WPI Selected by FIRST to Create Control System Software

WPI to supply text-based languages to be used by more than 1,000 robotics teams worldwide
April 26, 2013

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During the opening ceremony of the FIRST Championship in St. Louis, Mo., today, FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) announced that it has selected Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) to support the new FIRST control system by developing software to be used by FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) teams starting in 2015.

Under the agreement, WPI will continue to develop the text-based language tools (C++ and Java) that are currently used by about half of the more than 2,500 FRC teams worldwide. WPI has provided the control system software tools since the system was first introduced in 2009.

Dean Kamen '73, founder of FIRST and president of DEKA Research and Development, told the audience about the importance of the new control system. Ray Almgren, vice president of corporate marketing and platform adoption for National Instruments, which won the contract to create the system hardware, spoke about the importance of the collaboration between NI and WPI and the other members of the control system team.

An estimated 25,000 people are attending the FIRST Championship, including participants in the four FIRST programs for K-12: FRC, FIRST Tech Challenge, FIRST LEGO League, and Junior FIRST LEGO League.

Brad Miller, a member of WPI’s Robotics Resource Center, said being selected by FIRST is significant. “This means that the software libraries that teams use worldwide are based on work we do here at WPI,” he said.

Frank Merrick, FRC acting director, said, “We’re excited to continue our partnership with WPI. Their contribution to the control system has been invaluable.”

In addition to the control system announcement, Miller said a FIRST/WPI Research Group has been created to take technology developed through WPI's academic and research programs in robotics engineering and make it available to FIRST teams.