High school and middle school students impressed judges with their game-playing robots at Tongji University stadium in Shanghai last month. As part of the FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) competition, student-built robots competed in the Cascade Effect game, which is like a really complicated game of bot basketball: The creations zoomed around a 12-foot square field and threw white balls into rolling goals to score points.
For the last nine years, Qualcomm has sponsored teams in international FIRST competitions. Its goal is to inspire students to pursue education and careers in STEM fields—and to demonstrate just how fun and creative engineering can be. In the science-minded FTC competitions, kids problem-solve and work in teams to design and build robots from kits that include sensors, motor controllers, and manuals.
Thirty-four teams from a range of Chinese schools competed in the Shanghai event. The winning team earned a place in the global championships in St. Louis, Missouri, taking place April 22-25. All participants will have an opportunity to secure scholarships.
In addition to sponsoring FTC teams, Qualcomm is also giving students an opportunity to work with new technologies. The company just announced that Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 processors will power the FTC control system in 2016, offering students the chance to experience high processing speeds and advanced sensors. With the platform, students will be able to communicate reliably one-on-one with the robots via Android devices, and to gain experience with the popular programming language Java.
“In the foreseeable future, robotics will permeate our everyday lives,” said inventor Dean Kamen, who founded FIRST in 1989. “Our FIRST students are ahead of the game, as they are already adept users of three emerging technologies: sensors, 3D printing, and open-source software. Now that we are adding this mobile element to the already-robust FIRST technology equation—just watch what these kids will be capable of doing.”
The new control system will be demoed at the FIRST Championship this April and will be the new platform for the 2015/2016 FIRST Tech Challenge season. Qualcomm hopes to inspire more students to explore STEM with this new addition to the FTC toolbox. The addition of Snapdragon-powered mobile technologies puts the power and knowledge to innovate into kids’ hands.
Stay tuned for more on-the-ground coverage of the FIRST Robotics Championship.