is about short-term thinking.
Am I going to do -- if I do something for someone else it needs to have a payoff
tomorrow or next week, not in the long term.
>> It's interesting.
One of the things when I was first invited to join you on the panel, she talked
about talking about gracious professionalism in a post-Enron environment.
I thought that was very optimistic.
That we're now in a post-Enron environment.
The thing I like to talk about, the way people end up in trouble, is sort of this
idea there is this idea that everything is written by short-term profits or when
we saw the runup of the stock market and the collapse of the dot coms, some of
the problems were run by short-term thinking.
When we looked at some of the scandals that have been going on, Enron or world
come it's been based on short-term thinking.
Trying to en rich some of the top executives.
There is the story about how at Enron on the elevators at Enron the stock options
prices were posted on televisions.
As you went up the floors at Enron you could see whether you were getting wealthy
by floor four or five and you'd get off.
Very long term thinking there.
And the -- so the problem has been this has been a short-term thinking about how
to run business.
I think what is missed is that it's really the people who are able to think in
the long-term regardless of the fact they may not be rewarded.
Those are the people that went out and ultimately.
>> Tell us briefly.
We were talking the other day about this real interesting story of the company
that makes polar tech fleece.
It's a store owe.
There was a huge fire in 1995.
The mill was destroyed.
Kind of tell us in a thumbnail what happened.
>> The owner is 77 years old.
Back then he would have been -- you can tell science and math are not my -- 70.
The factory is burning down.
He knows this is a family country that has been around forever and they make the
polar tech fleece.
As the company is burning, the owner decides -- it's around Christmastime and
decides he'll keep all of his employees on payroll and keep paying them in spite
of the fact there is no jobs and in spite of the fact he couldn't collect the
insurance and shut down the company and move the jobs overseas.
He decided to keep the employees on payroll.
And was as a result heralded as a hero, as a corporate hero and has been for several
About a year ago, he started to run into some trouble and the company ultimately
filed for bankruptcy.
And his employees didn't owe him anything.
He said he didn't do this because he wanted anything back.
He said he did it because he thought it was the right thing in the long term of
His employees, many of whom are union employees, made all kinds of concessions
when they found he was in trouble and cut back on raises, cut back on benefits
to help keep the company going.
He's now come out -- the company has come out of bankruptcy, G-capital owns most
of the company but they have a deal where the owner can buy the company back and
last week the export import bank of the United States put up a loan guarantee
of $35 million.
The reason he's getting all of this is not because he expected everything in return.
When he ran into trouble he started getting checks from people with dollar bills
and $5 he had gotten about $10,000 from people sympathetic to him.
The way people have cherished the way he approached this, paying out for him in
the long term.
>> Not a company with a strong price posted in the elevator.
>> For him it's a private company.
He was able to do a lot of things a public company might not do that he could
>> I want to move to John Niski.
He's a technology education teacher in a high school and one of the founding members
of the team.
He told me just before we came up here that he's moving into a new role as the
Moving over to the dark side.
We'll have to keep him in FIRST in some way.
John, tell me a little bit.
You had a project after the end of the FIRST season last year where a teacher
came to you.
The school had just built a Bocce court and one of the students at the high school
was someone who couldn't participate in playing Bocce.
What did the team do?
>> The teacher came to us and said is there any way you can do anything
He's confined to a wheelchair and wants to be able to participate in the Bocce
tournaments and things that are going on.
So several students, I put it out to the team.
Several students came forward and some of the mentors came forward and we worked
in the off season to create a mechanism that would allow Jack to participate in
the Bocce tournament.
Which turned out to be a bigger task than we originally thought it would be.
Because of the experience that we had with FIRST and everything that we had learned
and put together we came out with something that was very successful.
>> I think we have some video that we can show here.
Can we go to that?
>> The robotics team at high school has made it possible for a student with
muscular dystrophy to play in the Bocce tournament.
He motivated his team to a shutout.
His wheelchair was fitted with a motorized device that took the robotics team
members three weeks to build in after school sessions.
One motor creates tension on a set of bungee cords and another motor controlled
the locking device to set the degree of power Jack wishes to use.
He can adjust tension and lock and fire.
Because the device is out of his line of vision, he can't see where the tension
is set at so he counts, clicks and makes the necessary adjustments.
Early practice before the tournament to calculate how far the ball would travel
from different tension points.
The Bocce tournament is held twice a year and sponsored by the school's Italian
>> We've built a robot.
This is just another task we had to accomplish is build a Bocce shooter for a
kid in a wheelchair who wanted to play.
It helped a lot to design mechanisms through robotics in order to do this.
>> I can participate in sports now.
I can do anything.
I can actually do something now.
Everybody con great later me for winning the tournament and it's really cool.
>> So, John, is there a ruling yet as to whether that's admissible in world
>> We're working with the special Olympics and trying to set it up so that
other people will be able to participate on a bigger level.
>> So making more copies of this device.
>> They wouldn't let us put the laser on there, though.
>> No laser siting.
We have two team members.
The co-captains of team 563 from Philadelphia, Shanita and Frank.
It's the IBEW technical high school.
Shanita, tell me a little bit about your experience in a pre-season competition
Tell us how your team did and kind of what happened at the competition.
>> Well, we did fairly good but we lost to 316.
We went up to them and congratulations to them.
We help each other out and participate.
We work together.
>> We were talking a little bit about this idea, is it natural when new
students join a FIRST team that they automatically understand gracious professionalism
and know what it means?
>> First I say yeah, but no, they just want to go and win and not know how
other teams are.
As for me, I was like that.
I was wanting to win all the time, not caring about other teams.
As I got to know everybody else I wanted to have fun.
You know, that's what it's all about.
It's not about competing.
It's about having fun.
>> New students absorb the idea of gracious professionalism.
They can't help it.
>> Nobody can help it.
>> Frank, I wanted to ask you.
I'm not sure when exactly this happened.
Sometime last year.
But your family moved from Philadelphia to New Jersey.
And tell us kind of what you did.
You don't live in New Jersey now, right?
>> No, I don't.
I live with my grandparents.
They moved to New Jersey I'd say last year the beginning of like the beginning
of the last year's season and what happened was they wanted me to go down there
to the school.
It was a high school.
I got good grades.
What happened was I checked out the school looking for robotics because I'm involved
in that with the high school, team 563.
And they didn't have the robotics.
They didn't offer the program.
I went through and asked my mom and dad.
We went down to the board of education, we had my grandparents are my legal guardians
so I can do the robotics with the school.
This program is like really got to me.
I live in a bad neighborhood.
I go to this club after school every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 3:00 to
We stay later sometimes when it's the robot season.
And I get off the street.
I'm not involved with drugs and other he what keeps me off the street.
>> For you it sounds like gracious professionalism is not just about the
team, but you've also kind of built a friendship with the superintendent of schools
in Philadelphia to kind of educate him about FIRST?
>> Educate him.
He's the superintendent of the Philadelphia school district.
I walk and talk with him and I was speaking to him telling him how all the Philadelphia
high schools were looking for sponsors and talking to him asking him if he could
If he could give us a lending hand through help.
Jeff, I want to come back to you to wrap up here a little bit.
These aren't ideas that you see a lot in the world.
Woodie mentioned the example of, you know, this is a world where we pay more attention
to Britney Spears being married for 22 hours or whatever it was.
>> Whose counting?
Than we do to the Mars lander.
I mean, what have you gotten from hearing some of this today?
Are there some things that have been brought up for you where it does or doesn't
happen in the world?
>> A friend of Frank's on the team last year is now at Penn State and he
started a robotics team there and they have 17 girls on the team.
Frank thinks this is a wonderful thing.
>> I think, you know, I think it's amazing.
It's a wonderful thing where if there is a way -- it's incredibly admirable, the
stories they're telling and the stories I've heard throughout the morning and
before to think there is a way for this to keep on going and the ripple effect
this will have.
I like to think that when people ask me about my background and how I am qualified
to write about business ethics.
It's not because I'm a particular ethical or smart person and I talk to people.
I rely on both of my kids, who are both teachers, for examples of stuff.
I try to talk to my grandson who is five years old and ask him what his biggest
concerns are starting a new school.
He said two things.
He thought about it a while and got back to me.
Called me on the phone.
And he called me from his mother's cell phone from their car and he said the two
things he was most concerned about were making new friends and falling down.
And I thought this is remarkable.
It seems like that is part of what the gracious professionalism concept is.
Because you have friends they sort of pick you up when you fall down even if they're
not on the same team.
I think that's something that sort of has come through and I think it would be
nice if that was something that carried over into other companies as they went
>> After that phone call with you he called up and checked his stock prices,
>> We're just about out of time here but I want to thank the panelists for
Thank all of you for listening and I want to wish everyone a great season.
>> Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome FIRST founder Dean Kamen.
>> Good morning.
>> Thanks for coming.
[CHEERING AND APPLAUSE]
>> Thank you.
>> I have to make a couple of quick observations.
According to Scott Kirsner's analysis of the situation, I realize I am now the
sixth speed bump.
Good news is I'm the last speed bump before we get to that.
Another observation I have is to give Woodie some confidence.
All is not lost.
Woodie pointed out that last weekend Britney Spears was still number one on the
This is yesterday's "USA Today" and in a major article that they have
about our little rover, I can quote, "and NASA's space appeal trumps sex
It was more active yesterday than any other piece on the Internet.
So the good news is everybody likes robots.
Unfortunately for most of the rest of the world, it's a spectator sport.
Around here we get to actually do it.
And I think most people-in fact, I'd say just about everybody at FIRST knows that
FIRST is not a spectator support and life is not a spectator sport.
We started with John Abele pointing out a lot of things, including how difficult
it is to describe what FIRST is.
I keep thinking, if we among ourselves think it's hard, imagine trying to explain
it to those poor people that aren't involved.
That are literally watching life as spectators.
I normally like to go last because it gives me time to listen to what all the
other people say, figure out what is missing, gives me a little time to think.
Unfortunately, we've gotten better and better at this and John Abele talked about
the most important thing, the Chairman's Award.
Mr. SHAY thanked all the sponsors, the details, the data, the statistics.
Dave Lavery, try to top that.
Woodie, try to top that.
So I realize the better we get, since I always have the same old message I'm becoming
redundant and irrelevant and going last is getting tougher.
I don't have anything new.
And I know we want to get on with this.
So I would just sort of revert to what I always do, which is try to send two messages
to two groups.
The scientists, engineers, technicians, parents, teachers and everybody else that
makes this possible, and the students for whom they make it possible.
It's always the same message because I'm always amazed at how we're doing and
how we're growing.
This whole concept started pretty simply more than a decade ago when I made an
assertion that what this country in particular, but the world now in general,
I think, is missing, isn't opportunity.
There are schools, there are books, there is Internet, ever more easy access to
data, information, knowledge all over the place.
My assertion was, we don't have an education problem, we have a culture problem.
We don't have a supply problem, we have a demand problem.
We have a culture in which there is so much noise, there is so little signal getting
through to kids that they can grow up, become young adults before they've ever
had to deal with important things.
And I thought that if we could just find a way to give kids an opportunity, particularly
women in this country, and minorities in this country, that for various cultural
reasons frequently would get to be teenagers or adults never having met really
neat people, engineers, scientists, people that solve real problems, create our
standard of living.
It just seemed to me if we could connect those kids, even for a short time, to
adults, the opportunity issue is small, if we could spark and energize and create
desire among these kids to achieve.
If we could give them some sense of what is possible.
Give them some sense of what is accessible, we would change where they put their
time and their energy and that would change what they do with their lives and
that would make a world a better place for them, for us, for our society.
So as John Abele said with maybe a little less sarcasm than we used to see in
the early days from all of our initial somewhat DUBIOS supporters, our goal is
to change the culture of the country.
The name FIRST doesn't have the word education in it.
For inspiration and recognition of science and technology.
We grew from 20-some odd teams that played one event in one gym in Manchester,
This year we have 26 cities around North America.
Almost 1,000 teams.
Our finals will be at the Georgia Dome.
It is extraordinary and now with FIRST Lego league even more so, what impact we're
But every year I'm always concerned, what do we do to keep all these volunteers
coming back to make this opportunity possible?
And my observation and my advice and my hope and my request of all the volunteers,
the engineers, the mentors is to remind you, it isn't about building a robot.
No pun intended.
The robots are a vehicle.
It's about building among all these kids an understanding of what their options
They may not choose careers in science or engineering.
They still may be far more enlightened, responsible citizens with a broader understanding
of the world.
That's a good thing.
But I would ask every one of the mentors to remember, it is about the Chairman's
It is about gracious professionalism.
It is about showing kids what they ought to be proud to be able to do.
To opening their eyes to things that they probably never thought about and to
each of you, I would urge you, no matter how intense the competition gets, we
focus more and more now as the competitions get better on what you'll see behind
that curtain, I would urge you strongly to remember that's not it.
That these kids are watching what you're doing and we're trying to show them a
much higher standard of human interaction than what most sporting events are about.
The outcome of sporting events doesn't matter.
What these kids turn out to be as adults matters a lot.
To the students, I would urge you to think about the fact that even if these robots
only cost $10,000 or $20,000 to build and move and ship and that's a very low
There is not a team out there that tells me they can compete for that kind of
Multiply that by the thousand teams and then add the cost of running 26 events.
We've got many tens.
We're probably approaching $100 million of commitment.
That's just the dollars.
You have commitments of tens of thousands of people.
The scientists, engineers, teachers,.
Most of them have lives and kids of their own.
The most extraordinary thing about FIRST is everybody does it as a volunteer.
They do it with a passion that you couldn't pay for and you couldn't buy.
So to the students I would urge you every day to think about how lucky you are.
Why are these people doing this?
It's to give you an opportunity.
It's a rare opportunity.
You're lucky to have it.
It is not a birthright.
You have to earn it.
And you earn it by reciprocating with the gracious professionalism that you see
from the volunteers.
That's how we'll get more of them.
That's why we have 91% retention of the ones we started with more than a decade
They see the impact.
They see the result.
They realize what they're doing is unique.
So -- if the students will remember what an extraordinary opportunity they're
getting and live up to earning it, if our gracious professionals continue, we'll
remain as extraordinary as we've been.
It was easy to be that way when we were a small group.
It was easy.
As we get bigger, it's harder to keep all those, as John Abele pointed out, almost
indescribable aspects of what makes us so unique.
We don't want to stay small.
The rub is we want all kids everywhere to have the same opportunity that you have.
So we have to somehow combine the fact that we want to get bigger and bigger and
reach more and more people with the fact that every student feels that they are
personally involved with their mentor and in every case we want each student to
think they've got the best mentor, and each of the mentors to think they have
the best students.
And we want to make sure in the end everybody has turned out to be right.
It's a tough task.
But we've done it for 12 years, we'll keep doing it.
It wouldn't be FIRST if I didn't give out homework assignments.
Just before I ask Woodie and Dave to come up I have a slight twist on our homework
The game is getting more complex.
Life is getting more complex.
Technology and computers are getting more complex.
And to keep some of the teams that have done it before coming back and energized
and excited we keep raising the bar.
That's a good thing.
But to be brutally honest it is going to make it a little harder for the pure
rookies to jump right in and compete as well.
We don't want them discouraged.
And in the spirit of gracious professionalism, my new homework assignment is to
ask all the returning teams, 700 some odd of you, to identify one of those 225
or more -- identify a few of those 225 rookie teams and start working with them
Don't wait until you can show them how gracious you are when they show up at a
regional and you look at their machine and say oh my god.
Let's get working together now and everybody will win.
My only other homework assignment.
I'm happy to actually have to give.
I never thought I would be in this spot.
For the first few years it was really hard to get more colleges to give scholarships.
Over the last few years all of a sudden our institutions of higher learning have
figured out that this is a very good thing.
And we're up to almost $4 million in scholarships and I'm going to work hard to
make that number much bigger as fast as we can.
But believe it or not, it's growth has outstripped your ability to go collect
We're getting scholarships in at a higher rate than we're getting our own students,
participants, to go and apply for them and take advantage of them.
So my other I think very happy homework assignment is go out and take advantage
of these opportunities that are being thrown at us.
Now, is Woodie, Dave, let's get on with it.
>> Picking up on what Dean said we want to make sure that the rookie teams
recognize they which they're special.
If I do the mental experiment imagine I just joined FIRST and watched this process
I think there would feel there is some chance I'm being subjected to a shock and
We tried hard to make sure that this year again that the rules, the game, the
kit are as rookie friendly as we possibly can.
We've done -- the rules are still too complicated but we're moving toward a minimalist
We're really trying to change from giving every team an encyclopedia and say read
it by tomorrow night so you understand the game.
Instead really backed off quite a bit to say what we're going to tell you about
is the intent, the purpose behind the rules and ask you to apply some basic common
sense to say this is what they're after.
Last year we worked very hard to overspecify spring forces.
You could have pre-stored in your robot.
What we were really talking about is we want your robot to be safe.
What we're trying to do this year is tell you, we want your robot to be safe.
That's what we're going to look for.
Use some common sense.
Our inspections will do the same thing.
Where we can specify numbers we will as appropriate but we'll tell you where the
>> We're trying to be simple.
Again this year trying hard to make sure if you choose to, you can build a simple
robot, a simple mobile base, right out of the box.
Probably the best way to illustrate that is to show you a quick video.
The good news is that this year's kit gives you more drive system options.
More options means more ways to add functions you can use to rack up points.
To show you how simple this year's options are, we've searched the east coast
for folks with little or no mechanical aptitude to just as a demonstration for
Our volunteers are a professor of mechanical engineering at the Coast Guard academy
and two of his co-workers.
Let's see how quickly these three average Joes can assemble the working drivetrain
of their dreams.
Ready, set, go!
>> Great job, guys.
Thanks for your help.
Now it's back to the drawing board for some accessorizing.
>> So let's look at the kit.
We want to see what is in there, right?
Wait a minute, Woodie.
Why don't we take a really close look at this kit.
>> Let's go do that.
>> Wow, look at this.
>> This is amazing.
>> Come on, Dave, Woodie, I know we promised everybody bigger kits this
year but we're out of control here.
Woodie, tell us about some of this stuff.
>> Isn't it amazing?
We know about the big gray power battery.
This year we have this little yellow battery here.
What's that for, Dave?
>> Brand new yellow battery, brand new backup battery means the control
system stays powered all the time.
Overdrive the motors, signal goes down.
Low power on the primary battery, control system stays up.
No more recess during the middle of the game.
>> No more excuses.
>> Speaking of the controller, the big black thing?
>> C-programming language.
Much more powerful and relevant for real-world engineering.
A lot faster and more powerful processor.
It means we expect to see a lot more capabilities, hint hint.
>> To connect to all the sensors, I guess?
>> A lot of sensing capability could be brought on during the game.
Let's have a look, let's go.
>> Whoa, wow, there is the battery, there is the controller.
We're in sensor heaven up here.
Tell us about this.
Over there and over here we have new sensors in the kit this year.
>> Infrared detectors that can hone in on infrared shields.
The software is in there to drive them automatically to the guys who wrote the
software that every team has and play the game.
Right now we have another problem.
Got to get out of here.
Can somebody bring a ladder?
>> I need some airbags.
>> All right.
>> Airbags are big--
It's pretty exciting.
>> Let's look at some of the things.
Here is the rotating light.
I'm very happy to say that this year you can use the rotating light in a way that
I've wanted to use it for about five years.
So instead in the kit there are four nice new L.E.D. flashers, better controlled
by the controller so that we'll be able to do some fairly fancy things.
Wonderfully low profile.
No more working super hard to make sure your light can be seen.
There is a nice improvement.
One of the things we wanted to do this year is to make it as easy as we could
to make the robots as smart as you can.
There is some nice stuff.
The pneumatics, for example.
>> This year you have a rotary acuateor.
You don't have to spend a lot of time turning linear into rotary.
It has a pair of magnets as it runs from one end of its stroke to the other you
get feedback at the control system to know what is going on.
You also have another nice linear one also with information about where it is
that is coupled back through your control system.
>> So in addition to knowing some positions, in the kit you'll find a pressure
You can get more.
You can actually have your on-board controller know about the pressure in certain
places that you would like to control things.
>> You can get more so you're not limited to just the pneumatics in the
>> That's right.
>> Open things up as much as we can.
Now, here -- what's that?
>> A nice little envelope full of a couple special parts here.
Take this out for a moment.
Several little chips inside that look sort of interesting.
>> They're dark red.
>> And a couple of clear ones.
Might be infrared detector chips included in the kits.
>> Why would you have those?
>> We'll find that out in a few minutes.
>> What's there?
>> Looks like we have infrared sensors and detectors.
Here is another sort.
If you open this up and inside is a pre-designed, pre-built set of circuit boards
which you can put together to build a current sensor.
So no more wondering how well your motors are doing and how much current they're
We give you sensors in the kit so you can find out for sure.
>> This is one place in this year's competition where you need to find out
who in the team is best in soldering.
>> We've heard people complain about the fact it's hard to get good traction,
good ground clearance, it's hard to get a suspension.
The wheel, pneumatic tires.
You get a couple of them.
And you can drive them.
>> We have a wonderful little set of fasteners and things that should make
it much more straight forward to do your wiring properly straight out of the box.
Last year the spacers in the transmission were problematic.
This year, after 12,600 precision cuts, if I remember correctly, the right spacers
are now in the kit so you should be able to make the transition with no -- the
transmission with no backlash.
Battery sensors are back.
Wonder why they would--
>> I guess we'll have to find out pretty soon.
>> So we have hopefully a kit, a game, a set of rules that allows everyone
to play from very simple machines to complex ones.
Now, I think the best way to get people to understand this year's game is by taking
advantage of Dave's thousands of hours--
>> My Christmas vacation again.
>> Of animation.
I think the best way to do this is to just let you see Lavery's version of this
>> Welcome to the 2004 FIRST competition.
This year's game, FIRST frenzy.
Reaching for new heights as we're raising the bar.
Above the player station is a mechanism that contain 18 balls ready to go on the
field at the beginning of the game.
Vertical goal for either squad.
The game begins with 15 seconds of operations as robots tried to reach the edges
of the field.
Robots can see the infrared beam.
To find the ball.
>> At the end of the two minute game approaches the robot will grab the
ball from the field.
It will double the scores.
As the game winds down robots will go pick them off the ground.
You get an extra 50 points.
Score is determined -- [inaudible] >> Additional 50 points is awarded for
each robot playing for the ball.
[Inaudible] >> Good luck.
We'll see you at the competition.
>> Piece of cake, right?
Let's go look at the real hardware.
>> Raise the bar.
>> All right.
Check this out.
>> I'm looking, Woodie, I'm not quite sure that this is right.
Didn't we say something about raising the bar?
>> I think we better do that.
>> Now, in doing this, we were just hanging around.
OK, you guys can drop down.
We're doing this to make sure that you understand that this is a very fancy field
that is made for competitions.
We have this safety feature so that it will be easy to unhook a robot if we have
>> When you build yours to practice, you don't have to motorize it, you
have to figure out how to get on it.
The real playing fields will be like this so it's more of a spectator issue.
You don't have to do anything that difficult.
>> So, in fact, the materials that you got is set up to allow you to build
simple things to get started.
Dave started with this rig.
Look at the two slides that are up now.
>> The building materials for the seal wondering about already is what do
I do with this toilet closet flange?
We're about to show you.
In this version that you can build, you use it by taking a piece of PVC pipe,
inverting it and use it as your ball rest.
On the competition play field this is all going to be automated to let us know
when the ball gets knocked off.
On your practice fields you don't need to go to the expense.
You can have someone watch.
That's where the closet flange comes in.
>> This is a fairly elegant looking thing.
>> You have all the information in the rules on how to build it.
It's pretty lightweight.
Made out of simple stuff.
They're speced, five inch cast tears.
You don't have to put the diamond plate on it.
You have dimensions for wood.
You have some angle iron that creates the hexagon.
The important thing to remember is you're allowed to grab the angle iron to pull
You cannot go under it, you can't grab the bottom, you can't lift it, and you
can't grab these things.
This is what you can grab.
They're easy to build.
The information is in the rules.
>> Now look at these two slides that illustrate a simple mock-up of the
You'll notice that we have some plywood and fairly simple other things from the
local hardware store.
You can simulate this in a few hours, we think.
For example, the step here, the bottom step is a 2 by 12.
The middle is a 2 by 8, and the top one is a 2 by 4.
This was made to match dimension lumber that you get at the local hardware store
rather than trying to make things that match this.
So all of this relatively elegant stuff is made to be like what you're going to
be able to mock up to get started quickly.
So the field, we hope you think it looks elegant.
We hope you'll find that making the field mock-up will be straight forward.
So let's look at some hardware.
You saw this robot being built in Vince's video.
Make a few points about it.
One of the things that is in the kit this year is a set of sprockets and chains
so you can get a 4 1/2 to 1 ratio.
This particular robot uses the BOSH motors set in low gear running small sprockets
directly to the back wheel or the front wheel.
These are the pneumatic tires that are in the kit.
The rest of it is pretty straight forward.
You saw it being put together.
We're not proposing this is a solution but James, could you drive this thing around
so people get an idea of what it's like?
>> Looks pretty good?
That's just on skids.
The way to illustrate the power train works fine.
So it looks like it handles the steps pretty well.
But, you know, it looks too wide, right?
So again we're not proposing this is the right solution.
If you get up there, and you wanted to get over to the central platform, it might
be kind of tough.
Another wonderful demonstration.
>> Stair climbing is hard.
>> So this machine, simple machine that we'll run around, you can make almost
straight out of the kit.
There is one part in here that is a drilled part but it is not a machined part.
Let's look at one of last year's robots.
>> Let's take a look over here.
Basically one of the things we want to show you on this machine.
We mentioned before a couple of times the infrared sensors.
What we have are basically as you'll get in the kit, a set of infrared detectors
and emitters that you can use to basically build up a beacon.
We have one here on the center of the field.
Mount your infrared detectors.
We give you the software for the complete solution for building a basic infrared
detector tracker homing systems that can be fired up and run the system.
Get ourselves ready.
They'll automatically detect the beacon, range to it and drive to it.
The software that we have in the kit in all the different parts you have, the
instructions are in there.
We intention naturally said we'll give you something that will work.
You've let a lot of room for optimization.
If you want to do better, go for it.
We want to see what you can do.
Let's give a demonstration of how well this works.
>> If you want to move away.
>> Game starts, it is fully autonomous.
No hands-on controls.
Homes in on the beacon.
Recognizes where it is.
>> And releases the field.
>> It successfully tripped the ball.
This would now have a lot more to work with.
Just to make sure people know, here is the infrared beacon.
Obviously you can't see it because it's infrared.
This is what this thing -- notice it's aimed directly at that beacon.
It found it and went home.
So let's talk about some of the other features first.
Let me ask the camera to follow me to --
>> So back here we have an area where the operators can be located and there
is a thing called the ball corral.
The robot would kick balls through.
A human player can pick them up and shoot from here.
This is a potential safety issue that we're going to think very carefully about.
We were going to use paddles to move the balls but it's too awkward.
We'll make sure it will be OK for you to reach down and pick them up and make
>> Woodie, a couple of questions about that.
So when the human player is back there throwing the small balls, the human player
can score by throwing things into the goals.
What about the robots?
>> They cannot score the small balls.
The human players are critical.
>> For years the debate has raged, the human player, the robot.
Which is, which should be more important?
The answer this year is they have to work together.
Only the robot can get the ball to the human player.
Only the human player can try to score.
The better the human player, the more they score, the better the robot, the more
chances it gives the human.
They need to work together.
>> Why don't we get the folks out here to do the first whole simulation.
Let's get Dean to talk about the various ways that machine might find that ball.
>> I thought we were going to have some of our strategic partners to do
You can imagine, I don't know who we have to drive here.
You've already heard there is a set of infrared sensors and you have detectors,
you can home in on it.
There is also a line on the rug.
You've got other sensors.
You can follow it and it will take you right to where you want to go.
You could do it more simply than that.
You could run over to the wall.
You can't attach to the wall but you could run along the wall and find a way to
have your machine stop by that post.
You could be even simpler than that for the 15 seconds of autonomous mode.
You could point, light a candle and hope that you get where you wanted to go in
Any of those methods is perfectly acceptable.
What we would like to do now is run a simulation of the whole game.
And for those of you out there watching from road stations, we'll probably stay
on a wide camera angle so you can see the entire game.
It will look a little weird to see the same wide angle for a full two minutes
but I think you'll get a better sense of what is going on in the whole field so
if we could find out.
We have two missing robots?
>> While they're getting that set up it's also worth mentioning during that
autonomous period when you're coming in trying to move the bonus balls out of
the way to release the balls on either end you want to come in and hit the ball
on your side if I'm on the red alliance, I want to get this one.
What happens if I hit over here?
I'll release the blue side as well.
Doesn't matter which one you hit.
Strategically it's probably to your advantage to go after just your side but options
are I hit my side, I hit the other side, I hit both.
That's one of the challenges you'll have to deal with.
>> Why don't you introduce your alliance.
Dean will introduce his and we'll try this.
>> What are you going to be doing this time?
>> I'm going to be a line follower.
>> I'm a beacon follower.
>> What's your plan?
>> Dead reckoning.
>> Another line follower.
>> Everyone has their safety glasses on?
One, two, three, go!
There they go!
>> The blue line.
15 seconds in the ball trough.
15 seconds roll, now drive time.
Drivers take control of the robots.
Holding balls down in front.
Blue line is trying to do the same.
Players making the shots for the blue alliance.
They get seven.
A 10 pointer.
They went in for the boards.
Still plenty of time in the competition.
Realize it's getting busy with the balls.
Starting to fill it up.
>> She's at 100% hit rate.
>> Still at mid-field.
Just over a minute to play.
Two moveable goals.
Nothing in them.
One minute remaining.
Blue alliance human player taking it shot.
Going off the basket.
The Tammy robot in red uncaps the small moving goal.
40 seconds remaining now.
Up on top.
Getting the cap ball.
The red alliance.
Blue alliance still making the shots.
30 seconds remaining now.
Another nice shot from the red alliance side.
And 20 seconds.
Blue alliance, human players.
15 seconds, up on top.
The blue appliance.
5, 4, 3, 2, 1.
Nice game, guys.
Now, I hope you found that complicated to watch.
But not too complicated.
Hopefully you were able to see what was happening.
Now, the issue, rather than count all the balls.
If we were taking the time to do this carefully we would count all these noting
there is a ten in there and that would simply be blue's score.
On the other end, Dave.
>> There is 75 points worth of balls doubled because the capping ball would
>> Nobody is hanging from the bar.
So it looks like, although this one looks really full, that yellow ball was really
valuable to that end and since nobody is hanging, those guys win.
>> We should note, by the way, the folks that are shooting from practiced
quite a bit and they are unusually good.
I don't think she missed anything down here.
>> Jason, did you see that?
>> Between Jason and Melanie.
We probably think we know who won the bet.
If you guys could get started and set up the game for a second round and we'll
cover some of the other issues.
One of the ones that is important is to think about the strategies.
We'll try to stay out of the way.
>> By the way, if a ball goes out in this year's competition it doesn't
If the big balls go out, they will go back.
>> So one of the strategies that you saw was herding.
It's very important, we think, that the human player get balls fed back through
A very simple robot that is well run would probably be a great competitor because
if you can feed the human player and if the human player is effective that could
be a very substantial part of the winning.
>> Basically capping will be very, very important is how you can potentially
double your score.
You start off with the doubleler ball sitting on top of the short goal.
If you don't take it off nothing will get in.
Uncapping the goal will be a critical capability for every alliance to actually
make effective use of it you have to be able to put the large ball back afterwards.
There are two goals.
One is mobile and one is static.
You want to at least be able to put some small scoring balls in the short goal
and get the capping ball, the doubling ball back up on top.
>> That points out one of the strategic questions, if Dean were loading
his small goal and I came down and he had just capped it with a big yellow ball,
as I stand here he has to decide, he's a good hanger.
But he's got to either stop guarding that goal because as soon as he moves away
I'm going to take the big ball off the top.
So he has to count, score, trade off.
So maybe there will be some tension about oh, do I leave now or do I make it to
It looks as though we think being able to get up there or reach from the side
quickly is going to be very important.
So are we ready to do it again?
I'm sure glad -- oh, oh.
You guys introduce your alliances.
>> Tammy, this time what will you be doing?
>> I'm still a line follower.
>> He does one thing does it well.
>> Dead reckoning.
>> Line following.
>> They're very consistent.
You're in a dangerous place, Dean.
>> I'm going to move.
>> One, two, three, go!
Here we go.
We see the blue alliance grabbing onto a goal.
And the ball is tripped.
Drive time now 15 seconds is up with autonomous and human players start shooting.
Good release of a bonus ball from the tee.
That will be released automatically in 45 seconds.
Human players getting busy now.
Shots reigning in from both sides of the field.
Moveable goal inside the blue alliance station.
The Tammy bot in front of the driver's station.
The balls come down.
Five pointers spilling all over the field of the red driver's station.
Still over a minute to play.
Being fed by their robots the moveable goal.
Just under a minute to play.
A ten pointer.
The human player station.
All goals uncapped at the moment.
Balls still reigning down.
Karen bot trying to get the cap ball.
30 seconds remaining.
Now the blue alliance.
On top of center court.
Still 15 seconds to play.
He's trying to go up.
10 seconds remaining.
The balls are reigning down on the field.
7 seconds, team looking to cap.
Red alliance unable to get up.
That's it, the end!
Dean, why don't you score this end.
Dave, why don't you score that end.
Now, let me make a point about Scott bot here.
You guys saw reference to ten feet per second in the hint.
What he did was legal so long as the velocity of what he threw didn't get above
ten feet per second.
You could only throw it a foot and a half in gravity.
>> Looks like he came fairly close.
9.81 he says.
Very well calibrated.
So this is 50 points for blue.
>> They got an 18, five pointer and a 10.
They got another 100 points.
>> 150 for blue.
>> We've got 80 points in here, not doubled.
We have another 20 in this goal, which is doubled.
So we've got a total of 120 points for this alliance.
See, this is a good score.
Because while these guys are setting up again.
Let's talk about some of the other issues that are going to come up.
In this case, do we care what the loser's score is?
Yes, you do.
>> We always care.
And although again in an effort to simplify things the winner moves forward because
they have more points, something spectators have become familiar with.
We've simplified the multiplying and all that other stuff.
However, as the second tier of figuring out what your ceding is.
All four teams leave every round with the number of points of the losing group.
So if you've won eight rounds and you're in first cede along with 20 other teams
that they've won eight in a row the last few days.
Who is first cede?
The one who accumulated the most points.
But it will be the highest number of points accumulated in all the rounds by the
Therefore, if a very good team is competing with another team that is almost as
good, one of the consequences is you get more points either way.
If a really good team is competing with a rookie and manages to win 100 to 2,
shame on you.
Cooperation is still the heart of the game, as is gracious professionalism.
>> So we heard the comments about win and loss.
The first part of the ranking rounds, the first part of the tournament is simply
The next tier of ranking is the number of points and it's very clear that we think
you'll have quite a few ties.
So it still will not make sense to trounce your opponent.
You may, in fact, find it advantageous to try to help them at times.
So let's -- let's close with a few--
>> Two quick questions as well that we know will come up.
Where do the robots start?
They must start straddling the white line and up against and touching the diamond
Remember we said we're asking you to use common interpretations of words and simplify
What does straddling mean?
>> The big news is this year, don't go to law school.
We use words to mean what words mean.
This is a line.
Now I'm straddling it.
Now I am not straddling it.
I am still not straddling it.
I'm still not straddling it.
I'm straddling it.
The words mean what they mean.
I'm straddling the line and touching the wall.
That's all you need to know.
>> Other questions that you think will come up, Dave?
>> The infrared sensors.
This is a new technology.
Do we have to use it this year?
Well, the answer to that is no.
It's an option.
This year we're giving a new technology to you.
Giving you a lot of code to let you run with it.
This year it's an option.
I'm not saying anything yet about next year.
Get used to it.
>> What other questions will come up?
>> One of the ones we get as well is the height of the various different
In the blueprint that you have.
We realized we want to be clear about this and tell you now.
From the floor to the top of the pipes on the short goal is four feet.
For the static goals measured from the floor the front three pipes are six feet
tall, the back five are eight feet tall.
Four, six, eight.
Even I can remember.
>> One of the things that might come up is what was that hint about?
>> The hint.
Woodie has explained part of it.
Having to do with ten feet per second maximum vertical velocity to basically con
train, again, how far you can toss things.
Remember we talked in the beginning we're concerned about safety.
This is fundamentally a safety issue.
We don't want things moving too fast that may have the potential to leave the
It's why the limit is in place.
Then there is the other part of the hint.
A lot of folks caught on quick is what we gave you was a verse from the Led Zeppelin
song stairway to heaven.
It is also a little deeper than that.
Look carefully at the verse.
It means and is talking about being careful what picking what path you want to
You have a lot of options throughout your entire life and at any point you can
decide to take one road or the other.
You never know where they'll lead.
Remember what I talked about earlier.
Pick the right one and have fun with it.
>> We also have just for those that are still concerned about the various
things that might or might not work during that first 15 seconds, remember, if
you get it off, as soon as you get it off, your balls are released and you can
start the second phase.
If for some reason you don't get it done in the first 15 seconds, the penalty
is only another 30 seconds but at 45 seconds, whether you're able to do that or
not, at 45 seconds all the balls come down, you still have one minute and 15 seconds
to finish the round.
>> As you wander over here I want to assure everyone we have not forgotten
about the pediafile encryption key.
You'll see it.
>> I feel like I've just been through a Bill's season.
>> Good luck, everyone.
Have fun it.
>> It is going to be great.
>> The encryption key for the pediafile is on the screen.
Please write it down carefully.
It's case sensitive.
We recommend you key into a text file, copy it and paste it into each file you
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Non-encrypted versions are available on the first website.
Good luck to all the teams.