Actuator Overview

This section discusses the control of motors and pneumatics through speed controllers, solenoids and pneumatics, and their interface with C++ and Java WPILib.

Speed controllers

A speed controller is responsible on your robot for making motors move. For brushed DC motors such as CIMs or 775s, the speed controller regulates the voltage that the motor receives, much like a light bulb. For brushless speed controllers such as the Spark MAX, the controller regulates the power delivered to each “phase” of the motor.


Connecting a BRUSHLESS motor controller straight to power, such as to a conventional brushed motor controller, will destroy the motor!


Pneumatics are a quick and easy way to make something that’s in one state or another using compressed air. For information on operating pneumatics, see Operating pneumatic cylinders.