The New Vex IQ Pneumatics

What are your thoughts on the new Vex IQ pneumatics?

In two words: completely unnecessary.

Now, it’s going to be expected, to have a ‘high-functioning’ robot to use them. The kids needs to learn correct construction techniques and design principles. This just adds another layer of difficulty/complexity that isn’t needed. If they are ready for that, move them into VRC.


I actually think that they are going to be incredibly usefull. Motor shares, transmissions, and many more mechanical principles are going to be possible now.


This seems like quite a large statement to be made. Am I apart of a “High Functioning” Team, yes, however I mentor and help quite a large bit in this community. I hate to see that just because a new part is added, you see that this will drastically affects what is needed to construct a high functioning robot. I see this like when the gen 2 kits first came out, so let us look at it from that perspective.

The gen 2 kits have a list of new/improved features over its old counterpart, and when it first came out, most teams were rushing to it. However if you look now some teams have moved back. Why? Because some teams find designing around it to be best for them. Saying if teams want the color screen, that they should move to VRC seems like a far statement, we are kicking out students that still need to improve, that still need to learn some foundational skills in order to thrive in the new environment.

The statement that if students want pneumatics they should move onto VRC is completely reckless from a safety standpoint, as well as from a budget standpoint as well. VIQRC is a place of learning, a place to learn all the possible tools you can, so when you move on to VRC you understand basic mechanical principles, and now you can integrate them on your: much heavier, more powerful, and metal robot. From a FTC head programmer, I love the fact that VIQRC has a VS code extension, this puts them into a much similar IDE to what they will be using, and they will be more comfortable. So when they have to program big metal robots, we are much safer.

If we can teach kids how to safely use pneumatics in a plastic environment, I would much rather do it, and this includes rather low PSI. Rather than higher PSI in a metal environment. With potential sharp edges.

At some point here we, as students, as educators, as mentors and coaches, have to realize that if a low level of learning leads to exceptional robots, only a small amount of students will go beyond that low level knowledge. They get stuck in VRC, or any other robotics program, and what they should have learned in VIQRC, now has to be taught in VRC, taking away from the experience, and in the end, lowering what could have been learned. In my mind, that educator, coach, or mentor. Has failed their job for that student.



For this season in particular, I see a couple of major effects.

First, yes it does allow for increased complexity and number of designs and mechanisms on a robot.

Unfortunately, I foresee teams falling into two groups: those who have pneumatics and those who don’t. In VRC, if you don’t have pneumatics, it is by definition more difficult to be competitive and compete at the highest level. I see this being the case or IQ as well.

VEX does say these will ship in late summer. Given previous popular product releases, late summer will likely be over-optimistic, and in reality I could see these being shipped largely during winter.

However, the bigger issue I see is that may teams likely won’t receive theirs until states or worlds because (I’m assuming) many many teams have pre-ordered these, and VEX won’t be able to fulfill all of these pre-orders in the first shipment.

Since I see pneumatics as a crucial part of what makes a VEX IQ team competitive at the highest level, I think there will be a sizeable competitiveness gap.

Anyway, this is my two cents, and overall I do see pneumatics as a positive addition to IQ, but initially I think it will cause some major problems.


I’m not going to think much until the manual comes out on Monday.

It’s possible that there will be a motor penalty or some other restriction. If they don’t give a penalty at all, then the higher-end teams will have a huge benefit over the other teams, but does that really change anything about the game as it currently runs?

It’s pretty odd how different regions work. In North Florida, almost all the 8th graders are still doing IQ. At that level, adding in pneumatics would be a solid move. In many other regions, most 7th graders are doing VRC.

In my county with about 7 middle schools, only my school will even offer VRC next year. (And we haven’t done it for a couple of years.) There were over 200 MSIQ teams last year and only 11 MSVRC teams.

I think a motor penalty would be great in IQ and VRC, even if it’s just one for each. In VRC, you could even do a 5.5W penalty… But at least it’s something. Having no motor penalty does give a strong “have-have not” feeling for both programs.


There is a HUGE difference between the IQ and V5 pneumatics kits at this point: The IQ kit includes a compressor, the V5 kit does not. This means that IQ has (virtually) unlimited actuations, while the V5 kit has a very finite energy budget that has to last the entire match.

I think an interesting approach in V5/VRC would be to assess a 5.5W (1 small motor) penalty per pneumatic RESERVOIR used. This would allow more pneumatic energy storage, but at the cost of motors…