FIRST Robotics Competition
|Current season or competition:
|Motto||The varsity sport for the mind
Exceed your own expectations (2014)
|No. of teams||2,850|
|Most recent champion(s)||Chairman's Award Winner:
1538: The Holy Cows
1477: Texas Torque
610: The Coyotes
|TV partner(s)||NASA TV|
The FIRST Robotics Competition is an international high school robotics competition organized by FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology). Each year, teams of high school students compete to build robots weighing up to 120 pounds (54 kg), not including battery and bumpers, that can complete a task, which changes every year. While teams are given a standard set of parts, they are also allowed a budget and encouraged to buy or make specialized parts as long as they conform to FIRST safety rules. Game details are revealed at the beginning of January and the teams are given six weeks to construct a competitive robot, that can operate autonomously as well as when guided by wireless controls, to accomplish the game's tasks.
In 2010, the 19th year of competition, 1,808 high school teams with roughly 45,000 students from Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Turkey, the Netherlands, Israel, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Mexico were involved. In 2011, 2,075 teams participated in competitions in the United States, Canada, and Israel. 2,850 teams are projected to participate in the 2014 season.
- 1 History
- 2 TV coverage
- 3 Competition
- 4 Teams
- 5 Competitive events
- 6 Kit of parts
- 7 Media exposure
- 8 Games
- 9 Gallery
- 10 See also
- 11 Notes
- 12 References
- 13 External links
FIRST was founded in 1989 by inventor and entrepreneur Dean Kamen, with inspiration and assistance from physicist and MIT professor emeritus Woodie Flowers. Kamen has stated that FIRST is the invention he feels most proud of for creating, and predicts that participants who have taken part in its contests so far will be responsible for some significant technological advances in years to come. The first FRC season was in 1992 and had only one event at a high school gymnasium in New Hampshire. That first competition was relatively small-scale, similar in size to today's FIRST Tech Challenge and Vex Robotics Competition games. In its first year, robots relied on a wired connection to receive data from drivers; in the following year, it quickly transitioned to a wireless system.
Since 2005, the games have been played with two opposing "alliances" each composed of three teams. Prior to 2005, a variety of other formats were used, including 2-team alliances, 4-team alliances and 3 teams competing independently.
The FIRST Championship (and by extension, the FRC championships), which has been held at a large scale venue since 1995, has been held at Epcot Center in Orlando, Reliant Park in Houston, the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, and the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis.
Over the years, FIRST has attracted the sponsorship of major companies such as Boeing, Microsoft, National Instruments, Google, Texas Instruments, and United Technologies. The main controller on FRC robots is a National Instruments CompactRIO. Starting in the 2015 season, the main controller will be the roboRIO, also a National Instruments product, designed specifically for use by FRC. The 2012 game featured the use of Microsoft Kinect systems.
From 1996 to 1998, the FIRST Championship was covered by ESPN. Live coverage is currently provided by NASA TV, which can be viewed on the internet, TVRO, DirecTV, and Dish Network; the sophistication of the broadcast of each event is dependent on the organizers of that event, and range from professionally called with color commentary, such as the 2011 Michigan State Championship, to single-camera setups with no commentary other than the on-field play caller, which is typical of most events.
Every year, a different game is played. However, many game rules do not change from year to year and the competitive structure has not changed significantly since the competition started. Teams are randomly assigned alliances of 3 teams, which are paired into qualification matches, where they earn 'qualifying points', the calculation of which changes each year. The game changes every year, but for the most part, they involve some autonomous (computer controlled) robot operation for 10–15 seconds at the beginning of a match, followed by a much longer period (usually 2 minutes) of remote control. Teams use scoring objects on the field to get points, and they sometimes get bonus points for achieving tasks such as ending with the robot on a platform, behind a certain line, or even hanging from a field structure.
Members of the FRC community are generally very friendly and cooperative with one another; at competitions, it is commonplace for teams to aid each other in repairs and improvements, even if the involved teams are slated to compete against each other. Most regional competitions have systems set up to facilitate the lending of parts and tools between teams. A notable example of parts-sharing is the "One-Day Wonder". In 2004, at the Championship Event in Atlanta, GA, the Tottenville High School Pyrobots found themselves without a robot due to a shipping error. The Robotic Eagles (358), Adams Robotics (1340), the Killer Bees (33), and the Goodrich Martians (494), some of who would be on opposing teams in future matches, donated parts, tools, and assistance constructing a competition ready robot within a single day - a feat which the competition allows six weeks for.
Many teams also choose to collaborate during the build season. The degree of collaboration can range from sharing part designs to each team building exactly the same robot. FIRST has encouraged this practice, as shown in an official Q&A response from 2006:
Q: Is collaboration between 2 teams acceptable and encouraged by FIRST?
A: Absolutely. Teams are encouraged to share their knowledge, experience, and innovations with each other on and off the play field, as well as before, during and after the competition season. Without inter-team collaborations, many of the central elements of the FIRST philosophy - such as distribution of technical innovations, team workshops, shared designs, software code-sharing, teams mentoring teams, team-run off-season events, etc. - would all be impossible. The whole concept of "coopertition" is based on the idea of teams helping each other to compete.
The competition is a yearly event. The most intense participation occurs between the months of January and April, but "mini-competitions" are hosted by many teams in school gymnasiums throughout the year. In early January, FIRST announces the details of a game to all participating teams. The game changes very much from year to year, with only a few rules such as the approximate size of the robot staying the same.
During the build season, the six weeks following the kickoff, the teams begin to design a robot that is able to play the game, essentially from scratch. Team members typically spend the time designing strategies to play the game, drawing up ideas for robot parts, working with size and weight constraints, and finally, building and assembling their robot. Other challenges include gaining driver experience, building the electronics for the robot, and software development. After the build season has ended (usually the 3rd full week of February), teams must stop work on their robot before transporting it to the location of their first competition. This date is typically referred to as "ship date," as past competitions required the shipment of the robot to the first competition on this date. However, competitions are increasingly "bag and tag," where robots are sealed in a bag prior to competitions, and transported at the team's expense. Although the term "bag and tag date" has been proposed, "ship date" is still far more commonly used. Competitions for FIRST consist of dozens of regional competitions and one championship event.
The Championship event is held every year in April, and brings together the world championship competitions for FRC, FTC, and FLL. For FRC, the championship event consists of four divisions of 85–95 teams competing on one of four fields: Galileo, Newton, Archimedes and Curie. The teams compete for the division championship title in the same way they would compete in a regional. The division champions then bring their robots over to the Einstein field to compete in an elimination tournament to determine the champion.
The FIRST Robotics Competition is most prominent in the United States, where FIRST was originally founded, though teams from Canada have been disproportionately successful. FIRST urges teams and sponsors to expand the reach of FRC by helping start new FIRST teams. International expansion has been most successful in North America where there are over 1,200 teams in the United States and over 70 in Canada (mostly in Ontario and Quebec). FIRST Robotics has recently reached Mexico, where 12 teams have been founded since 2007. There is a significant contingent of around 50 FRC teams in Brazil and Israel. Both countries have hosted regional competitions in the past; Israel continues to host one yearly, guaranteeing at least three Israeli or European teams in the Championship.
Concept and teams
The FIRST Robotics Competition involves teams of mentors (corporate employees, teachers, or college students) and high school students who collaborate to design and build a robot in six weeks. This robot is designed to play a game, which is designed by FIRST and changes from year to year. This game is announced at a nationally simulcast kickoff event in January. Regional competitions take place around the United States as well as in Canada and Israel, but FIRST has a multinational following that further includes the United Kingdom, Brazil, Australia, and Germany.
Teams are expected to solicit individuals, sponsors, and businesses for support in the form of donations of time, money, or skills. The average team has approximately 25 students, but participation has ranged from 4 to 100.
A FRC team typically has approximately 25 students, but can range anywhere from 3 to 100. Teams are also sponsored and aided by adult mentors, who can be professional engineers, teachers, parents, college students, or any other interested adults. The degree to which the mentors are involved varies significantly from team to team. FIRST's recommended season stretches the full year, starting with recruiting and fundraising in September to December, robot construction and competition in January through April, then returning to fundraising and community involvement events until August.
Most FIRST regional events take place between Thursday and Saturday in a week in March. Thursday is typically a practice day where matches take place but do not count towards final standings. All day Friday and on Saturday morning, teams participate in qualifying matches. On Saturday afternoon, after the qualification matches have ended, the top eight ranked teams will pick partners from any team ranked below them, and the resulting alliances will compete to be regional winner. The top teams pick their partners starting with the top-ranked team, proceeding to the 8th ranked team, then back from the 8th team to the 1st team again. The alliances picked this way then proceed into elimination rounds, set up into quarterfinals, semifinals, and finals. Each quarterfinal, semifinal, and final is determined by a best-of-3 matchup between the two alliances. All three teams in an alliance that wins a regional earns a reserved spot at the championship event, which in 2011-2014, was held in St. Louis, Missouri. Hall of Fame teams and Legacy teams—teams that competed in every FRC season from 1992—are automatically qualified for the Championships, regardless of regional statistics.
Tiers of competitive events
All events have the same tournament structure: qualification matches followed by elimination matches.
District events are smaller than regional events and are held at much smaller venues, usually high school gymnasiums. A typical district event has about 40 teams. Winning a district event does not necessarily qualify a team for the FIRST Championship. For 2009 through 2011, the US state of Michigan was the only region to hold district events. Beginning with 2012, a second district region was created, the Mid-Atlantic Robotics Region (MAR), comprising New Jersey, Delaware and eastern Pennsylvania. Beginning with the 2014 season, New England and the Pacific Northwest have also been turned into district events. Performance at district events earn teams points to qualify for their respective district championships.
District Championship Events
Michigan and MAR each hold district championships during Week 7 of the regional season. The best-performing teams during the districts qualify for the district championship, and a number of teams qualify for the World Championship, some based on winning or receiving awards, and others on the point system. 27 teams from Michigan (3 Winners, 3 Chairman's Award Winners, 1 Engineering Inspiration Award Winner, 1 Rookie All-Star Award Winner, and the next 19 highest ranked teams) and 14 MAR teams (3 Winners, 2 Chairman's Award Winners, 2 Engineering Inspiration Award Winners, 1 Rookie All-Star Award Winner, and the next 6 highest ranked teams) qualify for the World Championship through their district systems.
Regionals typically involve between 30–65 teams, and regional events with more than 70 teams are usually split into two: for example, the Duluth and Seattle events have two regionals that share the same arena at the same time, and in Minneapolis, two regionals are held simultaneously in separate arenas. Teams that win a regional event automatically qualify for the FIRST Championship. There are many regionals across the world. They tend to last around 3 days. 
The FIRST Championship is the culmination of the season's FIRST programs. The event includes the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) Championship, the FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) World Championship, and the FIRST LEGO League (FLL) World Festival. Also featured is the Junior FIRST LEGO League (Jr.FLL) World Festival Expo.
Due to FIRST's mission to exposing students and the community at large to science and engineering, the three most prestigious awards they give out are awarded not to teams that have demonstrated prowess in the game, but to those teams and individuals who have done the most to realize FIRST's mission.
The Chairman's Award is the most prestigious award a team can win at a regional or at the championship, more so than even winning the competition itself. Demonstrating the prestige of the award, a team that wins a Regional Chairman's Award receives a reserved spot at the championship event so that they may compete for the Championship Chairman's award, regardless of their on-field performance. The Chairman's award was created to recognize teams that demonstrate the greatest commitment to spreading passion about science and technology into their communities and schools. Submission involves writing an essay of no more than 10,000 characters documenting the team's efforts at spreading the message of FIRST, a five-minute presentation to a panel of judges—followed by a five-minute Q&A session for the judges—and a three-minute video. New to the 2014 season, teams are allowed to present their Chairman's Award submission at all events they attend - regional or district - until they win
Woodie Flowers Award
The Woodie Flowers Award (WFA) is awarded to a mentor within a team that the team believes has made a large contribution to them and deserves to be recognized. Criteria is based on how well the chosen mentor inspires the students towards better communication and engineering. Each team may submit one mentor at one regional for the regional Woodie Flowers Award. At each regional, one regional WFA winner is selected. Any regional WFA winner is eligible to be considered for the Championship WFA, though past regional WFA winners may not again win a regional WFA, to allow other mentors the chance to be recognized. The WFA trophy itself is a head-sized Möbius strip with bearings inside it.
Dean's List Award
The Dean's List Award is given to individual student team members. Much like the Woodie Flowers Award for mentors, the Dean's List Award is to recognize students for their technical knowledge, leadership skills, and their ability to inspire their team toward the mission of FIRST. Teams are allowed to recognize 2 students on their team as Dean's List Semi-Finalist, as semi-finalist they eligible to win the Dean's List Finalist Award at a regional. 2 Dean's List Finalist Awards are given out at every regional. At the annual FIRST Championship 10 finalists are then awarded the Dean's List Award during a special award ceremony.
Kit of parts
At the start of the FIRST season all teams receive the Kit Of Parts and the game description. The kit includes the control system and a collection of parts to build a basic robot, as well as many parts donated by participating sponsors. Besides the control system, the kit includes items such as motors, structural components, speed controllers, pneumatic actuators, wheels, and gearboxes, as well as programming and design software. As soon as the teams receive their kit of parts, the 6-week build season begins. Teams are allowed to purchase additional off-the-shelf items where each individual item value may not exceed $400 USD with a total maximum project budget of $4,000.
The PBS documentary "Gearing Up" followed four teams through the 2008 season.
During the 2010 FIRST Robotics Competition season, FIRST team 3132, Thunder Down Under <http://www.thethunderdownunder.org>, was followed by a Macquarie University student film crew to document the first year of FRC in Australia. The crew produced a documentary film called I, Wombot. The film premiered during the 2011 Dungog Film Festival.
A book called The New Cool was written by Neal Bascomb about the story of Team 1717 from Goleta, California as they competed in the 2009 game season. A movie adaptation directed by Michael Bacall is being produced.
The CNN documentary "Don't Fail Me: Education in America", which aired on 15 May 2011, followed three FRC teams during the 2011 season. The documentary profiled one student from each team, covering different geographic and socioeconomic levels: Shaan Patel from Team 1403 Cougar Robotics, Maria Castro from Team 842 Falcon Robotics, and Brian Whited from Team 3675 Eagletrons.
On 14 August 2011, ABC aired a special on FIRST called "i.am FIRST: Science is Rock and Roll" that featured many famous musical artists such as The Black Eyed Peas and Willow Smith. will.i.am himself was the executive producer of the special. The program placed a special focus on the FIRST Robotics competition, even though it included segments on the FIRST Tech Challenge, FIRST Lego League, and Junior FIRST Lego League.
- 2014: Aerial Assist
- 2013: Ultimate Ascent
- 2012: Rebound Rumble
- 2011: Logomotion
- 2010: Breakaway
- 2009: Lunacy
- 2008: FIRST Overdrive
- 2007: Rack 'n Roll
- 2006: Aim High
- 2005: Triple Play
- 2004: FIRST Frenzy: Raising the Bar
- 2003: Stack Attack
- 2002: Zone Zeal
- 2001: Diabolical Dynamics
- 2000: Co-Opertition FIRST
- 1999: Double Trouble
- 1998: Ladder Logic
- 1997: Toroid Terror
- 1996: Hexagon Havoc
- 1995: Ramp 'n Roll
- 1994: Tower Power
- 1993: Rug Rage
- 1992: Maize Craze
|FIRST Robotics Competition|
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- "FIRST At A Glance". FIRST. 4 January 2013. Retrieved 1 August 2013.
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- "Robots Battle in the Buckeye State". NASA. Retrieved 25 August 2011.
- "Breakaway Game Revealed at 2010 FRC Kickoff". FIRST. Retrieved 25 August 2011.
- "2011 FIRST® Championship". FIRST. Retrieved 6 June 2011.
- Harris, Mark (10 June 2010). "Brain scan: Mr Segway's difficult path". The Economist. Retrieved 2010-06-11.
- FIRST History | USFIRST.org
- 1992 FIRST Robotics final match - YouTube
- 1993 US FIRST Robotics "Rug Rage" match - YouTube
- 2012 FRC Kit of Parts Home | USFIRST.org
- NI roboRIO Details and Specifications
- Davies, Chris. "Rebound Rumble pushes robotics development with will.i.am and Bill Clinton". SlashGear. Retrieved 7 April 2012.
- 1996 FIRST Championships ESPN part1 - YouTube
- Microsoft Word - Section 1 - 2002 Manual - final.doc
- Microsoft Word - 4-The Game rev C.doc
- Best robots at Nationals - Page 4 - Chief Delphi
- pic: 1396 One-Day Robot - Chief Delphi
- pic: 1396 One-Day Robot - Page 3 - Chief Delphi
- USFIRST.org[dead link]
- Whats going on in my area?
- "Season Calendar and Important Deadlines for 2010-2011". FIRST. Retrieved 11 November 2011.
- FRC Regional Events
- UWaterloo First Robotics Competition 2010 | Do you have your Nakama?
- "St. Louis to host FIRST Robotics Competition". St. Louis Business Journal. 7 October 2009. Retrieved 11 November 2010.
- Miller, Bill. "The List & a New Region". Retrieved 24 September 2011.
- "2013 Supplemental Rules for Michigan FRC Teams". www.firstinmichigan.org. FIRST in Michigan. Retrieved 20 April 2013.
- "2013 Supplemental Rules for Mid-Atlantic Robotics FRC Teams". www.midatlanticrobotics.com. Mid-Atlantic Robotics. Retrieved 20 April 2013.
- Championship Eligibility Criteria | USFIRST.org
- "What Is Gearing Up?". KETC. Retrieved 2 October 2011.
- "Behind the Scenes With Dean Kamen on Dean of Invention". Popular Mechanics. Retrieved 6 June 2011.
- FRC Team3132 - The Thunder Down Under
- I, Wombot (2011) - IMDb
- I, Wombot
- Newsroom - Macquarie University
- McCarthy, Erin (28 April 2012). "Director Michael Bacall on FIRST Robotics Movie The New Cool". Popular Mechanics. Retrieved 30 April 2012.
- "Don't Fail Me: Education in America airs Sunday". CNN. Retrieved 6 June 2011.
- "THE BLACK EYED PEAS FRONT MAN WILL.I.AM AND INVENTOR/FIRST® FOUNDER DEAN KAMEN TEAM UP FOR A GROUNDBREAKING, ONE-HOUR SPECIAL CELEBRATING EDUCATION, ROBOTICS AND SCIENCE, SUNDAY, AUGUST 14 ON ABC". FIRST. Retrieved 25 August 2011.
- Canessa, Kevin (November 28, 2013). "Martin County student robotics team kick off Macy's Thanksgiving Parade". WPTV. Retrieved November 28, 2013.
- "Robots Come FIRST® at Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade®". FIRST. Retrieved November 28, 2013.
- Walton, Marsha (14 April 2007). "Robotic trio wins 'Super Bowl of Smarts'". CNN
- Ante, Spencer E. (2007). "Building Robots Builds Scientists". Businessweek
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Related or associated organizations and sponsors
Articles of interest
- Michigan robotics champs off to world finals in St. Louis - Detroit Free Press
- FIRST Robotics Competition’s 2011 Regional Season Is Worth a Look - PCWorld