Precautions and Safety Guidelines When Working with VEX GO and VEX IQ Robots

This article will cover the following precautions:

  • Pinch Points
  • Falling Objects
  • Sharp Edges
  • Electrical Components

Each of these precautions will have safety guidelines for:

  • Personal safety guidelines
  • Safety guidelines for working with your robot

Pinch Points

Pinch points occur whenever a moving object comes in contact with another object. This could be a wheel which is close to a chassis, an arm with a tower, two gears intermeshing, or any number of things involved with robotics.

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Personal safety guidelines regarding pinch points:

  • Tie back long hair.
  • Remove dangling jewelry, scarves, neckties, or other clothing and/or accessories which may fall into a pinch point.
  • Keep fingers away from any moving parts on your robot.
  • Use the Pin Tool to place a pin in a tight location rather than placing your fingers into the area.
  • Be cautious when assembling/disassembling Field Tiles and Perimeter Walls of the field for pinch points.
  • Seek immediate medical attention for any pinched areas.

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Pinch point safety guidelines for working with your robot:

  • Turn off your robot before handling it.
  • Stop your robot’s autonomous project from running before handling your robot.
  • Secure arms and other manipulatives when working around them by placing a shaft/pin or trig near the pivot point to stop them from moving (be sure to remove them before you operate your robot).
    • Shaft/pin: Often there is a hole aligned on the robot’s tower which will allow a shaft or pin to be inserted through the hole and into a hole on the arm or the arm’s gear, which will lock the arm in place.
    • Trig: Often it is possible to connect a piece of structural plastic between your robot's arm and its tower forming a rigid triangle locking the arm in place.
  • Slowly move all pivot points, wheels, sprockets, and gears to ensure there are no cables, rubber bands, electronics or plastic structures which will be caught by the motion, before powering up your robot.

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Falling Objects

Falling objects occur when an object’s support is removed. This could be things like a robot driving off a table or a parts bin being dropped.

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Personal safety guidelines regarding falling objects:

  • Wear closed-toe shoes when working around or operating robots.
  • Walk. Do not run.
  • Keep your work area neat and organized.
  • Seek immediate medical attention for injuries caused by falls or falling objects.

Falling objects safety guidelines for working with your robot:

  • Position your robot in the lowest possible state when working on it. If the robot needs to be an extended position to work on it, lay it down in a position which is least hazardous.
  • Run your robot on the floor or Playing Field, not on a table or counter.
  • Return extra parts to their storage area as soon as they are no longer needed.

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Sharp Edges

Sharp edges occur if a part breaks or cracks.

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Personal safety guidelines regarding sharp edges:

  • Be cautious for any sharp surfaces on the playing field and game elements. Be sure to report any of these immediately.
  • Seek immediate medical attention for any cut or scratch.

Sharp edges safety guidelines for working with your robot:

  • Check metal and plastic parts for points, burs, or cracks which may have occurred when manufacturing or shipping.
  • Inspect your robot frequently to make sure there are no broken or sharp parts.
  • Carefully replace any parts that have sharp edges immediately.

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Electrical Components

Most of the energy for your robot comes from its batteries. The batteries are very safe. However, if they become cracked or damaged then hazardous chemicals can leak out of them. If there is an electrical short that allows the two terminals of the battery to become directly connected, this can be a very dangerous situation and cause extreme heat. The most common cause of electrical shorts are breaks in the insulation of cables or metal debris getting into the Smart Ports of sensors, motors, and brains.

Using an incorrect battery charger can also damage a battery.

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Personal safety guidelines regarding Electrical Components:

  • Do not touch the two terminals of a battery at the same time with any part of your body.
  • If any part of your robot feels abnormally warm or hot to the touch, alert an adult immediately and move away from the robot.
  • Seek immediate medical attention for any burned skin.

Electrical Components safety guidelines for working with your robot:

  • Inspect your robot for any cracked or frayed cables before powering up and replace immediately if they are found.
  • Inspect all Smart Ports for debris or bent pins prior to plugging in a Smart Cable.
  • Place electrical tape over the terminals of batteries when they are in storage.
  • Use the appropriate battery chargers.
  • Inspect all batteries, sensors, motors, and the robot brain for defects and damage before using, if any are found, store in a safe location and recycle as soon as possible.

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This list of precautions and associated guidelines are not all inclusive of the safety issues associated with working on and competing with robots. They are intended to point out some of the more common safety concerns. Common sense and proper training are your best safeguards. Overall, have fun with your robot and be safe!