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JavaOne 2014 – Day 4 – FIRST Robotics

FIRST is an initiative mainly related to getting kids in contact with programming. Four leagues based on age categories are served with lego and parts in various complexity depending on age.

There is also a First competition. For this competition they get a set of parts and build from these parts a robot playing a sort of game. Custom parts are also allowed. In the presented game example (last year) the robots had to interact with a ball. In various ways points could be scored. The time that these robots have to be operational is not long approximately 3 minutes. To make it interesting , there is an autonomous part (10-15 seconds) and a part that has to be controlled from a distance during such a robot game.

In previous years, the kids had to use a Texas instruments board with Java ME, CLDC 1.1 profile. From this year, the new roboRIO is used, which comes with Java SE 8. Not only is this advantageous because of extra language constructs and better performance, but also because of tooling like Visual VM that was not available in the previous configuration.

All and all, it is a nice way to get kids active with technology and will give kids that are into this sort of thing a nice time.