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VEX Robotics is a robotics program for elementary through university students, and a subset of Innovation First International. The VEX Robotics competitions and programs are managed by the Robotics Education and Competition Foundation (REC). In April 2018, VEX Robotics Competition was named the largest robotics competition in the world by Guinness World Records.
There are three leagues of VEX robotics competitions meant for different age groups and skill levels:
- VEX V5 (previously VEX EDR) is for middle and high school students. VEX V5 Robotics teams have an opportunity to compete annually in the VEX Robotics Competition (VRC)
- VEX IQ is for elementary and middle school students. VEX IQ robotics teams have an opportunity to compete annually in the VEX IQ Challenge (VIQC) robotics competition.
- VEX AI is an advanced robotics program for high school and university students. The pilot program registration is scheduled to open to university students in fall of 2020. VEX AI robotics teams will have an opportunity to compete in the VEX AI Competition (VAIC).
In each of the three leagues, students are given a new challenge annually, and must design, build, program, and drive a robot to complete the challenge as best as they can. The robotics teams that consistently display exceptional mastery in all of these areas will eventually progress to the VEX Robotics World Championship.
The description and rules for the season's competition are released during the world championship of the previous season. Starting in 2021, the VEX Robotics World Championship will be held in Dallas, Texas each year in mid April.
This section needs additional citations for verification. (May 2021)
VEX V5 is a STEM learning system designed by VEX Robotics and the REC Foundation to help middle and students develop problem-solving and computational thinking skills. It was introduced at the VEX Robotics World Championship in April of 2019 as a replacement for a previous system called VEX EDR. The program utilizes the VEX V5 Construction and Control System as a standardized platform for hardware, firmware, and software compatibility. Robotics teams and clubs can use the VEX V5 system to build robots to compete in the annual VEX Robotics Competition.
Construction and Control System
The VEX V5 Construction and Control System is a metal-based robotics platform with machinable, bolt-together pieces that can be used to construct custom robotic mechanisms. The robot is controlled by a programmable processor known as the VEX V5 Brain. The Brain is equipped with a color LCD touchscreen, 21 hardware ports, an SD card port, a battery port, 8 legacy sensor ports, and a micro-USB programming port. Usage with a VEX V5 Radio enables wireless driving and wireless programming of the brain via the VEX V5 Controller. The controller allows wireless user input to the robot brain, and two controllers can be daisy-chained if necessary. Each controller is equipped with two hardware ports, a micro-USB port, two 2-axis joysticks, a monochrome LCD display, and twelve buttons. The controller's LCD can be written to wirelessly from the robot, providing users with configurable feedback from the robot brain. The VEX V5 Motors connect to the brain via the hardware ports, and are equipped with an internal optical shaft encoder to provide feedback on the rotational status of the motor. The motor's speed is programmable, but may also be altered by exchanging the internal gear cartridge with one of three cartridges of different gear ratios.
VEXcode is a Scratch-based coding environment designed by VEX Robotics for programming VEX Robotics hardware, such as the VEX V5 Brain. The block-style interface makes programming simple for elementary through high- students. VEXcode is consistent across VEX 123, GO, IQ and V5, and can be used to program the devices from each. VEXcode allows the block programs to be viewed as equivalent C++ or programs, to help more advanced students transition from blocks to text. This also allows easy interconversion between text-based and block-based programming. In addition, a more advanced coding studio called VEXcode Pro introduces students to a professional programming studio where they can use VEX C++ to directly program their robots, allowing more flexibility and opening up more advanced methods of programming the VEX robots.
VEX Robotics Competition
|Current season, competition or edition:|
VEX Robotics Competition: Tipping Point
|No. of teams||Total Registered: 20,000+|
50+ countries 
VRC HS: 2616J : "Jersey Devils"
VRC HS: 7870E: "The Usual Suspects"
VRC MS: 4082A: "Rocket Robots"
VRC MS: 3324A: "Supernovas A
VEXU: BLRS: "Purdue SIGBots"
|TV partner(s)||Livestream.com (2013–present)|
CBS Sports (2017)
|Official website||VEX Robotics Competition|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to VEX Robotics Competition.|
VEX Robotics Competition (VRC) is a robotics competition for registered middle and high school teams which utilizes the VEX V5 Construction and Control System. In this competition, teams design, build, and program robots to compete at tournaments. At tournaments, teams participate in qualifying matches where two randomly chosen alliances of two teams each compete for the highest team ranking. Before the Elimination Rounds, the top-ranking teams choose their permanent alliance partners, starting with the highest ranked team, and continuing until the alliance capacity for the tournament is reached. The new alliances then compete in an elimination bracket, and the tournament champions, alongside other award winners, qualify, for their regional culminating event. .
The current challenge is VEX Robotics Competition: Tipping Point. 
Middle and high school students have the same game and rules. The most general and basic rules for the VEX Robotics Competition are as follows, but each year may have exceptions and/or additional constraints.
- Each robot is partnered with another robot in a pair called an "alliance". In any given match, each alliance competes against one other alliance. One team is designated as the red alliance, and the other as the blue alliance.
- No robot may exceed the dimensions of an 18-inch cube until the match has begun.
- No robot may contain hardware, software, material, or content that is not distributed by or explicitly allowed by VEX Robotics.
- The playing field consists of a 12 foot by 12 foot square of foam tiles bordered by a wall of metal-framed polycarbonate dividers. Anything outside of these border walls is considered as off of the playing field. The various props associated with that season's competition are arranged in a defined and reproducible manner before the start of each mach.
- At the start of the match is a 15-second 'autonomous' period, where all four robots navigate the field based on pre-programmed instructions, without live driver input.
- After the autonomous period has ended, the 'driver control' period begins. This stage of the match consists of one minute and forty-five seconds of manual control of the robot using one or two handheld controllers, utilized by the respective number of 'drivers'. Note: During a match, up to three competitors per robot may be on their alliance's side of the field, outside of the field border, in an area designated as their alliance's 'alliance station'. The field's two alliance stations are more commonly known as 'the driver pits', or simply 'the pits'.
- The object of the match is to attain a higher score, i.e. more points, than the opposing alliance. The method by which the alliances attain these points varies significantly with each season.
- Throughout the match, the blue alliance is not allowed to enter the red alliance's 'protected zone' of the field, and vice versa. The designated areas of the field are often different for each season. However, during the autonomous period, the protected zone normally consists of the half of the field where the alliance starts, whereas the driver control period occasionally does not even define a protected zone, as was the case for VRC Tipping Point. Any robot that repeatedly, extensively, and/or intentionally enters the opposing alliance's protected zone will be given a warning, be forced to forfeit the match, and/or be disqualified from the tournament.
- Intentionally removing game objects from the field will result in a warning, match forfeit and/or, if necessary, disqualification.
- Intentionally and repeatedly damaging any of the robots involved, either during the match or otherwise, will result in immediate disqualification.
Current game: Tipping Point
VRC Tipping Point is played with 72 rings, 4 alliance mobile goals (mogos) and 3 neutral mogos. The 3 neutral goals start in the middle of the field, and the alliance goals start in their respective home zones. Each alliance has a balancing platform which can be utilized in the endgame period (last 30 seconds of a match) to score points. These are located in their corresponding home zone. Each ring scored in the base of a goal is worth 1 point. A ring scored in the post of an alliance goal or the lower branch of a neutral goal is worth 3 points. A ring scored in the highest branches of a neutral goal is worth 10 points. At the end of the game (the last 30 seconds), robots can complete specific actions to gain more points. Each neutral/corresponding alliance goal in an alliance’s home zone is worth 20 points. Each robot elevated on their alliance’s balancing platform (with the platform balanced) is worth 30 points, and each elevated goal (same balancing rules apply) is worth 40 points. New to this year is the “neutral zone”, where robots can attempt to gain control of a neutral goal at their own risk. 
The alliance that scores more points in the autonomous period is awarded a twenty-point "autonomous bonus", added to the final score at the end of the match. To win the coveted autonomous win point, 1 ring must be scored in each alliance goal and the auton win point line must be cleared. This bonus can be earned by both alliances, regardless of who wins the autonomous bonus.
Previous VEX Robotics Competition games have included, from 2019–20 backwards, Tower Takeover, Turning Point, In The Zone, Starstruck, Nothing But Net, Skyrise, Toss Up, Sack Attack, Gateway, Round Up, Clean Sweep, Elevation, and Bridge Battle.
VEX IQ Challenge
|Current season, competition or edition:|
VEX IQ Challenege Rise Above
|No. of teams||Total Registered: 20,000+
50+ countries 
:VEXIQ ES: 88299A: "Science museum 1"
VEXIQ ES: 46033D: "Phoenix3"
VEXIQ MS: 99900J: "Dr X Academy"
VEXIQ MS: 22250B: "The Pack "
|TV partner(s)||ESPN2 (2016)|
CBS Sports (2017) YouTube (2020)
|Official website||VEX IQ Challenge|
The VEX IQ Challenge, presented by the Robotics Education & Competition Foundation, provides elementary and middle school students with exciting, open-ended robotics and research project challenges that enhance their science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) skills through hands-on, student-centered learning. A VEX IQ Robotics set is used, with plastic pieces that snap together using pegs, and it is extremely easy to construct a robot. The students use a graphical software to program the robot. There are two parts to the contests: Robot Skills, which is a single robot trying to score as many points as possible, and the Teamwork Challenge, where two robots attempt to work together to complete the same task.
Current game: Pitching In
VEX IQ Challenge Pitching In is played on a six foot by eight foot rectangular field. Two robots compete in the teamwork challenge as an alliance in one-minute long teamwork matches, working collaboratively to score points. Teams also compete in the robot skills challenge where one robot attempts to score as many points as possible. These matches consist of driving skills matches, which will be entirely driver controlled, and programming skills matches, which will be autonomous with limited human interaction.
The object of the game is to attain the highest score by scoring balls in either a low scoring goal or a high scoring goal in the center of the field. Additional points are scored by clearing the starting corrals of all balls and by parking via hanging on either a low or high bar on either side of the field.
|Ball Scored in Low Goal||2 points|
|Ball Scored in high goal||6 points|
|Starting Corral Cleared of all Balls||5 points|
|Low Hanging Robot at end of Match||6 points|
|High Hanging Robot at end of Match||10 points|
2020–21: Rise Above
|Base riser||1 point|
|Stacked riser||1 point|
|Completed row||3 points|
|Completed stack||30 points|
VEX IQ Challenge Rise Above is played on a six foot by eight foot rectangular field. Two robots compete in the teamwork challenge as an alliance in one-minute long teamwork matches, working collaboratively to score points. Teams also compete in the robot skills challenge where one robot attempts to score as many points as possible. These matches consist of driving skills matches, which will be entirely driver controlled, and programming skills matches, which will be autonomous with limited human interaction.
The object of the game is to attain the highest score by scoring risers in the goal. There are a total of 27 risers, nine for each color (orange, purple and teal).
2019–20: Squared Away
|Each ball scored in a cube||1 point|
|Each ball scored on a cube||2 points|
|Each blue and red cube placed in their respective corner goals||10 points|
|Each green cube placed on a platform||20 points|
VEX IQ Challenge Squared Away is played on a four-foot by eight-foot rectangular field. The scoring objects in are three-inch diameter balls and seven-inch cubes. There are a total of 35 balls and seven cubes on the field. The object of the game is to score as many points as possible with your alliance partner in one of two ways: by scoring balls in or on cubes, and by moving cubes to their respective scoring zones.
2018–19: Next Level
|Each Low Scored Hub||1 point|
|Each High Scored Hub||2 points|
|Each Bonus Hub removed from the Hanging Structure||1 point|
|Each Low Scored Bonus Hub||2 points|
|Each High Scored Bonus Hub||4 points|
|Each robot Parked underneath Hanging Structure||1 point|
|Each Low Hanging Robot||2 points|
|Each High Hanging Robot||4 points|
VEX IQ Challenge Next Level is played on a four-foot by eight-foot rectangular field. The object of the game is to attain the highest score by scoring and stacking colored hubs in building zones, removing bonus hubs from the hanging structure, and by parking or hanging on the hanging bar. There are two building zones in the corners of the field, and in the middle there is one hanging structure. There are total of fifteen hubs, plus two bonus hubs available to be scored in the building zones and one parking zone in the middle of the field.
|Each Emptied Starting Peg||5 points|
|Each Ring scored in the low scoring goal||1 points|
|Each Ring scored on a Scoring Post||5 points|
|Each Ring scored on a Uniform Scoring Post (All the same color)||10 points|
|Bonus Tray Emptied||20 points|
VEX IQ Challenge Ringmaster is played on a four-foot by eight-foot rectangular field. The object of the game is to attain the highest score by scoring colored rings on the floor goal and on posts, by having uniform posts, by emptying starting pegs, and by releasing the bonus tray. There are a total of 28 hexballs available as scoring objects in the game. There are two scoring zones, sixteen low goals, twelve elevated goals, and one bridge on the field.
|Each Hexball Scored in the Scoring Zone||1 point|
|Each Hexball scored in the Low Goal||3 points|
|Each Hexball Scored in the Elevated Goal||5 points|
|Having One Robot Parked on the Bridge||5 points|
|Having Two Robots Parked on the Bridge||15 points|
|Having All Robots Parked on a Balanced Bridge||25 points|
VEX IQ Challenge Crossover is played on a four-foot by eight-foot rectangular field. The object of the game is to attain the highest score by scoring hexballs in their colored scoring zone and goals, and by parking and balancing robots on the bridge. There are a total of 28 hexballs available as scoring objects in the game. There are two scoring zones, sixteen low goals, twelve elevated goals, and one bridge on the field.
2015–16: Bank Shot
|Each Ball Scored in the Scoring Zone||1 point|
|Each Emptied Cutout||1 point|
|Each Ball Scored in the Goal||3 points|
|Having One Robot Parked on the Ramp||10 points|
|Having Two Robots Parked on the Ramp||25 points|
VEX IQ Challenge Bank Shot is played on a four-foot by eight-foot rectangular field. The object of the game is to attain the highest score by emptying cutouts, scoring balls into the scoring zone and goals, and by parking robots on the ramp. There are a total of 44 balls available as scoring objects in the game. There is one scoring zone, one goal, one ramp, and sixteen cutouts on the field.
|Each Cube Scored in the Scoring Zone||A point value equal to the Highrise Height of the same color as the
Cube (i.e., if a team builds a Highrise of 3 red Scoring Cubes on the
Highrise Base, a red cube in the Scoring Zone is worth 3 points.)
VEX IQ Challenge Highrise is played on a four-foot by eight-foot rectangular field. The object of the game is to attain the highest possible score by scoring cubes in the scoring zone and by building highrises of cubes of the same color on the highrise bases. There are a total of 36 cubes, twelve of each of three colors, available as scoring objects in the game. There is one scoring zone and three highrise bases on the field. Each robot begins a match on one of two starting positions and must occupy a space of less than 13 by 19 by 15 inches.
2013–14: Add It Up
|A Small BuckyBall Scored in the Floor Goal||1 point|
|A Small BuckyBall Scored in the Low Goal||2 points|
|A Small BuckyBall Scored in the High Goal||3 points|
|A Large BuckyBall Scored in the Floor Goal||3 points|
|A Large BuckyBall Scored in the Low Goal||5 points|
|A Scoring Ring that is Filled||5 points|
|A Large BuckyBall Scored in the High Goal||8 points|
|A Robot that is Hanging at the end of the match||8 points|
VEX IQ Challenge Add It Up is played on a four-foot by eight-foot rectangular field. The object of the game is to attain the highest possible alliance score by scoring your small and large BuckyBalls into the floor, low and high goals, filling scoring rings, and having robots hang from hanging bar at the end of the match. There are a total of 36 small BuckyBalls and four large BuckyBalls available as scoring objects in the game. There are four floor goals, two low goals, two high goals, and four scoring rings, as well as a hanging bar.
|A Ball Scored in a Low Goal||1 alliance point|
|A Ball Scored in a High Goal||3 alliance points|
|A Ball Scored in a Scoring Ring||2 alliance points; 1 individual point|
|A Robot that is parked at the end of match||2 alliance points|
|A Second Robot parked at the end of match||3 alliance points|
VEX IQ Challenge Rings-N-Things was the Pilot Program for the VEX IQ Challenge robotics competition program, which launched in April 2012. The game is played on a four-foot by eight-foot field, surrounded by a 3.5 inch tall perimeter. There are four goals and eight rings into which teams can score 36 balls. The field is divided by the ramp.
The VEX U level competition is a robotics competition for college and university students that uses the VEX Robotics hardware and V5 electronics. The rules are nearly identical for this competition as for the VEX Robotics Competiton, but VEX U teams are allowed to take advantage of more customization and greater flexibility than other levels (teams are granted the ability to use 3D printers and use raw materials such as sheet metal and wood). Also, their robot creation is limited by the need to find effective costs and a restricted development environment in order to model a real-world situation. In addition, VEX U teams are required to create two different complementary robots, one big and one small, and program them to work together to defeat opponent teams.
The VEX U competition, although very similar to the VEX Robotics Competition, has some distinct rules. Rather than being limited to a robot size of an 18-inch cube, VEX U contestants had the freedom to use up to a 24-inch cube of space for their larger robot, and up to a 15-inch cube for their smaller robot (thus each team builds 2 robots, and competes against another team). The autonomous period of VEX U competitions is also longer, lasting forty-five seconds versus the fifteen for the VEX Robotics Competition. As a result, the driver control period is shortened to a period of seventy-five seconds, immediately after the autonomous period has been scored and the autonomous bonus has been awarded to the correct alliance, to keep matches at a length of two minutes. VEXU teams also have greater freedom when building their robots, such as the unlimited use of raw materials and 3D printers. This allows VEXU teams to have more customization on their robots, and construct mechanisms that cannot be created solely via the VEX Robotics hardware.
On April 25, 2020, VEX Robotics and the REC Foundation announced a new platform of competitions, the VEX AI Competition. The new platforms will use the VEX V5 Construction and Control System, and registration will be available to high school and college teams.
The competition is fully autonomous and will use an array of new sensors including the VEX Game Positioning System (VEX GPS); VEX AI microprocessor; VEX AI Vision Sensor with depth perception; VEX LINK, a wireless robot-to-robot communications interface; and the VEX Sensor Fusion Map, a new multi-sensor integration technology which uses sensory data from the robots to render the course in real-time 3D. Each team will build and program two robots. Teams will be able to 3D print and machine parts, use custom electronics, and utilize an unlimited quantity of motors.
The pilot program is scheduled to open for registration to university students in fall of 2020. After registration begins, any high school teams that wish to participate must apply for program admission. Unlike university participants, only those high school teams that show exceptional preparedness for this level of advanced competition will be allowed to compete. VEX AI robotics teams will have an opportunity to compete in the VEX AI Competition. Unlike VEX U, this competition will be completely separate from the VRC Competition
VEX Robotics World Championship
The VEX Robotics World Championship brings together qualifying teams from the two VEX Robotics programs: the VEX IQ Challenge, VEX Robotics Competition, with the VEX AI Competition bringing the number to three in 2022. The championship is an international celebration of the robotics community and a final tournament to crown the VEX World Champions in each league. The 2021–24 championships are scheduled to be held in Dallas, Texas.
A one-hour special version of the 2016 VEX Robotics World Championship aired on ESPN2 in June 2016. CBS aired a one-hour special version of the 2017 VEX Robotics World Championship on June 11.
The 2020 VEX Robotics World Championship was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. On March 30, 2020, VEX Robotics and the REC Foundation announced they would host the first ever VEX Robotics Virtual World Celebration on April 25, 2020. The event celebrated the accomplishments of all teams and revealed the 2020–21 VEX Robotics Competition and VEX IQ Challenge. During this event, VEX Robotics and the REC Foundation also hosted a Fantasy Robotics simulation for all levels in the VEX Robotics Program, using statistics from state and qualifying tournaments. On January 20th, 2021 the REC Foundation along with VEX Robotics anoucced that due to the COVID-19 pandemic the 2021 VEX World Championships would be modified to an online remote tournament and would also include a remote skills matches.Therefore also announcing that the event will have no in person attendance.
|California State University, Northridge||Northridge, California||2008|
|Dallas Convention Center||Dallas, Texas||2009–10|
|ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex||Kissimmee, Florida||2011|
|Anaheim Convention Center||Anaheim, California||2012–14|
|Kentucky Exposition Center and Freedom Hall||Louisville, Kentucky||2015–19|
|VEX Robotics Headquarters||Greenville, Texas||2020[a]|
|Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center||Dallas, Texas||2022–24 |
- Because the 2020 VEX Robotics World Championship was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a Virtual World Celebration event was held with no in-person attendees.
- Because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic the event was modified to a online remote tournament along with a skills only portion therefore it will not include an in person aspect.
Role in pedagogy
VEX Robotics competitions have been of interest to educators as a way of stimulating students' interest in hands-on learning, engineering, and computer programming. The Department of Engineering and Technology Education at Utah State University has created a Design Academy with a curriculum for teaching skills through participation in a VEX Robotics Competition. In addition, VEX Robotics provides two other programs aiming to introduce these skills at an early age in the classroom.
VEX 123 is a VEX Robotics program aimed to introduce basic turtle-style programming to young students in kindergarten through second grade. It uses a small round robot with a front, wheels and an audio speaker, (the '123 Robot') which is programmed to drive around a plastic course using either a handheld wireless programming module (the 'Coder') or a mobile device (not included) with Scratch-based programming software. The course is modular and can be built differently to present different programming challenges. VEX provides multiple pre-prepared STEM Labs that are designed for different classroom settings, such as language arts and mathematics. The VEX 123 STEM Labs are "designed to provoke STEM thinking and spark creative problem-solving ideas."
|Name||Grades||Category||No. of Labs||Time per Lab||Description|
|Meet Your Robot||K–2||Language Arts||2||40 min||Meet your 123 Robot through a story-based lab that introduces vocabulary, functions, and features of the 123 Robot.|
|Number Line||Math||2||40 min||Practice early addition skills using a number line, the 123 Robot, and manipulatives to represent numbers and number values.|
|Intro to Coding||Coding||2||40 min||Investigate coding and robot behaviors while using the Coder and VEX 123.|
|Coding Fundamentals||Coding||4||40 min||Practice early coding skills! Create a project using sequenced commands while learning to troubleshoot any problems.|
|Moving Through a City||Engineering||3||40 min||Use VEXcode 123 and the 123 Robot to complete challenges as you build and navigate bridges and cities!|
|Our World Around Us||Coming Soon||3||40 min||Explore the world around you by creating environments and investigating the weather!|
|Do You Hear That?||3||40 min||Code the 123 Robot to play sounds!|
|Operation Math Games||2||40 min||Practice coding concepts such as sequencing and conditionals by playing different math games!|
|Exploring Computer Science||4||40 min||Practice being a computer scientist by coding the 123 Robot using loops and conditionals!|
|Robot Storyteller||3||40 min||Investigate stories that you read and create with the 123 Robot!|
|Robot Writer||3||40 min||Use the 123 Robot to write letters and messages!|
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to VEX Robotics.|