A discussion forum for proposed changes to the AWS rules (2014)

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Post by EpicentrE »

I wanted to open a topic of discussion on the subject of EDFs.

I had this discussion with quite a few experienced roboteers at the AWS, and there was one thing we all pretty much agreed on: they didn't like them. Even those who have built and have won with robots with EDFs dislike them. Andy specifically said he would rather not enter ALBOF, but he feels it's his best chance of winning.

My personal view is that they add nothing of worth to the competition. They make a design that is already capable of being very dominant in our arenas (the pusher) even stronger, without any clear disadvantages. In antweights, more than any other weightclass, getting under people is extremely important because we have so much easily-accessible drop-off, and having an EDF makes that almost trivial. Even if your opponent can get under you, they cannot out push you because of the downforce, even if they have superior torque and traction (as we saw with Stanley vs ALBOF in the final of AWS46), nor can they flip you (as we saw with Void vs ALBOF in the final of AWS47). The design, if driven well, is nigh-unbeatable for anything other than a robot with a spinner, axe or crusher damaging the fan directly, and even then this only serves to even the match-up in the first place, not swing it in the other direction. While robot combat is always a little bit rock-paper-scissors, I don't believe it should ever be the case that a certain type of robot is almost entirely dominant unless you have a specific weapon in order to deal with it.

The opinions of those I spoke to at the AWS ranged from banning them entirely, to limiting the size of the fan or the allowable amount of downforce, to leaving them as-is for now but monitoring the situation.

I am personally of the opinion that even if you disagree with my analysis above, if something is almost universally disliked and seen as uninteresting, but people still feel they need to do it because it is an incredibly powerful option, it should be banned in order to promote the concept that people should be able to win with whatever type of robot they most want to build.

As always, I'm very interested to read the opinions of others on this matter.
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Re: EDFs

Post by Rapidrory »

EDF pushers definitely seem to be universally disliked by the community (myself included), though they aren't all quite as infallible as you say; ALBOF certainly is near unbeatable, but then again this is true of many of Andy's creations. Other EDF bots aren't so quite so unfairly advantaged, for example SmartFanz at the last AWS, which won one fight before loosing to Anticide and Stewie.

There may be some mileage in saying a robot with an EDF must have an active weapon, as this limits the size of the fan that can be used, and requires a lot more technical skill to fit it all in. However this is obviously open to abuse as you could claim a tiny servo attached to a paperclip is a grabber and carry on just pushing people out of the arena. Either that or limiting the maximum fan size to 30mm or something to stop the advantage from being quite so overwhelming. I wouldn't necessarily want to see them banned entirely, as there are many creative things that can be done with them, but I definitely think restricting their usage in some way would be no bad thing.
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Re: EDFs

Post by joey_picus »

Limit the maximum allowable battery capacity? That might be a bit extreme but it would certainly help curtail the effectiveness of EDFs without (I think - I'm probably wrong!) affecting any other type of robot. I remember Andy saying he had about 15 seconds left by the time he beat Void in the final.

I have to admit I'd be in favour of some kind of restriction (add me to the universal dislike club! Do we get shirts?) but I don't think it should be just EDF-specific - having something aimed at 'any system primarily aimed at generating or increasing downforce' would be better since the same arguments can be applied to magnets in a metal floored arena, and if you have 'maximum fan size' in the rules people may feel like they're almost a requirement...

EDITED: I realised after re-reading what I'd posted that I was more in favour of a ban than not - I wish to plead incompetence and early in the morning, even though it's 12 XD
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Re: EDFs

Post by Nixon »

Is there any way to redesign an arena to reduce the effectiveness of an EDF?
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Re: EDFs

Post by Shakey »

Nixon wrote:Is there any way to redesign an arena to reduce the effectiveness of an EDF?
Not without seriously harming many designs of robot. The problem being that EDFs work in most situations and are simply adding to a characteristic of a robot rather than adding a new one (downforce) makes it difficult to discriminate against through the arena, though someone may have a better idea.

I can't type my full views right now due to a lack of time but I am in the camp of wanting to ban or restict EDF's in some way. Having run them and fought them it is not exciting for me on either side of the fence.
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Re: EDFs

Post by Lincoln »

the problem with limiting size of the fan or capacity of the battery is (as I proved) you and just have two fans and two battery's. I think the only way to deal with edf's would be to ban them(which I don't want to do purely because I just spent lots of time and money building one) we have no limits on particular weaponry only band some types of weapons
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Re: EDFs

Post by Remote-Controlled Dave »

I have a problem with all this. Now, I hate them too. They are boring to fight against and don't bring anything cool to the table. However I can't find a good enough reason to ban or even limit them.
If we want to continue treating this as a sport then rules have to be there for a reason and its not good enough to say "we banned EDFs because everyone hates them". Nor can you argue that they offer an unfair advantage, because there have been many that have been beaten - Vacuum, Succulant, Fantom, Kiwi, SmartFanzz, \_/, Ceiling Bot...all EDFs, all beaten in competitions, some relatively easily.
All I hear from the arguments presented here is what people want to ban is GOOD EDFs. Or, what you want to actually ban is Andy's EDFs. And I cant think of any decent argument to do so. Bringing in a rule that limits this kind of thing isn't really right. Many people thought Vacuum would never be beaten when it first appeared, but then it became beaten.
If Andy himself is bored of his EDF and everyone hates it then maybe he could have the good grace to withdraw it from competition? Does he really HAVE to win that badly? I would win a lot more fights if I went back to building 4 wheel drive pushbots but I choose not to.
I just don't think any of the conversation here is the least bit constructive, talking about banning something perfectly within the rules just because we all dislike it. Unless anyone can give me another cohesive argument for it that I've missed? I don't like 3D printing. Its successful and can offer advantages to those who use it well, same as EDFs but I wouldn't call to ban it.
I don't get it, sorry.
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Re: EDFs

Post by Andrew_Hibberd »

I agree with Scott EDFs should be discussed and a decision made about rules. I take antweight robots competitively and progress towards designs that have a better chance of winning over more fun designs. Silicone and polyurethane wheels give a grip advantage and the majority of robots now use these wheels and I will on future designs.

After loosing to Stanley by being out maneuvered and out pushed at previous AWS events, I created EPZ as a cluster grabber and albof as a heavy anti-pusher pusher. Albof has been a very successful design and has not lost a competitive fight in 3 events. However I will add it has not fought against a spinner and void is the only robot ever to have flipped it.

I am looking at building a new robot to replace the old anticide. My first design methodology is how to beat Albof; i can't directly out push him without an EDF/ I can't flip it/ an axe, flail to break the fan isn't going to beat other robots/ a spinner will go flying when it hits something that heavy/ pneumatics are not reliable enough/ i can grab him then what...

The problem with this is inevitably I design something with an EDF as it has a higher probability of winning against Albof.

I will withdraw Albof from the next AWS to build something more creative. What would be frustrating if there are lots of EDF robots which my (non EDF) creative design looses against, but Albof may have won. Or a 4wd pusher (with a new lifter) wins which was the reason I built Albof in the first place.

I also know that various people have spent money on EDFs, I have several in my bits box for ants and fleas. Any bans would make this a wasted investment of time and money.
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Re: EDFs

Post by Max »

I kinda agree with Dave on this, it doesn't seem quite right to ban a particular design just because it is successful.

However, I have nothing against altering the arena to disfavour robots that are generally disliked and seen as boring (ie. Pushers!)
Remote-Controlled Dave wrote: I would win a lot more fights if I went back to building 4 wheel drive pushbots but I choose not to
I think this shows what I consider to be the issue, pushbots are the most effective weapon yet they are boring and often easy to build, I believe it should be a challenge to win and require a clever design (but not necessarily one that is TOO hard to build). Other weight classes have a small pit so that pushers stand a chance, they are a legitimate weapon choice so beginners can build them and experience some success, but the more experienced and better roboteers build flippers and spinners, not because they don't want to be boring but because they think these more interesting/exciting designs stand a better chance of winning.

In heavyweights everyone was bored of every fight ending in an oota and lasting only 10 seconds, so they modified the arenas by putting wire fences around the arena to stop these boring fights. My suggestion is we do the same and modify the arena to make building a pusher (and hence EDF) less attractive. There is a lot of fear that reducing the drop off will make fights longer, and I'm sure this is true but if we do reduce it and instead have low/medium walls or other things then fewer people would build pushers and so fights would still be over relatively quickly as a pusher vs pusher match would be quite rare. I would rather have fewer longer fights where the best robot/driver wins than have more short fights that end with someone accidently driving out.

In summary: Down with pushers! Reduce the drop off!
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Re: EDFs

Post by Rapidrory »

Andrew_Hibberd wrote: However I will add it has not fought against a spinner..
I was disappointed not to get drawn against ALBOF with Why Wait in the final stages of the competition at the weekend; would have been interesting to see it fight a manoeuvrable spinner...

I believe ALBOF is perfectly beatable; the final of AWS 46 could easily have gone either way, and I had control over it briefly with Bullydozer at the last event until I lifted it too high. The armour is also just 3D printed; unlike the impenetrable front of Void and other low Ti scoops, a good spinner can take chunks out of it.. It is just a very difficult bot to beat..

Also the 'reduce the drop off' debate has be done almost to death by this point. Progress is being made in that direction but unless it was removed entirely EDF bots would still be very powerful, and the event in Wales showed that removing the drop off entirely wasn't a good solution (although it was good fun!)
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