How does the vex robotics driver system work?

I am new to vex robotics and I am wondering how the driver system works for the competitive matches where you compete against other robots. I know there are 3 drivers but I don’t know what each driver really does.

Only one person has the joystick and is able to control the robot.¹ However, the tournament rules allow 3 people per team to stand by the field for each match. These people are called the “Drive Team.”

One member of the drive team is the driver, another is usually the “drive coach” who guides the driver. For instance, in Turning Point, the drive coach could point out balls near the robot to the driver to help the driver gather the balls quicker. The third person on the team usually calls out the time (such as saying “15 seconds remaining” toward the end of the match) and often talks to the other alliance’s drive team to coordinate the robots’ movement.

The scenario I outlined above is the “typical” way that teams will organize their drive teams. However, there is no rule requiring that teams do this - some teams may choose to have only 2 people on the drive team, or to have multiple drive coaches, or any number of other roles.

¹ There are a few teams that use a “partner joystick” which allows two people to control the robot at a time, but this is rare.


I looked that the Tower Takeover release video and I saw that you could introduce cubes to the robot at any time. Is it one of the drivers that place the cubes on the field?

Yes, this would be one of the drivers, probably a person that the team agreed on beforehand.

Do drivers switch roles during the match or do they stay the same? I know in Vex IQ the drivers pass the controller to the other driver but I’m not sure if that is the case with Vex.

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In VRC, the driver stays the same for the entire match. There is no swapping controllers or anything of the sort.

Also, how does the partner joystick work? Is it basically two people controlling different parts of the robot at the same time?

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Yup. There are two controllers paired together with a cable. In v4 this meant only the master controller was actually transmitting but I’m not sure if this is the case for v5. What is controlled is entirely based on your program. If you wanted to then you could have one mechanism controlled by both controllers but it wouldn’t really work out that well.


Drivers can switch during the match, tho it is really frowned upon. I know this because in my state someone did and there was a big deal about it, but there was no rule found against it.

If it’s allowed per the official rules (which it is), then it’s allowed. Period. It doesn’t matter that it is “frowned upon” in a specific region.

Teams are perfectly allowed to pass their controller(s) among their drive team during a match.


Yeah, that’s basically it. You program whatever you want either joystick to control and it will do it. Usually they have 1 person doing the drive and lift and the other using the other mechanisms. Or they might have all the control on the main joystick and have the partner joystick with pre-programmed movements.

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