Using the VEX IQ Gyro Sensor

A Gyro is commonly used for navigation. By tracking how fast and which way a robot is turning, it can determine the direction your robot is facing.

The following article will cover:

  • Description of the Gyro Sensor
  • How the Gyro Sensor Works
  • Common Uses of the Gyro Sensor
  • Gyro Sensors on a Competition Robot


The VEX IQ Gyro Sensor is included in the VEX IQ Super Kit but it can also be purchased here.


Description of the Gyro Sensor

The Gyro Sensor can be used to keep the robot driving straight and also to make accurate turns. If you want a robot to drive to a location then turn around and return to the same spot, you will need to move straight for an accurate distance, turn exactly 180 degrees, then drive back straight for the same distance. A Gyro Sensor makes keeping straight and turning very accurate. 

This sensor measures its own rotation around an axis. Whenever this sensor is rotated in the direction indicated by the symbol on the top of it, it measures the angle of the turn. The returned measure is in degrees either clockwise or counterclockwise. As the curved arrow on the top of the sensor indicates, the values increase as the Gyro Sensor turns counterclockwise. The values decrease as it turns clockwise.  


How the Gyro Sensor Works

The Gyro Sensor only detects movements that are clockwise or counterclockwise on the axis indicated on the top of the sensor. So if the gyro is mounted horizontally in the center of the robot, it does not detect if the robot is tilted downward or upward on a slope as long as the gyro hasn’t turned clockwise or counterclockwise. It also does not detect if the robot is tilted or leaning on one side as long as it is still oriented forward. However, a Gyro Sensor can be mounted on a robot’s side or on a manipulator and that would allow it to measure tilt.  


Common Uses of the Gyro Sensor

Gyro sensors are integrated into many pieces of technology where knowing the orientation of a device or stabilizing an object are important.

Some common uses in daily life include:

  • Gyro sensors are integrated into small motorized vehicles that allow the person to control speed by leaning forward and backward, while also keeping the vehicle stable.
  • Gyro Sensors are used to stabilize large ships as well as monorail trains, in order to keep the people and cargo on them safe.
  • Gyro sensors are used to measure movement in some handheld electronic devices, such as video game remote controls.

Some common uses for a Gyro Sensor with a VEX IQ Robot include:

  • Detecting if the robot has turned left or right

  • Detecting whether the robot is tilting up or down by mounting it on the side of the robot

  • Maintaining straight driving
  • Making accurate turns

Gyro Sensors on a Competition Robot

The Gyro Sensor can be important for programming a robot for competitions. The gyro is especially important when programming for the autonomous period when the robot has to perform tasks without human input. 

The Gyro Sensor can make a competition robot better in the following ways:

  • The Gyro Sensor can detect which direction and how far the robot has turned from its starting point.
  • The Gyro Sensor can detect if the robot is tilting up or down by mounting it on the side of the robot.
  • The Gyro Sensor can be used to detect the status of one of the robot's components (e.g., arm up, arm down, etc) by mounting it on the manipulator or attachment.