FIRST Robotics Picks National Instruments

May 4, 2008
FIRST Uses CompactRIO by National Instruments in Next Competition

FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), a nonprofit organization inspiring young people to be science and technology leaders, has selected the National Instruments CompactRIO embedded control platform as its next-generation FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) robot controller. With this platform, high school students will create advanced robots starting in the 2009 FIRST season. Students can program their robots based on CompactRIO in either NI LabVIEW graphical programming software or the ANSI C language.

NI is granting a multimillion dollar in-kind donation over the next five years to FIRST to provide the CompactRIO system to participating teams. Several key technology suppliers have collaborated with NI to provide in-kind donations of components required to build the CompactRIO control system. The industry-leading  technology companies include Analog Devices, Boston Engineering, ChipX, Dove Electronics, Freescale, MSI, Texas Instruments, TTI, Westak, Wind River, Worcester Polytechnic Institute and Xilinx. Their support is helping NI to supply a leading-edge, highly sophisticated embedded platform equivalent to the most advanced industrial systems.

“Our goal is to have a FIRST team in every high school and to change the culture in our communities to celebrate excellence in science and engineering the same way we celebrate sports,” said Dean Kamen, founder of FIRST and president of DEKA Research & Development Corp. “It’s the support of partners like NI that is helping FIRST make that goal a reality.”

FIRST engages and encourages students and helps them to discover the excitement of science and engineering through a range of robotics competitions. These include Junior FIRST LEGO League, FIRST LEGO League, FIRST Technical Challenge and FIRST Robotics Competition. With the partnership between NI, LEGO and FIRST, 150,000 students in all FIRST competitions will have access to a progressive programming platform starting with LEGO Mindstorms NXT-G and continuing through NI LabView. This robotics software continuum introduces the students to age-appropriate technology in an exciting, hands-on learning environment.

“We’ve chosen to partner with FIRST because we believe the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) program will have a substantial impact in creating more scientists and engineers” said Ray Almgren, vice president of Academic Relations at National Instruments. “By adding CompactRIO and LabView to the robotics platform of their competition, FIRST will increase the technical capabilities of the teams’ robots while making the programming more accessible to a much larger and diverse group of students because of the ease of use and productivity in NI LabView graphical programming.