Archive for the ‘Robotics’ tag
We are thrilled to announce the availability of our two brand new virtual environments, the VEX EDR Robotics Competition – Starstruck and VEX IQ Challenge – Crossover. As in years past, these worlds are made available at the same time as their real world counterparts are unveiled at VEX Worlds!
The competitions for this year are both extremely exciting! With VEX Starstruck, matches are played on a field set up as seen below. The object of the game is to attain a high score by Scoring your Stars and Cubes in your Zones and by Hanging Robots on your Hanging Bar.
For VEX IQ Crossover, matches are played on a field set up as seen below. The object of the game is to attain the highest score by Scoring Hexballs in their colored Scoring Zone and Goals, and by Parking and Balancing Robots on the Bridge.
Using Robot Virtual Worlds will allow you to …
- Practice programming in the 2016-2017 game right away
- Compete with your classmates, or online (starting in the Fall)
- Form strategies using the virtual field
- Develop and test code on a simulated robot before running code on a real robot!
To help you get started with these new Robot Virtual Worlds, check out our video-based VEX Curriculum Series completely for free to help you get started with programming.
Click the following links for more information and to start play today – VEX Robotics Competition – Starstruck Virtual World, and here for the VEX IQ Challenge – Crossover Robot Virtual World.
Carnegie Mellon’s Robotics Academy has a great offering of certified technology training scheduled for VEX this summer, both online and on-site in Pittsburgh, PA!
Robotics Academy On-Site Training Includes:
- Online access to supplemental lessons from Robotics Academy materials
- Technical support for all hardware and software used in the class
- 24/7 access to class management system, forums, and message boards (monitored daily)
- Opportunities for Continuing Education credits and certificate of completion
- Tour of the National Robotics Engineering Center
Benefits of Robotics Academy Online Training Courses:
- Convenient online training gives you access from home or your school via the Internet.
- Online access to supplemental lessons from other Robotics Academy materials.
- Technical support for all hardware and software used in the class.
- At the end of the course, take the certification test to become a Robotics Academy Certified Instructor.
- Certificate of Completion upon course completion to apply for Continuing Education hours.
- 24/7 access to class forums and message boards (monitored daily)
Robotics Academy ROBOTC for VEX EDR Certified Technology Training
This course focuses on learning how to program CORTEX robots, and how to use robotics as an organizer to teach STEM (Science, Engineering, Technology, and Mathematics) concepts.
July 11th – 15th, 2016
August 1st – 5th, 2016
Jun 20th – 24th, 2016
Monday – Friday for 1 week
3 – 5pm EST (12 – 2pm PST)
This course focuses on learning how to program IQ robots, and how to use robotics as an organizer to teach STEM (Science, Engineering, Technology, and Mathematics) concepts.
June 20th – 24, 2016
July 18th – 22nd, 2016
Aug 1st – 5th, 2016
Monday – Friday for 1 week
3 – 5pm EST (12 – 2pm PST)
We are very excited to officially announce the winners of our VEX Virtual Programming Skills Challenge for both VEX EDR and VEX IQ! Winners of each competition received an invitation for their team to the VEX World Championship — April 20-23, 2016 at the Kentucky Expo Center in Louisville, Kentucky.
VEX EDR Winner: Friarbots B (Team # 3309B) from Anaheim, CA. The team member who received the high score was Matthew Krager.
VEX IQ Winner: Flash Robotics (Team # 5194a) from London, England. The team member who received the high score was Dominic Vald.
We’d also like to congrats the VEX EDR runner-up who will be attending VEX Worlds with the challenge invite, since Friarbots qualified for Worlds at their local competition. VEX EDR Runner-Up: Univ. Tec. de Altamira (Team # TAL2), from Alltarmira, Mexico. The team member who received the high score was Victor Francisco Chavez Bermudez
We look forward to seeing all them at VEX Worlds in a couple weeks!
ROBOTC for MINDSTORMS 4.53 preview is out and it sports a myriad of awesome new features that we’re very excited about! A full list of changes and improvements appear below, but here are the highlights:
Create Graphs from your Datalogs
Want to know what running your robot into a wall looks like to your accelerometer? Curious about how ambient light intensity varies throughout the day? Datalogging now supports (live) plotting of incoming data gathered on the robot brain. Science experiments involving sensor and motor data can be displayed. You can easily find out by gathering the data and having ROBOTC plot the data for you, as it comes in.
Datalogging is no longer restricted to just Full ROBOTC, we’ve added easy to use blocks that allow you to access the same functionality in a simple manner.
Additionally, logged data can even be exported for further analysis in a spreadsheet application of your choice.
ROBOTC Graphical Variable Support
You can now use variables in ROBOTC Graphical, as well as perform various operations on them. You can add, subtract, divide, multiple, whatever your program requires. You can use variables in loops, motor blocks, you name it!
ROBOTC Graphical Break and Continue
We’ve added two new program flow blocks, break and continue. This was a much requested feature from our more advanced users of ROBOTC Graphical. You can now create more complex programs without creating work-arounds or having to switch to ROBOTC Full.
Beta Channel Access
Want to have a front row seat when it comes to upcoming features in ROBOTC? Subscribe to the beta channel through ROBOTC’s preference menu and you will be notified when a preview build (such as this one), is released. Try out new and exciting features before we release them to the general public and provide us with feedback. Help make ROBOTC better!
Other changes and bug fixes
New features – MINDSTORMS
- Battery monitoring on the EV3 through the nImmediateBatteryLevel and nAvgBatteryLevel intrinsic variables has been added
Changes and Improvements – General
- The default colors in the Assembly window (F9) have new defaults for increased readability.
- Function tooltips have been revised and corrected where applicable.
- License error messages have been improved. A short explanation of the error codes is now provided.
- #info has been added to the list of support #pragma statements, such as #error and #warn
- The start and stop buttons on the datalogging control have been merged into a single button.
- Deleting a file from the File Utility was not possible, this has been fixed.
- We’ve made some visual changes to ROBOTC Graphical including new colours for enhanced readability.
- Internal improvements to the datalogging system have been made that resolve possible data corruption and inability to disable polling for a specific data series.
- Saving a New User Model in the Motors and Sensor Setup has been fixed.
- Various float conversion related issues have been fixed.
- NaN (Not a Number) detection has been fixed.
- Sscanf with more than 7 arguments could crash the VM, this has been fixed.
- Overloaded deprecated function no longer cause warnings.
- A discrepancy between the compiler and VM regarding the maximum number of tasks has been fixed.
- An issue with ROBOTC crashing due to a recursive macro has been addressed.
- The RVW package manager now shows the correct informational icon.
- Opening the RVW package manager no longer causes an exception under certain circumstances.
- An issue with the debugStream window background refresh causing a hang when communications with the robot was lost, has been remedied.
- The Program Debug window no longer crops the status line.
- You can now use displayInverseString() in combination with a char *.
- drawInvertRect and drawInvertEllipse were not deprecated correctly, this has been fixed.
Changes and Improvements – MINDSTORMS
- The original LEGO firmware file operations have been removed, their functionality has been superseded by ROBOTC file operations.
- EV3 specific datalogging functions have been marked as obsolete. Users should use the new datalogging functions.
- Restrictions on the file downloading locations on the EV3 have been relaxed a little.
- Opening the File Utility on the EV3 will create the rc and rc-data folders, if they don’t already exist.
- Playing a sound file from inside ROBOTC’s on-brick program folder is easier. It will check if a file with that name exists in the rc folder, before checking the built-in sounds folder.
- A memory leak in the EV3 connection handling has been fixed; disconnecting an EV3 while the debugger was running would eventually exhaust all program memory.
- Running a motor with a specified encoder count of 0 on the EV3 would produce unpredictable results, this has been fixed.
- An issue with reading data from the NXT Sonar sensor in the IDE has been fixed.
And let us know what you think of the new updates. Happy Programming!
The competition kicked off a few months ago, and we have NEW HIGH SCORES to share with you …
As some of you may know, we along with VEX Robotics and the REC Foundation have an exciting competition going on right now with the VEX and VEX IQ Programming Skills Challenges for Robot Virtual Worlds. This competition offers a low cost, high quality virtual competitions that enable students to test their problem solving and programming skills in the VEX Nothing But Net and VEX IQ Bank Shot Robot Virtual World Competitions. And, not only do these virtual competitions provide a great learning experience, the winner of each competition will receive an invitation to the VEX World Championship — April 20-23, 2016 at the Kentucky Expo Center in Louisville, Kentucky!
You still have one more week to compete and try to beat these high scores for a chance to qualify for VEX Worlds! Think you can do it? Learn more here robotc.net/recf and visit www.cs2n.org/competitions to sign up!
- Submissions for both contests are due by March 1, 2016.
- Winners will be announced on March 11, 2016!
And remember, you must submit both your score and code through CS2N.org to officially register for the competition.
The NWF Daily News in North West Florida published an article highlighting our Robot Virtual World competitions, focusing on our newest competition, the virtual Mini-Urban Challenge. The article talks about how our virtual competition is being used to help students test out their design before moving into the physical robotics competition. “Robomatter’s virtual world will test and exercise the Mini-Urban Challenge robots,” Steve Butler, the director of Doolittle Institute said. “The connection of our Mini-Urban ‘real world’ test environment to a bigger, simulated world will greatly enrich the experience of the participating students.”
To read the entire article, visit here – Robotic Competition Moves into Virtual World
To find out more about the Mini-Urban Challenge, visit their website here!
The School Year is Well Under Way, But There’s Still Plenty of Time to Make the Most of Your Classroom with the PLTW Upgrade Pack. Now on sale for $199!
When you purchase the PLTW Upgrade Pack, you’ll get:
- Robot Virtual Worlds
- Access to the Graphical Natural Language Programming Interface
- The ability to program VEX IQ robots
- Access for 100 seats for the rest of the school year
For our latest Cool Project, we have guest bloggers, Team 8086A – Team Semiconductors to discuss their unique dual-bot for last year’s VEX Robotics Skyrise competition. They went on to win the 2015 World Championship Science Division Create Award! Read more below …
For the 2014-2015 VEX Robotics game, Skyrise, Team 8086A, Team Semiconductors, built a very unique robot, a dual-bot. This robot’s unique design included many advantages, most significantly the ability to multitask. However, along with the advantages came many challenges. The team worked hard all year to conquer the challenges and the assistance of ROBOTC in many of these challenges was invaluable.
Team Semiconductor is a group of friends in Glen Allen, Virginia. This independent team has its roots in two middle school VEX World Championship competitive robotics teams, Team Theodore (6740C) and Team Dave (6740D). Several students from the two teams and their school’s Technology Student Association (TSA) who were moving on to high school and wanted to compete in VEX Robotics banded together to create a new team, Team Semiconductors. Midway through the 2014-2015 season (Skyrise), the team revealed their one-of-a-kind design: Arty the Dual-Bot.
Skyrise was the 2014-2015 Vex robotics game. The goal of Skyrise was to build a skyrise (a yellow pylon, built piece by piece). 4 points were awarded each section built, and putting cubes (hollow cubes, 8 inches wide) on the skyrise were worth another 4 points each. Then, you could put the cubes on varying height poles for 2 points, and if you had the top cube on the post, you scored 1 extra point. This was the tallest game vex had ever made. The highest item was the robot built skyrise which at max was about 60 inches tall.
Arty: The Dual-Bot
Arty is a very unique robot designed to compete in Skyrise: a dual-bot. Arty consisted of two parts each performing specialized tasks simultaneously: an immovable tower that is dedicated to building a skyrise, and a rover, whose task is to move around the field placing cubes on poles and on the skyrise. These two pieces have a connector running between the two holding the wiring, and they also give the robot its name, “Arty” (RT for Rover/Tower).
Team Semiconductors had multiple reasons for using a dual-bot. The most important reason was the ability to multi-task, which allowed for higher scoring and the ability to still compete if our alliance partner is a no-show. This bot was made possible due to the high scoring potential in the starting area, with scoring skyrises. We noticed that many robots that would do skyrises wouldn’t even leave the starting square for the first minute, while stacking skyrises. We thought it would be best to have a stationary robot in there to score those while another part of our robot was doing something else. One of the biggest advantages of the stationary tower was its precision; instead of relying on time to move the skyrise, we could use potentiometers to measure the position of our claw, and drop the pylon once it lined up.
Arty can score high by itself in matches, up to 58 points on its own without autonomous bonus, allowing it to be able to carry most matches, regardless of alliance partner. It also has high skills scores, with the second highest Driver Skills and Programming Skills scores in Virginia, with 43 and 27 points, respectively.
Two main factors came into play for us choosing ROBOTC to program Arty: it’s easy to learn and it has the ability to use tasks. The first factor was essential, as our team had no previous experience in ROBOTC. The only previous experience with programming robots our team had came from using block code. The transition to using a text-based language, especially one we had almost no base in was worrying, and lead to questions about our ability to learn the language in-time to program the robot. Our lead programmer had experience in programming languages, but no experience in C-based languages, meaning there was a lot of learning involved in the first few weeks of programming. However, after those few weeks, we felt confident in our abilities with the program, and were able to create the complex programs used in Arty with almost no syntax trouble.
The second factor was specific mainly to Arty, but still very important. Due to Arty being a dual-bot, we needed a way to run programs for the rover and the tower at the same time. This was allowed by tasks, which can run side by side with each other, unlike functions, which run one after the other. These tasks allowed us to run the rover and tower side by side, but also allowed for smaller additions to increase efficiency.
How ROBOTC was Used
As mentioned above, one of the key elements of our programming of “Arty” was the use of tasks for the control of both rover and tower. We used separate tasks in both driving and autonomous functions. We also used tasks to increase efficiency in our programs. For example, we used tasks to turn the tower arm and raise the tower simultaneously instead of one after the other to save time. One problem we came up against with tasks was the inability to pass inputs into the tasks. To get around this we created functions that modified global variables and then called the tasks, and used those global variables for things that would’ve needed to be input into the task.
One of the most interesting things we did in the rover’s drive tasks was creating a turret-centric drive. The turret on rover that could swing 360 degrees was always facing forward on the robot. Since we had an X-drive, any direction could be the front of the robot; it was all in how we programmed the wheels. One of the biggest problems rover had was its inability to turn without getting tangled in the connector. We put a turret on the top of the robot to prevent us from having to turn, but this made driving awkward. The solution to this: a turret-centric drive. We measured the location of the turret with a quad encoder and adjusted the values in Robot C according to which way the turret was facing. This made it so that whenever we hit up on the joystick the rover always drove in the direction its turret was facing, making it much easier to drive, since it now had a distinct “front”.
In programming our tower, we found that we were always doing the same thing, but we were just changing times for movement, and target locations to account for swing. To save time and space in our program we used a for loop that looped for however many skyrises we were going to build. At the start of the loop we had a switch statement to assign all the values based on which piece we were stacking. We then had our previous generic code that we had been writing out inserted, with variables instead of numbers being used. This saved a lot of time in programming, as all values that needed to be adjusted were easily found in one place.
Due to the way the tower was built, sometimes our arm would get caught on something, and not finish the turn. To get around this our turn function had a self-check built in. At the start of the task, we would calculate approximately how long it should take for our arm to reach its position. At the end of the time period, we would then check to make sure we were in position. If we were not, we’d raise our arm and then try to turn again. This process would repeat for 3 times at most. If it reached its location, it would then lower the arm the same amount it raised it and continue the program. If it never reached its location it would set a variable to false, and then the program would stop, to avoid wasting scoring objects by dropping them.
ROBOTC helped the team maximize our unique robot design and Team Semiconductors went on to win the 2015 World Championship Science Division Create Award with Arty the dual-bot. You can learn more about Team Semiconductors and follow us on social media at http://www.VEXTeam8086.org.
– Team Semiconductors
Test Your Skills with our Virtual Competitions!
If you’re looking for a cost-effective and fun way to participate in a robotics competition, check out or low cost, high quality virtual competitions that enable students to test their problem solving and programming skills.
Our VEX Nothing But Net and VEX IQ Bank Shot Robot Virtual World Competitions both simulate the single-player Robot Skills and Programming Skills modes of the physical Nothing But Net and Bank Shot competitions. And, the winners of the Robomatter sponsored VEX Nothing But Net and VEX IQ Bank Shot Robot Virtual World competition will receive an invitation to the VEX World Championship April 20-23, 2016 at the Kentucky Expo Center in Louisville Kentucky! To learn more, check out this blog post.
Do you have a cool ROBOTC project you want to share with the world? If so, send us an email at email@example.com and we’ll post it on our blog and social media pages!
The ROBOTC Development Team is very happy to announce the official release of ROBOTC 4.52. This update is for the VEX Robotics (VEX EDR CORTEX and VEX IQ) physical and virtual robotics systems and includes new features, improvements, and a load of bug fixes.
Important Setup Information for ROBOTC 4.52:
VEX IQ Users:
- Run the “VEX IQ Firmware Update Utility” and update your VEX IQ Brain to firmware version 1.15.
- Also update your VEX IQ Wireless Controller and any other VEX IQ Devices (sensors, motors).
- After updating to the latest VEX IQ Brain firmware, install the latest ROBOTC firmware from inside of ROBOTC.
VEX Cortex Users (with Black VEXnet 1.0 Keys):
- You will need to update your VEX Cortex and VEX Game Controllers with Master Firmware Version 4.25 from inside of ROBOTC.
- After updating the master firmware, you will also have to update the VEX Cortex with the latest ROBOTC firmware.
VEX Cortex Users (with White VEXnet 2.0 Keys):
- The new VEXnet 2.0 keys have a specific “radio firmware” that you will need to upgrade to enable “Download and Debugging” support. You can download the VEXnet Key 2.0 Firmware Upgrade Utility here.
- After updating your VEXnet 2.0 keys, you will need to update your VEX Cortex and VEX Game Controllers with Master Firmware Version 4.25 from inside of ROBOTC.
ROBOTC 4.50 —> 4.51 —> 4.52 Change Log:
New Features and Improvements:
- Added support for simple mathematical expressions in numerical text boxes in Graphical.
- Datalogging has been added for the VEX IQ platform.
- Users can now log data from inside your program, with or without a timestamp.
- Users can also configure motor, sensor and other values to be automatically polled at intervals as low as 10ms.
- Users can view data in ROBOTC as it polled in and save to a .CSV file for additional analysis in a popular spreadsheet software.
- You can use standard keyboard shortcuts to Select All, Copy, Cut and Paste in the Debugstream Window.
- Natural Language Library Files have been enhanced for improved readability.
- “Port with no Motor” has been added as an option for graphical blocks that use multiple motors – this will allow you to unselect a specific motor.
- Graphical Copy and Paste has been improved to work better with comment blocks.
- A flag (-SUPPRESS ) has been added to allow suppression of command line activation errors.
- When compiling multiple files at once, the IDE will remain more responsive to user interaction.
- A setMotorBrakeMode block has been added to Graphical, allowing motors to be set to either “float” or “brake”. This will allow motors to be setup as “free running”. This command can be found in “Expert” and above menu levels.
- Additional programming samples have been added
- User I2C commands for the Cortex has been implemented.
- Users can now use custom I2C sensors within their programs – custom I2C commands are compatible with using the VEX Integrated Motor Encoders.
- The list of loggable properties has been greatly trimmed down and sorted according to menu level. Static and irrelevant properties have been removed where appropriate.
- Datalogging has been enabled for the VEX Cortex platform
General Bug Fixes:
- ‘Trial’ indicator displays correctly, regardless of license combinations.
- Missing function added to the Function Library descriptions
- Fixed and improved “hover over” tool tip help descriptions inside of the Function Library.
- Resolved issue where the bottom of the Graphical Library view would not be cleared properly when scrolling
- Char arrays with “\0” are properly initialized.
- Selection of options inside of a Graphical Block can be reverted by using “undo”.
- Fix potential RVW file read issue from crashing ROBOTC.
- Several float-related issues resolved:
- Compiler incorrectly optimizes constant expressions with ‘float’ operands.
- Formatted printing does not work with negative floats
- Using nSemaphore.nOwningTask comparison no longer generates a compiler warning
- Two enum issues related to overflowed values have been fixed.
- Functions returning pointers no longer generate errors when used in Boolean logic expressions.
- Values from arrays of pointers assigned to another pointer, no longer cause errors.
- setMotorBrakeMode commands take immediate effect, rather than after the first motor speed command.
- Closing a source file could cause am unhandled exception under certain conditions, this has been resolved.
- Compiling multiple Graphical programs at once no longer generates an error that there is no code to compile.
- Fixed an issue where the Global Variable Base Address was incorrectly displayed.
- RVW Package Manager will only self-elevate if multiple level packs are being installed.
- Numerous small visual enhancements and fixes.
- Clearing a datalog series now clears the listbox properly.
- The Datalog debug pane can now be opened in Basic menu level.
- Changing Datalog source could lead to incorrect properties being shown, this has been fixed.
- The UploadDatalog intrinsic is no longer exposed to the user.
- Clicking download in the auto check for updates dialog did not work properly, this has been fixed.
VEX Bug Fixes:
- VEX IQ no longer crashes when using Ternary String Decisions
- Users are now alerted when a VEX IQ program exceeds the max allowed compiled program file size.
- Fixed issue where using playSoundFile on VEX cortex would generate a compiler error
- Compile errors in sample programs for the VEX IQ Smart Radio messaging have been resolved.
- Fixed an issue where a disconnected Ultrasonic Sensor was not returning -1 when disconnected from the VEX Cortex.
- Motors dialog pane for VEX Cortex now shows default motor names, rather than port names.
- An enum for the VEX IQ data path values instead of using raw numbers, has been added.
- Prevent users from using sscanf with floats on the VEX IQ to avoid crashing the brain
- Previously, setMotorTarget on the Cortex would not work correctly if the encoder had been reset to 0, this has been fixed.
- On the Cortex, moveMotorTarget was not working as intended, this has been remedied.
- Intrinsics to return the IME velocity values have been added.
- IME velocity is now shown correctly in the motor debug window, for Cortex.
- A bug with PID using Quad Encoders has been fixed.
- bUseVexI2CEncoderVelocity has been obsoleted, it was not tied to any internal functionality.
Tetris is a beloved and well-known classic game that many of us have been addicted to at one point or another. We wait patiently for that perfect “Tetrimino” that will create a horizontal line so the board continues to move down so the game keeps going. Well, our latest Cool Project does just that, but on a VEX IQ brain and programmed in ROBOTC!
Petr Nejedly created the game as an experiment to see what could be done with the VEX IQ platform outside of robotics. He says, “I have coded it ad-hoc in one night. The code is pretty … short, not really pretty. 233 lines including (rare) comments.” When we spoke through email he mentioned that game is currently not random at all. “So, my son came to me, that he has an improvement to the program. That I should use this random() function, it will be more fun to play … Teachable moment! We have discussed, how a computer, a very exact instrument that always follows the same instructions and in fact only moves numbers here and there, come up with random numbers. What is a PRNG and how you have to seed it (srand()), what are real sources of randomness and what kind of issues such a lack of true randomness could cause in real world, besides lack of fun.” At this point, Petr said he would like to leave the actual fix to the curious readers/programmers out there to see what they can do with it. (Let us know if you do!)
Check out the game in action here:
Do you have a cool ROBOTC project you want to share with the world? If so, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll post it on our blog and social media pages!