VEX Robotics Design System

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A robot that was made using the VEX system to compete in the 2007 FTC competition

The VEX Robotics Design System is a robotic kit intended to introduce students as well as adults to the world of robotics. The VEX Robotics Design System is centered on the VEX Clawbot Kit which is sold in the Dual Control Starter Kit (sold for USD $499.99).[1] This kit comes with four electric motors, 4 wheels, gears, and structural parts.[2] Additional sensors (ultrasonic, line tracking, optical shaft encoders, bumper switches, limit switches, light sensors integrated motor encoder modules, gyroscopes, accelerometers, and potentiometers),[3] wheels (regular, omni-directional, and "mecanum"),[4] tank treads,[5] motors,[6] servos,[7] gears,[8] chain and sprocket sets,[9] partner joysticks,[10] programming software (easyC, ROBOTC, MPLab),[11] extra metal,[12] pneumatics,[13] and rechargeable battery power packs[14] can all be purchased separately.

This award winning platform was developed by Innovation First International. [15] This product was originally available for purchase in RadioShack stores, and also on the web. On April 17, 2006 Innovation First announced their acquisition of the VEX Robotics brand name and trademark registrations from RadioShack Corporation.[16] RadioShack stores are no longer selling VEX kits.

VEX is not an initialism or acronym. It is just a word chosen as the brand name.

VEX Robotics Competition (VRC)[edit]

The VEX Robotics Competition (VRC) is a robotics competition utilizing the VEX robotics platform.[17] Robots designed with the Vex platform can be very simple or very complicated. VEX Robotics, Inc. contracts the non-profit Robotics Education and Competition Foundation to organize and operate the worldwide VEX Robotics Competition.[18] Teams build and program a robot to complete a task revealed at the previous years world championships. This means the 2013/2014 game was revealed at the 2012/2013 World Championships. VRC is played on a 12'x12' square field. Two alliances – one "red" and one "blue" – composed of two teams each, compete in each match which consists of a fifteen-second autonomous period followed by one minute and forty-five seconds of driver-controlled play. There are two red starting tiles and two blue starting tiles on each field. The robots from the blue team start on the blue tiles, and the red team robots start on the red tiles. The object of the game is to attain a higher score than your opponent alliance by accruing points according to the game elements laid out in that year's rules. In some years, additional points could be earned by positioning the robot back on its color starting tile at the end of the match. In Elevation, Clean Sweep, Round Up, and Sack Attack, a bonus was awarded to the alliance that has the most total points at the end of the Autonomous Period. In Gateway though, there was no autonomous bonus. In the 2013-2014 season, Toss Up, there is an autonomous bonus. There is not, however, a parking bonus at the end of the match. In its place, there is a unique "Hanging" bonus, where robots try to elevate themselves using a bar at the end of the match.

The cost is currently $(US)100 for the first team from an organization, and $(US)50 for each additional team.

The winning alliance (and runners up at events with 51 or more teams) at each local competition qualify for the VEX World Championship. The winners of the Robot Skills and Programming Skills Challenges also qualify for the VEX World Championship. In addition, the winner of the "Excellence Award" at each tournament with at least 18 teams qualifies for the Vex World Championship.[19]

Season Game Main Game Elements Location of World Championship Date
2007–2008 Bridge Battle[20] Tennis balls Northridge, California May 1–3, 2008
2008–2009 Elevation[21] Cubes Dallas, Texas April 30 – May 2, 2009
2009–2010 Clean Sweep[22] Small soccer balls, medium footballs, and large white basketballs Dallas, Texas April 22–24, 2010
2010–2011 Round Up[23] Toruses Lake Buena Vista, Florida April 14–16, 2011
2011–2012 Gateway[24] Balls and Barrels Anaheim, CA April 18–21, 2012
2012-2013 Sack Attack[25] Beanbags Anaheim, CA April 17–20, 2013
2013-2014 Toss Up[26] Bucky Balls and Large Balls Anaheim, CA April 23–26, 2014
2014-2015 Skyrise[27] Hollow Cubes and Posts Louisville, KY April 15–18, 2015
2015-2016 Nothing But Net[28] Small balls Louisville, KY


Teams compete at qualifying competitions, hoping to win certain awards to qualify for State, National or World level competitions. This can be done in many ways. Three teams per competition will win the "Tournament Champions" award which qualifies them for a state or regional competition. One team per competition wins the "Excellence Award" which qualifies them for a state/regional competition and a National competition. At a competition of a certain size, three other teams will win the "Tournament Champion" award, which qualifies them for state or regional competitions. At a competition, teams compete in several qualification matches. In these matches, teams are randomly placed in an alliance with one other team, and are placed against another random alliance. These alliances change every match. The teams are then placed in ranks based on how many win points and strength of schedule points they have. The top eight teams get to pick two other teams to be in an alliance with them in the Elimination matches. The three teams in the alliance alternate between matches. Elimination rounds are best two out of three. The elimination matches are decided by a bracket. The top alliance goes against the last, second goes against the seventh, third against sixth, and fourth against fifth. This means that the elimination rounds are harder for teams on the eighth alliance than on second or third.

Full List of VRC Awards[edit]

Robot Performance Awards[29]

  • Excellence Award: Top All Around Team (Robot Performance & Judged)
  • Tournament Champions: Each Team on Winning Alliance
  • Tournament Finalists: Each Team on Finalist Alliance
  • Robot Skills Champion: Top Robot Skills Challenge Team
  • Robot Skills 2nd Place: Runner-Up Robot Skills Challenge Team
  • Programming Skills Champion: Top Programming Skills Challenge Team
  • Programming Skills 2nd Place: Runner-Up Programming Skill Challenge Team

Judged Awards[30]

  • Amaze Award: Team with an amazing, well rounded and top performing robot
  • Build Award: Team with a well-crafted robot
  • Community Award: Team with extraordinary community involvement and awareness
  • Create Award: Robot with a creative engineering solution
  • Design Award: Team with a professional design approach
  • Educate Award: Team that integrates robotics into their classroom STEM activity
  • Energy Award: Team with extraordinary enthusiasm
  • Future Award: FUTURE Foundation Robotics Construction Challenge
  • Innovate Award: Team that has the most “Innovative” single design feature on their robot
  • Inspire Award: Team that has earned respect from their peers for design
  • Judges’ Award: Judges’ recognition
  • Promote Award: Team with the best video submission (online design challenge)
  • Sportsmanship Award: Team that is extremely courteous and most enthusiastic
  • Service Award: Team that goes above and beyond to assist other teams at an event
  • Teamwork Award: Group with multiple teams competing and communicating together
  • Think Award: Team with an impressive and effective autonomous programming

Individual Awards[31]

  • Mentor of the Year Award: Recognized Volunteer Team Mentor
  • Partner of the Year Award: Recognized Event Sponsor/Supporter
  • Teacher of the Year Award: Recognized Team Teacher
  • Volunteer of the Year Award: Recognized Event Volunteer

Programming Software[edit]

EasyC: EasyC is a drag and drop programming language for beginners. It uses pre-made blocks to help users get started with programming and it allows users to program faster than using a standard coding language.

RobotC: A C code interface with slightly more capability than EasyC, it is also harder to learn.



PROS: A lightweight and fast alternative operating system for the VEX Cortex Microcontroller. It features multitasking, low-level control, and Wiring compatible functions to harness the full power of the Cortex.



Model kit maker Revell Monogram and VEX robot supplier Innovation First announced more details of their new consumer robot kit February 13, 2007.

The VEXplorer robot kit is a direct descendant of the VEX robot kit that is the basis for student robot design competitions. It was designed and marketed to "bring robotics creation outside the classroom taking the consumer robotics category to new heights."

VEXplorer includes all the parts, motors and wheels to make a remote controlled rolling robot with a webcam and a claw arm strong enough to pick up a full aluminum can.

VEXplorer is the product of a partnership between the two companies that was announced last year. Revell will handle the marketing while Innovation First will provide the engineering and technical design.

The VEXplorer kit has 2 add-on kits: a wrist joint to give arms more flexibility, and a tank tread set similar in design to those sold as a standard VEX add-on.

As of 2009 the Vexplorer has been discontinued; however, accessories are "still available."[32]

VEX does not allow any VEXplorer electronics to be used in any official VEX Competitions.[33]

VEX PRO[edit]

VEX IQ[edit]

VEX IQ is competitive robotics platformed aimed towards elementary and early middle school children. Compared to the VEX Robotics Competition designed for middle school and high school students, the field is smaller and the robots are generally smaller and are mostly made of plastic parts. Competitions are held at hosting elementary, middle, or high schools around the country. Every year, many teams are invited to the VEX IQ World Championship hosted alongside the VEX Robotics Competition World Championship. As of early 2015, the current game, Highrise, involves stacking 3 inch colored cubes to earn as many points as possible before the time runs out.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Robot Starter Kits". VEX Robotics. Retrieved December 27, 2013. 
  2. ^ "Clawbot Kit". VEX Robotics. Retrieved December 27, 2013. 
  3. ^ "Sensors - Robot Accessories". VEX EDR Shop. VEX. Retrieved 14 January 2015. 
  4. ^ "Motion - Robot Accessories". VEX EDR Shop. VEX. Retrieved 14 January 2015. 
  5. ^ "Tank Tread Kit". VEX Robotics. Retrieved December 27, 2013. 
  6. ^ "2-Wire Motor 393". VEX Robotics. Retrieved December 27, 2013. 
  7. ^ "3-Wire Servo". VEX Robotics. Retrieved December 27, 2013. 
  8. ^ "Gear Kit". VEX Robotics. Retrieved December 27, 2013. 
  9. ^ "Sprocket & Chain Kit". VEX Robotics. Retrieved December 27, 2013. 
  10. ^ "Partner Joystick". VEX Robotics. Retrieved December 27, 2013. 
  11. ^ "Programming Software". VEX Robotics. Retrieved December 27, 2013. 
  12. ^ "Structure Accessories". VEX Robotics. Retrieved December 27, 2013. 
  13. ^ "Pneumatics Kit 2 - Double Acting Cylinders". VEX Robotics. Retrieved December 27, 2013. 
  14. ^ "Power Accessories". VEX Robotics. Retrieved December 27, 2013. 
  15. ^ "About Innovation First International". IFI. Retrieved December 27, 2013. 
  16. ^
  17. ^ Site can be found here
  18. ^ "REC Foundation Partners with VEX Robotics, Inc. to Manage VEX Robotics Competitions". Retrieved July 22, 2011. 
  19. ^
  20. ^ "Bridge Battle – VEX Wiki". December 10, 2009. Retrieved October 18, 2011. 
  21. ^ "Elevation – VEX Wiki". December 10, 2009. Retrieved October 18, 2011. 
  22. ^ "Clean Sweep – VEX Wiki". April 20, 2010. Retrieved October 18, 2011. 
  23. ^ "Round Up – VEX Wiki". February 24, 2011. Retrieved October 18, 2011. 
  24. ^ "Gateway – VEX Wiki". Retrieved October 18, 2011. 
  25. ^ "Sack Attack - VEX Wiki". Retrieved May 25, 2012. 
  26. ^ "Toss Up - VEX Wiki". Retrieved April 21, 2013. 
  27. ^ "Skyrise - VEX Wiki". Retrieved May 15, 2014. 
  28. ^ "2015-2016 VEX Robotics Competition - Nothing But Net". Retrieved April 24, 2015. 
  29. ^ "Vex Toss Up Appendix D: Awards" (PDF). Retrieved 28 December 2013. 
  30. ^ "Vex Toss Up Appendix D: Awards" (PDF). Retrieved 28 December 2013. 
  31. ^ "Vex Toss Up Appendix D: Awards" (PDF). Retrieved 28 December 2013. 
  32. ^ "VEXplorer". January 6, 2010. Retrieved March 4, 2012. 
  33. ^ "VEX Gateway Inspection Checklist" (PDF). June 6, 2011. Retrieved March 4, 2012. 

External links[edit]