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 around the Vex Starter Kit (which retails for about USD $300). This kit comes with the Vex "brain" (a microcontroller), a hobby-grade remote control, various sensors (2 bumper sensor and 2 limiter switches), three electric motors and a servo, wheels (4 small, 2 medium all purpose, and 2 large high traction tires), gears, and structural parts. Additional sensors (ultrasonic, line tracking, optical shaft encoder, bumper switches, limit switches, and light sensors), wheels (small and large omni-directional wheels, small, medium, and large regulars), tank treads, motors, servos, gears (regular and advanced), chain and sprocket sets, extra transmitter and receivers, programming kit (easy C) extra metal and rechargeable battery power packs,can all be purchased separately.

This award winning platform was developed as part of a partnership between Innovation First, Inc. and IFIrobotics.

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. RadioShack stores are no longer selling Vex kits.

FIRST Tech Challenge

The FIRST Tech Challenge, formerly the FIRST Vex Challenge, is a mid-level robotics competition announced by FIRST on March 22, 2005. The FIRST Tech Challenge, according to FIRST, was designed to be a more accessible and affordable option for schools. FIRST has also said that the FTC program was created for those of an intermediate skill level. FIRST Tech Challenge robots are approximately one-third the scale of their FRC counterparts. The FTC competition is meant to provide a transition for students from the FLL competition to the FRC competition.

The 2005 FIRST season featured a demonstration of the FIRST Vex Challenge using a 1/3 linear scale mock-up of the 2004 FRC Competition, FIRST Frenzy: Raising the Bar. For their 2005-2006 Pilot Season, FVC teams played the Half-Pipe Hustle game using racquet balls and ramps.

For the 2006 FVC Season (2007 FIRST Season), the FIRST Vex Challenge teams played the Hangin'-A-Round challenge using softballs, rotating platforms, a hanging bar, and a larger 'Atlas' ball which is significantly larger than most Vex robots and harder to manipulate. Competitions were held around the United States, Canada, and Mexico.

The 2007 season featured the Quad Quandary challenge, which was played using PVC rings and moveable goalposts.

FTC no longer features Vex robots, but instead uses the Lego NXT microcontroller in conjunction with a new hardware kit named Tetrix.



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 descendent 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.

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