FIRST Robotics Vocabulary list

The teams that work cooperatively together during a competitive round, usually three in FRC and two in FTC. Alliance members’ robots are marked with colors, usually red and blue. During seeding rounds the teams are selected by the officials. For the elimination rounds, alliances are specially selected (see alliance selection).
Alliance Selection
This is when the final alliances are chosen for the elimination rounds of a competition. The team ranked in 1st place will be the 1st alliance leader. They choose any other team to partner them. That team may either accept or decline. This team keeps choosing until one accepts. Then the selection goes to the next highest ranking, unallied team who becomes the leader of the 2nd alliance. This process is repeated until there are 8 alliances of two teams each. Next the eighth alliance teams will invite a third team and the process repeats going up the ranks until all eight alliances are filled.
Animation is the process of creating the illusion of movement through a rapidly viewed series of images, each showing a slight change in position of the object. Animation images can be 2D or 3D (two or three dimensional)or in other words looking ‘flat’ or ’rounded’. A simple animation is the ‘flip book’ where each page has a slightly altered drawing and when thumbed through quickly it looks like the drawings move. Videos use the same technique, just with more sophisticated methods of creating the images.
Autodesk is a company that makes and donates computer programs to FIRST teams. Autodesk Inventor is used to create 3D visuals of robot parts for the design phase, Autodesk 3dsMax is used to make safety animations for competition.
Autonomous mode
This is the first fifteen seconds of a round when the robot must perform “hands free” using programs that are within the control system.
Branding is all the things that make people recognize your team. This includes things like logos, posters, t-shirts, buttons, team yells, mascots, flags, robot nicknames, etc.
The Build
This is the six week period for designing, making, programming, testing, training, and everything else teams need to do to prepare for ship date. It is very high-pressure. Team members and mentors meet nearly daily during this time for several hours each day in order to meet the deadline.
Chairman’s Award
This is the top honor at any competition. It is given to the team that best represents ‘Gracious Professionalism’ and displays the qualities that FIRST seeks as an example for all teams. (see Partners/FIRST section for requirements)
This is the competition problem that FIRST designs for the teams to design a robot to solve. The challenge changes every year. Challenges are usually announced at a Kick-off event which starts “the build”.
This can be two things. First it is the main adult mentor, usually connected to the host organization. Second, it is a competition job on the FRC and FTC drive teams. The coach watches the game play and advises the driver and operator on strategy options.
CompactRIO or cRIO
This is the FRC control system introduced in the 2009 season. It is built by National Instruments and is programmable using Labview or C.
This is a word coined by Dean Kamen to describe his vision of teams working together, so all succeed. It is a combination of ‘cooperation’ and ‘competition’. There is also a coopertition award.
This is a competition job on the drive team. A team member uses radio controls to move the robot around the playing field during competition heats.
Elimination rounds
These are the rounds that determine who wins the competition and which alliance will go on to national competition.
FIRST (“For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is an organization that promotes Robotics competitions and teams. They have several different leagues. Their logo is the interlinked triangle, circle and square seen at every competition. (see Partners/FIRST section for more info)
FIRSTbase is a website that Autodesk sponsors for FIRST teams to get training, downloads and information about Autodesk software and competitions. Team members need to create a log-in then be listed as part of the team by the coach.
FLL stands for FIRST Lego League, a FIRST robotics league that builds and competes using Lego Robotics kits. There is also an FLL Jr. division for younger kids which builds motorized displays rather than robots.
This animation term indicates ONE image in an animation series. When frames are shown at a rate of 24 frames per second or higher, it creates the illusion
Frame rate
This animation term is about the speed at which frames are shown. A rate of 24 frames per second or higher creates the illusion of movement. The higher the frame rate the smoother the motion.
FRC stands for FIRST Robotics Competition, a FIRST robotics league that builds and competes with the large 5-foot robots.
FTC stands FIRST Tech Competition, a FIRST robotics league that builds and competes with the small 18-inch robots.
Gracious Professionalism
This is a motto of FIRST Robotics. All teams are expected to show behaviors consistent with being both gracious and professional during a competition. Such as being helpful to other teams, good sportsmanship, cooperative with volunteers/officials, etc.
Key frame
A key frame is an important starting or stopping frame in an animation. For instance, if you make a hand waving, the key frames might be where the hand is farthest left and farthest right. Once the key frames are designated, many programs can generate the frames needed between those two points. That process is called ‘tweening’.
This is a presentation made by FIRST robotics to announce that year’s challenge. All teams are invited to a kick-off near their home location, or can look up the same presentation on the internet.
This is graphics-based programming software for programming the robot’s control system. One of the sponsors of FIRST allows teams the use of the program at no-charge and also provides trainings throughout the year.
This animation term means the various levels in an animation frame, it may include a one or more backgrounds, one or more character or object models, and overlays. The order of layers determines what is or isn’t covered by each object, for instance, backgrounds are usually a bottom layer, character or object models are ‘above’ that layer so they cover up portions of the background, while an overlay may be ‘above’ a model and cover it up.
Marine Advanced Technology Education Center is an organization whose goal is to help prepare students for a job in an ocean-related occupation. They sponsor and organize ROV competitions.
A mentor is an adult volunteer who helps the team. They may have special knowledge of engineering, programming, advertising, web page building, animation, administration, etc. that they share.
Modeling is the process of creating 3D images in a computer program. It can apply to both CAD and animation. Modeling usually starts with geometric shapes that are sized and linked together.
Nationals or International
This is the top competition for all FIRST leagues held once each year. All Regional/State winners are invited to attend. With the increase in international teams, the name may be changed to FIRST International Competition.
This is a competition job for the drive team. A team member uses radio controls to control the robot’s task parts during competition heats. This may be using lifters,dumpers or grippers or other parts that achieve the game challenge.
The Pit
This is the area where the teams work on their robots between rounds. For FLL and FTC this is usually a single table. For FRC they usually consist of rows of small ten by ten foot areas. This is where tools and supplies are kept along with some displays of awards or other team information. Many FRC teams decorate their pit with lights, banners, buttons, garland, and more which can help earn the imagery award.
A system of using air pressure to create mechanical motion. A pump is used to store compressed air in a tank. Then using tubing and switches the air is moved to a part called an actuator that allows the air to move a mechanical part. Pneumatics are sometimes used on the robot’s task parts.
This is a local competition, usually held near a major city. Depending on the league, regional winners may go to a state competition or directly to the (inter)national competition.
This animation term means the process where the various parts of a computer animation frame sequence can be put together into a final blended video sequence. The animation program takes the data from the layers and settings for background, lighting, camera angles, models, motions, etc. and puts them into a single image as a final product. This makes the file sizes smaller, but also means you can’t change that file anymore (you can go back to your un-rendered files if you saved them).
This is a new team or new team member that is competing for the first year.
The period of time when two alliances compete at a competition. Rounds are of two kinds: Seeding and Elimination. Rounds have two parts. the first part is the Autonomous mode (see autonomous mode). The Second part is when the robots are controlled by the drive team (see driver, operator, coach, specialist).
ROV is an acronym for Remotely Operated Vehicle. This means that the operators of the vehicle are not with the vehicle, and usually control it by watching sensors and cameras. ROVs may be controlled by radio or may be tethered by wire to the controls. The Mars landers and many underwater exploration vehicles are ROVs.
Safety Award
This is an honor earned by your team showing they follow all safety rules during competition and by doing some kind of a presentation about safety to other teams. Each team member is given tokens to give out to other teams when they see good safety practices being demonstrated.
Safety Officer
This is a team member designated to help train team members in safety and to watch during the build and at competitions to be sure the team follows correct safety procedures.
A script is the spoken text for a video or animation. It can include directions for actions or sound effects.
Seeding rounds
These are the rounds that determine your overall ranking going into the Final rounds of the competition. The top 8 teams are guaranteed a place in the final rounds.
Sound track
Sounds in a video or animation are recorded on one or more sound tracks, which can be used in the program similarly to the image layers. Sound tracks may have background music, spoken parts or sound effects (like clapping, a dog bark or lazer noises).
This is a competition job on the drive team. A Specialist does a specific task during the competition, that is related to the game play. This job usually changes each year as it is specific to the challenge. Most often it requires handling game pieces, such as balls.
A sponsor is an organization, individual or company that provides money and/or materials for the team.
State competitions. A level up from Regionals for FLL and FTC. Winners of State competitions may be invited to (inter)National competition. Most FRC competitions end at the Regional level, but as numbers of teams grow, this level may be added between Regional and National levels.
An acronym meaning “Student Team Information Management System”. This is where student team members enter their contact and registration information with FIRST each year.
A storyboard is like a graphical pre-write for a video or animation, it looks a bit like a cartoon strip. It tends to show the important portions and transitions.
This animation term applies to the process of adding color, lighting reflections and surface textures to models and backgrounds.
An acronym meaning “Team Information Management System”. This is where teams enter their contact and registration information with FIRST each year.
An acronym meaning “Volunteer Information Management System”. This is where Volunteers enter their contact and registration information with FIRST each year and choose to assist at competitions.
Virtual Camera
This animation term is about the process in 3D animation, where you can indicate which angle of view you are seeing the animation models and backgrounds from. Like a real camera you can use the virtual camera to zoom, pan, fade, etc.