Parallel Lifts vs Regular Lifts

Team 1437 – Patriot Robotics
Viewpoint School
Parallel Lifts vs. Regular Lifts
In addition to driving and picking up objects, one function that most VEX robots are capable of is
lifting. Every year, VEX produces a game that almost always allows a robot to gain points by lifting and
scoring certain objects. In this year’s game, Sack Attack, lifting is almost a necessity in order to score in
the trough and in the high goal. Keeping that in mind, having a good lift on your robot is one way to
make sure that you score a lot of points. Many robots often use either a standard lift or a parallel lift;
what separates a standard lift from a parallel lift is that a parallel lift is built with two parallel arms on
each side as opposed to just one arm. By being built this way, a parallel lift gains two main advantages
over a regular lift; it has a constant angle and better ways to counterbalance the arms.
On a parallel lift, the area where objects are collected is fixed in place at a constant angle while,
on a regular lift, the angle changes depending on the position of the arms. This advantage is actually
more important than it may initially seem. Sack Attack and other VEX games require robots to intake
and lift objects that are difficult to hold such as balls, barrels, and beanbags. Any bucket or holding
device for objects that is attached to a regular lift will always move at varying angles. By ensuring that
these objects are lifted at a constant angle, you minimize the risk of having the objects fall out or worse,
falling into the opposing team’s goal. As you can see below, a parallel lift would attach to a bucket at
two points which would prevent the bucket from pivoting and maintain a constant angle at any point
during the lift.
Another advantage to a parallel lift comes from how you can counterbalance it to be faster and
more efficient for competitions. On a standard lift, the only option for counterbalancing is to extend the
arms out the backside of the lift and connect it to the base of the lift with rubber bands. While this may
seem like a simple solution, it raises the potential problem of making your robot longer/wider than 18
inches. According to the VEX Robotics Competition rules, a robot must fit within a space of 18 inches by
18 inches and any robot that does not meet this requirement would be unable to compete. By having a
parallel lift, you can simply connect the upper and lower arms on each side with rubber bands to
accomplish the same counterbalancing effect without adding the risk of having your robot disqualified.