MagicBot Framework

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.


You should use the MagicRobot class as your base robot class. You’ll note that it’s similar to IterativeRobot:

import magicbot
import wpilib

class MyRobot(magicbot.MagicRobot):

    def createObjects(self):
        '''Create motors and stuff here'''

    def teleopInit(self):
        '''Called when teleop starts; optional'''

    def teleopPeriodic(self):
        '''Called on each iteration of the control loop'''

if __name__ == '__main__':

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
  • An execute method

Control 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 mode.

Example method names: raise_arm, lower_arm, shoot

Informational methods

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

The 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.

Component creation

Components are instantiated by the MagicRobot class. You can tell the MagicRobot class to create magic components by defining the variable names and types in your MyRobot object.

from components import Elevator, Forklift

class MyRobot(MagicRobot):

    elevator = Elevator
    forklift = Forklift

    def teleopPeriodic(self):

        # self.elevator is now an instance of Elevator

Variable injection

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 attribute that matches an attribute in your Robot class, Magicbot automatically notices this and replaces the attribute in your component with the actual 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 namedtuple are readonly):

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...

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 createObjects function
  • You cannot access injected variables from component constructors. If you need to do this, define a setup method 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 teleopPeriodic method. This is really the only place that you should generally interact with a Joystick or NetworkTables variable that directly triggers an action to happen.

To ensure that a single portion of robot code cannot bring down your entire robot program during a competition, MagicRobot provides an onException 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:

    if self.joystick.getTrigger():

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():


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.

Autonomous mode

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
  • Add an empty file called ‘’ to that folder

Any .py files that you add to the autonomous package will automatically be loaded at robot startup.

See also

AutonomousModeSelector on how to define an autonomous mode.

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 tunable property. 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 assigned to.

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:

Example Components

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.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'''

    def prepare_to_fire(self):
        '''First state -- waits until shooter is ready before going to the
           next action in the sequence'''

        if self.shooter.is_ready():

    @timed_state(duration=1, must_finish=True)
    def firing(self):
        '''Fires the ball'''

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_finish argument 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 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():

API Reference