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Programming is an integral part of building a robot. Fabrication is necessary to have something to work with; but, without the brains, the robot is impotent. This is where programming comes in. A program is simply a set of instructions to the computer (the Robot Controller in this case). The computer then responds, based on these instructions. The response might be effecting an actuator, sending power to a motor, or anything else the programmer desires.

For the FIRST Robotics Competition, programming is done using PIC C, and is downloaded to the RC. For information regarding programming resources, see Resources for C programming , Programming the Robot Controller, and How-to articles on programming. The RC can also be programmed in assembly, or the C code can have assembly in it. This generally isn't done unless speed is really important, and the need outweighs the costs in code maintenance.

Note that beginning with Stack Attack in 2003, FRC games have included an autonomous mode -- a period of time, so far 15 seconds at the beginning of the match, under which the robot must act without user input. This is a major challenge to programming the robot, and can be as complicated as a large network of sensors with many lines of code ... or as simple as a trial-and-error dead reckoning solution.

See also: Default code, Control system, Electronics and circuitry, MPLAB

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