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Next Level

VEX IQ Challenge 2018/19 - Next Level

The VEX IQ Challenge is a STEM competition for KS2 and KS3 students to test their robot design and programming skills. In the VEX IQ Challenge, students build a robot to solve an engineering challenge that is presented in the form of a game.

Next Level field layout

The current challenge is called Next Level which is played on a 1.2 x 2.4m rectangular field configured as seen to the right. Two robots compete in the Teamwork Challenge as an alliance in 60 second long teamwork matches, working collaboratively to score points. Teams also compete in the Robot Skills Challenge where one robot takes the field to score as many points as possible. These matches consist of Driver 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 and stacking coloured Hubs in Building Zones, removing Bonus Hubs from the Hanging Structure, and by Parking or Hanging on the Hanging Bar.

Check out the Next Level video which explains the basics:

Full rules and details can be downloaded from here.

Experts Opinion

Rapid's Chris Calver gives his first thoughts on the VEX IQ Next Level Game:

"At first glance, Next Level has a much simpler field layout than Ring Master and far fewer scoring objects. These orange objects called Hubs are pretty big! At launch, there is conflict between the video and the game manual as to exactly what that size is, but I believe they are nearly 130mm in diameter and just over 100mm high and weighing about 85g which is the same as a Hexball from Crossover a couple of years ago.

Teams score points by creating stacks of Hubs in the Building Zones and you get more points for Hubs that are High Scored, which means stacked on top of Low Scored Hubs. What’s interesting is that the hubs don’t lock together when stacked and the Building Zones are right at the edge of the field which means teams are going to need to take care when stacking them up – any Hubs that fall out of the field won’t be returned so it is vital to keep them in play. The other thing to remember about Hubs is that teams can only carry one off the ground at any one time, but you can move as many as you like, providing all the rest remain in contact with the field. This should spawn some interesting designs!

As is often the case with IQ Challenge games, there is a bonus available at the end of the match. This year it comes in the form of parking and hanging, the latter is something we haven’t seen since Add It Up back in the 2013-14 season. Teams can earn a point for parking, 2 points for low hanging and 4 points for high hanging. To be high hanging, you must be able to slide a Hub under the robot, so around 100mm off the ground.

As always, VEX have made the competition accessible to new teams by making instructions available for a new robot called Flex which can be made from any of the starter kits and is an excellent basis for your first robot. Download the build instructions here.

Good luck!"

Get the FREE VIQC Hub App – All your VEX IQ Challenge rules in one place!

The FREE VIQC Hub app for Android and iOS replaces all previous VEX IQ Challenge scoring apps and is available to download. The VIQC Hub gives you access to rules and regulations at your fingertips as well as having a utility for quickly adding up scores. Visit the Google Play Store or iTunes Store to download now.

VEX IQ Hub App VEX IQ Hub App VEX IQ Hub App

What do you need to take part

Parts are reusable year after year so teams that have taken part before will have almost everything they need. If you need spares or additional parts, these are available from Rapid.

New teams will need:

Competition Season Timeline

Each year, the new challenge rules will be available from May. Teams can immediately start work on designing, building and testing their robots. Registration is also open at this point, although you can register at any point in the season. When you register, you will be sent a sample of each game object to help you with your testing.

Regional competitions take place throughout the UK in the autumn and winter with the UK National Championships being held in March. The top UK teams will then go on to compete against the best in the world at the World Championships in April.

By taking part in the VEX Robotics Competition, students will learn to:

  • apply STEM principles to real world designs
  • work to rules and regulations
  • use sensors to aid the autonomy of a robot
  • program using graphical or text based languages
  • work as a team and build relationships with teams from other schools
  • document their work
Season Timeline

Regional Competitions

Find your nearest competition by visiting to check.

  1. Make a checklist of things to take to the competition and ensure you have everything ready in advance. The minimum you should be taking to a competition is:
    • Your robot with 2.4GHz or Smart radio module installed
    • Joystick with 2.4GHz or Smart radio module installed
    • Tether cable (looks like network cable) in case you need to re-tether your joystick
    • USB download cable
    • Robot battery and charger - bring a spare if you have one
    • Laptop for programming
    • Team ID plates with you ID number on
    • Spare parts - you never know what spares you'll need!
    • Drinks and snacks
  2. Arrive as early as possible for the event - check the schedule on and see what time you can arrive and when check-in opens.
  3. Your robot will need to be inspected by officials before you can compete to ensure it complies with the rules. Make sure you have read the rules thoroughly and that your robot is compliant before you arrive at the competition. Go to inspection as soon as possible so that you can make changes if your robot does not pass. The staff at the event will be more than happy to help make sure your robot is compliant.
  4. Assign someone in your team to keep an eye on the match schedule - make sure you are at the Field when it is your turn to compete.
  5. Charge your robot batteries regularly and make sure you charge your joystick from time to time
  6. Learn from the more experienced teams at the event. Watch how they organise themselves and learn from their robot deigns and game strategies. Experienced teams are always willing to help the novices and our staff will be on hand to help as well.
  7. Above all, don't panic and have fun!

Don't forget, you can attend as many events as you like over the course of the season. The more you attend, the better you will get!

Building your first robot

Before building your first ever competition robot, we suggest that you build the Clawbot that is included in all VEX IQ Starter Kits. This will allow you familiarise yourself with most of the major construction techniques used. It also gives you a nice platform to play around with some of the sensors and do a bit of programming before you head on to build your first competition robot. You might even find that for your first year, you use the Clawbot as the basis for your design.

First steps with programming

When you first build the Clawbot, you will notice that it has a program built in by default called "Driver Control" that allows you to drive the robot around with the remote control. Now you can create your own program to change the controls and do some simple autonomous programs - this will prepare you for writing your first program for your competition robot.

Before writing your first program, make sure that the Firmware is up-to-date on the Brain, Joystick and all motors and sensors. To learn how to upgrade the firmware, follow the instructions included in your kit or click here for a guide.

Our getting started guide is for using graphical programming in ROBOTC. If you are using any of the other programming languages and require help, contact

Building your first robot