MagicBot is an opinionated framework for creating Python robot programs for the FIRST Robotics Competition. It is envisioned to be an easier to use pythonic alternative to the Command framework, and has been used by championship caliber teams to power their robots.
While MagicBot will tend to be more useful for complex multi-module programs, it does remove some of the boilerplate associated with simple programs as well.
import magicbot import wpilib class MyRobot(magicbot.MagicRobot): def createObjects(self): '''Create motors and stuff here''' pass def teleopInit(self): '''Called when teleop starts; optional''' def teleopPeriodic(self): '''Called on each iteration of the control loop''' if __name__ == '__main__': wpilib.run(MyRobot)
A robot control program can be divided into several logical parts (think drivetrain, forklift, elevator, etc). We refer to these parts as “Components”.
When you design your robot code, you should define each of the components of your robot and order them in a hierarchy, with “low level” components at the bottom and “high level” components at the top.
- “Low level” components are those that directly interact with physical hardware: drivetrain, elevator, grabber
- “High level” components are those that only interact with other components: these are generally automatic behaviors or encapsulation of multiple low level components into an easier to use component
Generally speaking, components should never interact with operator controls such as joysticks. This allows the components to be used in autonomous mode and in teleoperated mode.
Components should have three types of methods (excluding internal methods):
- Control methods
- Informational methods
Think of these as ‘verb’ functions. In other words, calling one of these means that you want that particular thing to happen.
Control methods store information necessary to perform a desired action, but
do not actually execute the action. They are generally called either from
teleopPeriodic, another component’s control method, or from an autonomous
Example method names: raise_arm, lower_arm, shoot
These are basic methods that tell something about a component. They are typically called from control methods, but may be called from execute as well.
Example method names: is_arm_lowered, ready_to_shoot
execute method reads the data stored by the control methods, and then
sends data to output devices such as motors to execute the action. You should
not call the execute function as
execute is automatically called by
MagicRobot if you define it as a magic component.
Components are instantiated by the MagicRobot class. You can tell the
MagicRobot class to create magic components
by annotating the variable names and types in your MyRobot class.
from components import Elevator, Forklift class MyRobot(MagicRobot): elevator: Elevator forklift: Forklift def teleopPeriodic(self): # self.elevator is now an instance of Elevator
Note that the above uses variable annotations, introduced in Python 3.6. There is also an older syntax compatible with Python 3.5:
from components import Elevator, Forklift class MyRobot(MagicRobot): elevator = Elevator forklift = Forklift def teleopPeriodic(self): # self.elevator is an instance of Elevator
Note that using this assignment syntax to declare magic components is considered to be deprecated, and will be removed once Python 3.5 support is dropped. This should only be important to your team if you’re using Python 3.5 to develop your robot code.
To reduce boilerplate associated with passing components around, and to enhance autocomplete for PyDev, MagicRobot can inject variables defined in your robot class into other components, and autonomous modes. Check out this example:
class MyRobot(MagicRobot): elevator: Elevator def createObjects(self): self.elevator_motor = wpilib.Talon(2) class Elevator: elevator_motor: wpilib.Talon def execute(self): # self.elevator_motor is a reference to the Talon instance # created in MyRobot.createObjects
As you may be able to infer, by declaring in your
Elevator class an annotation
that matches an attribute in your Robot class, Magicbot automatically notices
this and adds an attribute in your component with the instance as
defined in your robot class.
Sometimes, it’s useful to use multiple instances of the same class. You can inject into unique instances by prefixing variable names with the component variable name:
class MyRobot(MagicRobot): front_swerve: SwerveModule back_swerve: SwerveModule def createObjects(self): # this is injected into the front_swerve instance of SwerveModule as 'motor' self.front_swerve_motor = wpilib.Talon(1) # this is injected into the back_swerve instance of SwerveModule as 'motor' self.back_swerve_motor = wpilib.Talon(2) class SwerveModule: motor: wpilib.Talon
One problem that sometimes comes up is your component may require a lot of
configuration parameters. Remember, anything can be injected: integers, numbers,
lists, tuples…. one suggestion for dealing with this problem is use a
namedtuple to store your variables (note that attributes of
from collections import namedtuple ShooterConfig = namedtuple("ShooterConfig", ['param1', 'param2', 'param3']) class MyRobot(MagicRobot): shooter: Shooter shooter_cfg = ShooterConfig(param1=1, param2=2, param3=3) class Shooter: cfg: ShooterConfig def execute(self): # you can access self.cfg.param1, self.cfg.param2, etc...
Like component creation, there is a Python 3.5 compatible syntax that uses assignment to declare variables to be injected:
class Elevator: motor = wpilib.Talon def execute(self): # self.motor is the Talon instance created in MyRobot.createObjects class MyRobot(MagicRobot): elevator = Elevator def createObjects(self): self.elevator_motor = wpilib.Talon(1)
This syntax is similarly deprecated and will be removed once Python 3.5 support is dropped.
Variable injection in magicbot is one of its most useful features, take advantage of it in creative ways!
Some limitations to notice:
- You cannot access components from the
- You cannot access injected variables from component constructors. If
you need to do this, define a
setupmethod for your component instead, and it will be called after variables have been injected.
Operator Control code¶
Code that controls components should go in the
This is really the only place that you should generally interact with a
Joystick or NetworkTables variable that directly triggers an action to
To ensure that a single portion of robot code cannot bring down your entire
robot program during a competition, MagicRobot provides an
method that will either swallow the exception and report it to the Driver
Station, or if not connected to the FMS will crash the robot so that you
can inspect the error:
try: if self.joystick.getTrigger(): self.component.doSomething() except: self.onException()
MagicRobot also provides a
consumeExceptions method that you can wrap your
code with using a
with statement instead:
with self.consumeExceptions(): if self.joystick.getTrigger(): self.component.doSomething()
Most of the time when you write code, you never want to create generic exception handlers, but you should try to catch specific exceptions. However, this is a special case and we actually do want to catch all exceptions.
MagicBot supports loading multiple autonomous modes from a python package called ‘autonomous’. To create this package, you must:
- Create a folder called ‘autonomous’ in the same directory as robot.py
- Add an empty file called ‘__init__.py’ to that folder
.py files that you add to the autonomous package will automatically be
loaded at robot startup. Each class that is in the python module will be
inspected, and added as an autonomous mode if it has a class attribute named
Autonomous mode objects must implement the following functions:
on_enable- Called when autonomous mode is initially enabled
on_disable- Called when autonomous mode is no longer active
on_iteration- Called for each iteration of the autonomous control loop
Your autonomous object may have the following attributes:
MODE_NAME- The name of the autonomous mode to display to users (required)
DISABLED- If True, don’t allow this mode to be selected
DEFAULT- If True, this is the default autonomous mode selected
If you build your autonomous mode using the
class, it makes it easier to build more expressive autonomous modes that
are easier to reason about.
Here’s an example autonomous mode that drives straight for 3 seconds.
from magicbot import AutonomousStateMachine, timed_state, state import wpilib # this is one of your components from components.drivetrain import DriveTrain class DriveForward(AutonomousStateMachine): MODE_NAME = 'Drive Forward' DEFAULT = True # Injected from the definition in robot.py drivetrain: DriveTrain @timed_state(duration=3, first=True) def drive_forward(self): self.drivetrain.move(-0.7, 0)
Note that the
AutonomousStateMachine object already defines default
on_iteration methods that do the right thing.
Dashboard & coprocessor communications¶
The simplest method to communicate with other programs external to your robot code (examples include dashboards and image processing code) is using NetworkTables. NetworkTables is a distributed keystore, or put more simply, it is similar to a python dictionary that is shared across multiple processes.
For more information about NetworkTables, see Using NetworkTables
Magicbot provides a simple way to interact with NetworkTables, using the
It provides a python property that has get/set functions that read and write
from NetworkTables. The NetworkTables key is automatically determined by the
name of your object instance and the name of the attribute that the tunable is
In the following example, this would create a NetworkTables variable called /components/mine/foo, and assign it a default value of 1.0:
class MyComponent: foo = tunable(default=1.0) ... class MyRobot: mine: MyComponent
To access the variable, in
MyComponent you can read or write
and it will read/write to NetworkTables.
For more information about creating custom dashboards, see the following:
Low level components¶
Low level components are those that directly interact with hardware. Generally, these should not be stateful but should express simple actions that cause the component to do whatever it is in a simple way, so when it doesn’t work you can bypass any automation and more easily test the component.
Here’s an example single-wheel shooter component:
class Shooter: shooter_motor: wpilib.Talon # speed is tunable via NetworkTables shoot_speed = tunable(1.0) def __init__(self): self.enabled = False def enable(self): '''Causes the shooter motor to spin''' self.enabled = True def is_ready(self): # in a real robot, you'd be using an encoder to determine if the # shooter were at the right speed.. return True def execute(self): '''This gets called at the end of the control loop''' if self.enabled: self.shooter_motor.set(self.shoot_speed) else: self.shooter_motor.set(0) self.enabled = False
Now, this is useful, but you’ll note that it’s not particularly smart. It just makes the component work. Which is great – very easy to debug. Let’s automate some stuff now.
High level components¶
High level components are those that control other components to automate one or more of them for automated behaviors. Consider the example of the Shooter component above – let’s say that you have some intake component that needs to feed a ball into the shooter when the shooter is ready. At that point, you’re ready for high level components! First, let’s just define what the low-level intake interface is:
- Has a function ‘feed_shooter’ which will send the ball to the shooter
Let’s automate these two using a state machine helper:
from magicbot import StateMachine, state, timed_state class ShooterControl(StateMachine): shooter: Shooter intake: Intake def fire(self): '''This function is called from teleop or autonomous to cause the shooter to fire''' self.engage() @state(first=True) def prepare_to_fire(self): '''First state -- waits until shooter is ready before going to the next action in the sequence''' self.shooter.enable() if self.shooter.is_ready(): self.next_state_now('firing') @timed_state(duration=1, must_finish=True) def firing(self): '''Fires the ball''' self.shooter.enable() self.intake.feed_shooter()
There’s a few special things to point out here:
There are two steps in this state machine: ‘prepare_to_fire’ and ‘firing’. The first step is ‘prepare_to_fire’, and it only transitions into ‘firing’ if the shooter is ready.
When you want the state machine to start executing, you call the ‘engage’ method. Of course, it’s nice to have a semantically useful name, so we defined a function called ‘fire’ which just calls the ‘engage’ function for us.
True to magicbot philosophy, the state machine will only execute if the ‘engage’ function is continuously called. So if you call engage, then prepare_to_fire will execute. But if you neglect to call engage again, then no states will execute.
There is an exception to this rule! Once you start firing, if the intake stops then the ball will get stuck, so we must continue even if engage doesn’t occur. To tell the state machine about this, we pass the
must_finishargument to @timed_state which will continue executing the state machine step until the duration has expired.
Now obviously this is a very simple example, but you can extend the sequence of events that happens as much as you want. It allows you to specify arbitrarily complex sets of steps to happen, and the resulting code is really easy to understand.
Using these components¶
Here’s one way that you might put them together in your robot.py file:
class MyRobot(magicbot.MagicRobot): # High level components go first shooter_control: ShooterControl # Low level components come last intake: Intake shooter: Shooter ... def teleopPeriodic(self): if self.joystick.getTrigger(): self.shooter_control.fire()