University Rover Challenge

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The University Rover Challenge (URC) is an annual international competition hosted by the Mars Society for University and College students to complete a given scenario using a rover the team has built.

Location[edit]

The competition is held at the Mars Desert Research Station, outside Hanksville, Utah. The site was selected by the Mars Society for its geographic similarity to Mars - in addition to being a largely barren desert area, the soil in the area has a chemical composition nearly identical to Martian soil.

Dates and times[edit]

The first URC was held on Saturday June 2, 2007 at 7:00 AM MST. The second URC was held on June 5–7, 2008. beginning at 8:00 AM MST. The third URC was held May 28–30, 2009, beginning with an orientation at 11:00 AM MST beginning in the Whispering Sands motel parking lot.

Scenarios[edit]

The competition is run under the basic assumption that the rovers being designed are being designed as assistive rovers for a manned mission to mars, and as such, are allowed recharge times between events, and are allowed un-delayed radio communications with the team running the rover.

The most recent year's event also required that the propulsion and power systems of the rover be easily adaptable to Martian conditions, greatly limiting the practicality of using internal combustion engines at the competition.

2007[edit]

At the Mars Society's inaugural University Rover Challenge in 2007, in the often Mars-like desert of the American West, competing teams will remotely operate their rovers to deploy a radio repeater and survey a second area for possible signs of life.[1]

2008[edit]

At the 2nd event teams were given 4 tasks to complete in the hot desert. Those tasks were:

  • Emergency Navigation to find a lost astronaut given only last known GPS coordinates
  • Soil Characterization to find ph levels and other information about the soil
  • Construction to turn or touch 12 bolts on 2 panels at different angles
  • Geological Survey, just like in 2007 to look for possible signs of life

2009[edit]

The events for the third year were very similar to those of the previous year, and consisted of:

  • Emergency Navigation to find a lost astronaut given only last known GPS coordinates.
  • Remote Surveying to find the location of posts placed in the desert using the rover.
  • Construction to turn or touch 12 bolts on 2 panels at different angles.
  • Extremophile Search to find evidence of extremophiles in the desert.

2010[edit]

This year featured the largest pool of registered teams yet. The tasks were once again similar, but some now with added complexity:

  • Emergency Navigation to find a distressed astronaut and deliver a package
  • Equipment Servicing to read a list of step-by-step commands directing the rover to push buttons, flip switches and plug an electrical plugs into outlets in a predefined order.
  • Sample Return to search for a location in the area that exhibits signs of extremophiles, return the sample so that it can be analyzed at the base station.
  • Remote Surveying to find the location of posts placed in the desert using the rover.

Prizes[edit]

The winning team will receive transportation, lodging and admission for five individuals to present their rover at the Annual International Mars Society Convention, as well as cash prizes.

Teams and Results[edit]

2013[edit]

2012[edit]

2011[edit]

2010[edit]

Oregon State University Robotics Club's 2010 Mars Rover during the Sample Return mission at the 2010 University Rover Challenge. Oregon State University placed first with 315 out of 400 points.

2009[edit]

2008[edit]

York Mars Rover Team showing their rover during Science Rendezvous in 2008

2007[edit]

Both the Penn State and UCLA rover teams experienced technical difficulties that contributed to their low finishes. The Penn State team was forced to withdraw from competition due to the severity of their problems.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]