The first step is always to understand the FTC Game, which includes a brief animation (link to 2018-19 Rover Ruckus season) overview and comprehensive game manuals.
The team then strategizes what tasks are most important by evaluating the tradeoffs between risk and reward (potential points scored). This year the team used Macbooks and Google Drive to help define their game strategy. The interactive spreadsheet helped the team analyze the risk/reward tradeoffs and calculate approximate points per second.
The next step, once we've decided which scoring tasks are the highest priority, is to brainstorm design solutions. We have found using large sticky notes and presenting our ideas to each other is an efficient process. This process also encourages all team members to contribute their ideas and to think "out-of-the-box."
Prototyping the sub-assemblies (i.e., drive train, ball collection and scoring alternatives, sensors, etc.) gives us useful feedback, fairly efficiently, on which ideas will work best. A variety of materials are used, everything from Tetrix parts, cardboard, plastic, foam, and other raw materials.
The software team uses an Android Studio-based programming environment. Several team members are proficient in JAVA but constantly mentor new members.
This year's challenge includes a lot of autonomous navigation that requires pre-programmed software that can use gyro, light, and color sensors. The challenge also allows for vision targets (three different images) to assist robots with more accurate navigation during the autonomous period. In addition, the students learned to use GitHub as a collaborative development tool.