Back in 2018, V5 was publicly revealed to the VEX community. Along with this reveal, we got the “V5 System Architecture” page on vexrobotics.com, which listed many of the features of the new system. Unfortunately over the years, many of these features have still yet to come to fruition. Here is a list of such features that I could find, as they were listed on that page in June of 2018:
V5 Smart Motor
The microcontroller runs its own PID with velocity control, position control, torque control, feedforward gain, and motion planning similar to industrial robots. PID is internally calculated at a 10 millisecond rate. The motor’s PID values are pre-tuned by VEX for excellent performance across all operating conditions. Users can adjust these values to tune the motor’s performance for their specific application.
This is not currently possible in the official programming solutions. Even if the APIs to do so were accessible (as they are in some 3rd party programming systems), it is not feasible to actually tune these constants, because VEX has not provided the initial value of the constants used. This was one of the parts of V5 that I was very excited about; very low latency, fast PID loops on a per motor basis that could be tuned to fit exactly the situation they were being used in. Unfortunately over the past 3 years, this functionality has not materialized.
V5 Vision Sensor
Future capabilities we plan to add:
- Advanced line following with line location, angle, and intersections
- Generic color sensors
- Light level meter
- Motion detection
This functionality has never been added to the V5 Vision Sensor. The last 3 were arguably added with the V5 optical sensor, however the first point has never appeared in any VEX product.
Choose Multi-Player to allow multiple teams to practice matches, with one player hosting a match and up to three other teams joining the match. Once connected, all four teams have synchronized Enable, Disable, Autonomous, and Driver Control signals. Users no longer need to have a competition switch and a stopwatch.
This functionality has never been enabled. The icon that presumably corresponds to this is actually present in the controller’s menu, however it is impossible to actually select it.
An app for iOS and Android is in development that allows remote viewing and control of the V5 Brain’s screen. This greatly extends the usefulness of dashboards by allowing viewing while testing and practicing. The app will additionally turn your phone into a sensor, allowing your robot access to time and date, GPS location, gyro and accelerometers, and the ability to Tweet.
None of this functionality has ever materialized in any way, shape, or form.
Additional programmable widgets allow users to show gauges that can be digital, analog, and numerical.
This functionality has never been added (to my knowledge).
Download and Debug at 200 kbps
Download has been stated to be in the realm of 48Kbps.
Anecdotally, debug printing seems to be significantly slower than that.
The battery has enough power to run ten V5 motors at full power continuously.
The V5 Battery can output 20 amps continuously, providing enough power to run 10 motors at peak power output.
While this may be true in theory (and at 11 watts each, the battery should easily be able to handle 20 of them stalling at once as that would be only 220w vs the battery’s rated 256w output), this has never been true in practice. V5 motors have their power limited when more than 8 are connected, and thus it is not possible to run 10 motors at full power.
V5 3-Wire Ports
Future enhancements to the 3-Wire ports are planned to allow I2C and UART communication to non-VEX sensors as well.
This would be amazing (especially for VEXU teams), but unfortunately this functionality has never appeared.
Individually, the absence of one of these features might not be a big deal. However, when the absences are combined, the picture becomes troubling. My team, along with many other teams in the VEX community, purchased V5 in the first half of 2018 with these promises of features in mind. Promises such as that V5 would support using a phone as an advanced sensor, that it would remove the need for competition switches at scrimmages, and that it would in the future be able to directly connect to I2C and UART devices greatly increased the perceived value of the system when it came time to decide if we should purchase it or not. However, in reality, many of these promised features never existed. Some of them have been removed from the most recent version of the V5 System Architecture page. However, this does nothing to address the fact that V5 was sold to us in 2018 with the promises of this functionality included. In the short term, there were more pressing concerns, such as the actual shipping date of V5, that overshadowed these (and many other) functionality shortfalls. That is why, at this point, I think it makes sense to call attention to these promises that VEX made to us in 2018.
My goal with this post is to draw attention to these promised features, with the aim that VEX will implement them. I truly believe that many of them would greatly enhance the value of the V5 platform for both competitors and hobbyists.