Whether we’re discussing mechanical engineering, computer science, or electronics, robotics is a central and common topic.
As such, robotics require a programming language that is versatile, efficient, and easy to use. C++ and Python are two of the most popular programming languages used in robotics, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. In this article, we will compare both languages and determine which is better suited for robotics, specifically in education.
1. Performance, compatibility, community
C++ is a high-performance, compiled language that is often used in systems programming and robotics. It is a powerful language that allows programmers to write efficient code with full control over hardware. C++ is particularly useful in robotics because it allows direct access to hardware, making it possible to write low-level code for sensors, actuators, and other components. This makes it an ideal choice for building complex robotic systems.
On the other hand, Python is a high-level, interpreted language that is known for its simplicity and ease of use. It is often used in machine learning and artificial intelligence, and its syntax is designed to be easy to read and write. Python is particularly useful in robotics because it allows for rapid prototyping, making it easy to test new ideas and algorithms. It also has a large community of users who contribute libraries and tools that can be used in robotics projects.
More details about Python on our dedicated article. You also may be interested in our PyNiryo (our Python package) documentation.
2. Tl;dr: in a nutshell, which language will fit future engineers best?
When it comes to education, both languages have their pros and cons. C++ can be more difficult to learn because it is a low-level language that requires knowledge of computer architecture and memory management. This makes it less accessible to beginners who may not have a background in programming. However, for students who are serious about robotics and want to build complex systems, learning C++ is essential.
Python, on the other hand, is an easier language to learn because it has a simpler syntax and requires less knowledge of computer architecture. This makes it more accessible to beginners who are just starting out in robotics. Python is also a popular language in the field of data science, making it useful for students who are interested in machine learning and artificial intelligence.
3. Development speed: a matter of compilation and debugging
In terms of development speed, Python is generally faster because it is an interpreted language, which means that code can be executed immediately without the need for compilation. This makes it easier to debug and test code, which is important in robotics where errors can be costly.
C++, on the other hand, requires a longer development time because it is a compiled language, which means that code must be compiled before it can be executed. However, once compiled, C++ code can be much faster than Python.
A conciliatory final word
Both C++ and Python have their strengths and weaknesses when it comes to robotics education. C++ is a powerful language that allows for direct access to hardware, making it ideal for building complex robotic systems.
However, it can be more difficult to learn and requires more development time. Python, on the other hand, is easier to learn, faster to develop, and has a large community of users and libraries that can be used in robotics projects.
Ultimately, the choice between the two languages will depend on the needs and goals of the individual student or educator. No matter what your choice will end up being, using this programming language with an educational collaborative robot like Ned2 is more than wise!