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Jonathan Erickson

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ROBOTC: A Programming Environment for Robotics

February 26, 2008

Does robotics need or require a special-purpose development environment? Apparently the folks at Carnegie Mellon's Robotics Academy think so. Which is why they developed ROBOTC, a programming environment optimized for educational robots.

ROBOTC works with LEGO Mindstorms RCX and NXT, as well as with the Innovation First VEX and FRC controllers. These are the dominant controllers used to teach robotics in today’s classrooms and are also used in a growing number of robot competitions, such as FIRST.

The full-featured environment comes with a C compiler and code templates, a predictive text editor, and interactive debugger. Other features include statistical functions and unlimited undos.
The PC-based debugger works with the robot in wireless mode without slowing the execution of the program being debugged.

The environment lets you quickly interface new peripherals, such as keypads and displays, using accessory prototyping board, and experiment with concurrent thread operation, scheduling algorithms, and the like. You can also analyze, test, and revise wireless networking and cooperation between multiple robots

A free 30-day trial version is available. Both single-user and classroom licenses are available. A version of ROBOTC for use with Qwerk robot controllers is expected later this year. The Qwerk controller was developed jointly by the CREATE Lab in Carnegie Mellon’s Robotics Institute and by Charmed Labs and can be used to build a wide variety of custom robots.

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