42,000 students to compete with NI robotics platform

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More than 42,000 students in the FIRST robotics competition will develop advanced robotics applications using the NI Robotics Platform, which is powered by NI LabVIEW.

42,000 students to compete with NI robotics platformFIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is a nonprofit organisation that inspires young people to be science and technology leaders. This body 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.

The CompactRIO platform gives high-school students access to advanced control capabilities and superior performance, including a 400MHz PowerPC and FPGA-based I/O. The CompactRIO modular I/O system offers connectivity to a wide array of sensor and actuator options and powerful real-time vision processing to build a highly advanced robot. Students will be able to create robots that may be driver-controlled or run in fully autonomous mode using the latest technologies including wireless monitoring and simulation for more in-competition control and more accurate designs.

NI is granting a multi-million-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. These 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.

Excellence in science and engineering

Dean Kamen, Founder of FIRST and President of DEKA Research and Development Corporation, comments: “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. It is the support of partners like NI that is helping FIRST make that goal a reality.”

FIRST engages and encourages students to discover the excitement of science and engineering through a range of robotics competitions including 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 students to age-appropriate technology in an exciting, hands-on learning environment.

Ray Almgren, Vice President of Academic Relations at National Instruments, states: “We have 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. 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”.

Visit for more information on all FIRST programmes or for more information on the National Instruments academic programme. Alternatively, use the form on this page to request a callback or more information.

18 April 2008

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