36 Teams Advance to URC2019 Finals

posted Mar 22, 2019, 5:10 AM by Kevin Sloan

After the most competitive System Acceptance Review (SAR) milestone in the competition's history, 36 teams from 10 countries have been selected as finalists to compete at the 2019 University Rover Challenge (URC), held May 30 - June 1 at the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) in Utah!

YouTube Video

In each of URC's 13 years, the student teams have continued to innovate and challenge each other to build the most advanced Mars rover possible. The SAR is a competitive milestone in which teams' scores are compared, and only the top 36 teams advance. In 2019 an astounding 53 teams scored above the qualification standard from the previous year.

Teams will now spend the next two and a half months refining their rovers and conducting advanced testing to prepare themselves for the field competition in one of the most extreme and Mars-like environments on Earth!

Announcing the URC2019 Webinar Series, Hosted by Protocase

posted Jan 14, 2019, 12:00 PM by Kevin Sloan   [ updated Feb 25, 2019, 9:16 AM ]

We are excited to announce a new webinar series for 2019, hosted by our good friends at Protocase! The series will kick off with 5 topics over the coming weeks, and we hope to offer more topics in the weeks and months to come.

Additional details for webinars will be updated for each of the sessions (they will not all be held at the same time). Teams will be required to register for each webinar; due to hosting constraints each team will only be able to join from one computer. Registration details will be sent directly to each Student Team Lead.

January 23, 11am MST (UTC-7) - Intro to Working with Protocase: How to Use Protocase’s Custom Manufacturing Services
An overview for teams who are taking advantage of the annual URC sponsorship offer from Protocase.

This webinar will explain our capabilities as a custom manufacturer of enclosures, parts and components for both sheet metal and CNC machining. Our priority is to make sure your orders are processed smoothly so that they can be built in 2-3 days, in order to give you as much time as possible to test your rover. We will also share some key design guidelines to keep in mind when designing and submitting your order. There will be an opportunity to ask questions at the end of the webinar.

January 30, 10am MST (UTC-7) - Project Management Essentials, Featuring Honeybee Robotics
David Smyth, the Director of Flight Software for Honeybee Robotics, will lead this webinar designed to help your team be successful by applying project management best practices throughout the system development life cycle. Learn how to use internal milestones to keep your team driven and on schedule, and how a rigorous testing and evaluation plan can be the key to your team's success. Leverage lessons learned from NASA and other space industry leaders to better understand system failures and how to mitigate their occurrence (or recurrence!).

February 8, 11am MST (UTC-7) - Preparing for the System Acceptance Review and Q&A Updates with URC Judges
Join URC judges for a discussion of the System Acceptance Review process. This is your opportunity to hear the judges discuss what they are looking for when evaluating reports and videos during this down-selection milestone. Judges will also be providing an update on key questions and answers that have been posted since the initial release of the URC2019 rules in September, 2018.

February 27, 11am MST (UTC-7) - The Importance of Failure Logging with Protocase & Honeybee Robotics
The desert of southern Utah is a challenging environment unlike any campus lab, and nothing experiences this lesson quite like a URC rover! In 2018 URC and Protocase worked closely with teams to document the highs and lows of system performance, documenting the most common failure modes from the competition. Join us for a discussion of the results so that your rover can be prepared long before it gets its first taste of the analog-Martian soil. This webinar will also cover lessons and best practices that your team can use to track issues through your project lifecycle to better prepare for competition.

Date TBD - Ask an Expert
Stay tuned for more details!

International Field of Teams Ready for URC2019

posted Nov 16, 2018, 4:45 AM by Kevin Sloan

84 teams of college students representing 13 countries are set to take on the 2019 University Rover Challenge.  Teams will spend the academic year designing and fabricating prototype next-generation rovers that could one day support astronauts on the surface of Mars.

The next major milestone for teams is the Preliminary Design Review, which requires teams to submit a report to judges by November 30.  A System Acceptance Review milestone in March will down-select to the top 36 teams who will compete from May 30 - June 1, 2019 at the Mars Desert Research Station in southern Utah.

The full list of URC2019 teams appears on the URC Team Info page.

Teams by Country
United States 31
India 12
Canada 11
Poland 11
Bangladesh 5
United Kingdom 3
Australia 2
Egypt 2
Mexico 2
Turkey 2
Colombia 1
Germany 1
Greece 1

Protocase Returns as Sponsor for 2019 University Rover Challenge

posted Oct 26, 2018, 3:06 AM by Kevin Sloan   [ updated Oct 29, 2018, 1:37 PM ]

The Mars Society is proud to welcome Protocase back as a major sponsor of the world-renowned University Rover Challenge!

More than 12,000 engineers and designers in science and innovation around the world depend on Protocase for custom-manufacturing electronic enclosures, sheet metal parts, machined parts and components in two to three days, with no minimum orders.

Instead of using critical design time and effort taking off-the-shelf enclosures, parts and components and modifying them fit your Mars Rover design, all teams registered in the 2019 University Rover Challenge can harness Protocase's state-of-the-art manufacturing to have exactly what they need custom fabricated.

URC2019 Protocase Sponsorship 

The Protocase Sponsorship will be similar to the sponsorship offered in previous years:
  • Each URC team will receive $2,000 (USD) credit towards custom parts manufactured by Protocase for its Mars rover.
    Note: This $2,000 (USD) credit will NOT count towards a team's $18,000 rover budget limit (the URC Director has made the first $2,000 in sponsorship from Protocase an exception from the budget limit as outlined by Section 1.d.iii of the URC2019 Rules).
  • All teams will receive 50% discount on all custom parts manufactured beyond the $2,000 (USD) credit.
Check out The Journey of the University Rover Challenge, which documents the experience of URC teams who worked with Protocase.

How Teams Can Work With Protocase

Once a team is registered for the 2019 University Rover Challenge, team leads or other team members can email info@protocase.com to be connected with their designated Protocase account manager.

Protocase will be holding a webinar in early 2019. This webinar is an important step for all teams, as it will feature an overview of Protocase's manufacturing processes and important design guidelines for sheet metal fabrication and CNC machining. There will be an opportunity to ask questions as well.

Details on the webinar will be shared with all registered teams by URC staff within a few weeks.

Registration Now Open for URC2019

posted Oct 2, 2018, 8:13 PM by Kevin Sloan

Registration for the 2019 University Rover Challenge is now open!  Teams have until November 2, 2018 to register.  Details can be found at the Team Info page.

2019 University Rover Challenge Rules Released

posted Sep 17, 2018, 6:06 PM by Kevin Sloan

The 2019 University Rover Challenge has officially begun with the release of the updated rules!

Registration for the 2019 competition will open in late September, 2018, and will close on November 2, 2018. All registered teams will be required to submit a Preliminary Design Review package by November 30, 2018, and a System Acceptance Review milestone will follow in March, 2019.  The top 36 teams will be selected to compete in the 2019 University Rover Challenge Finals, held May 30 - June 1, 2019 at the renowned Mars Desert Research Station.

Teams and rover will compete in 4 missions in 2019: the Science Mission, Extreme Retrieval and Delivery Mission, Equipment Servicing Mission, and Autonomous Traversal Mission.  Despite similarities to the 2018 competition, there are several small changes throughout the rules, so teams are encouraged to review the rules closely and not rely on knowledge of the 2018 rules!

With the early milestones for URC2019, prospective teams are encouraged to start work as soon as possible! Good luck to all of the teams!

University Rover Challenge Title Returns to Poland

posted Jun 3, 2018, 5:33 PM by Kevin Sloan

The University Rover Challenge (URC) awarded the title of World’s Top Mars Rover to the PCz Rover Team from the Czestochowa University of Technology in Poland on June 2.  The 2018 rendition of URC hosted 35 rovers and more than 500 students from ten countries at the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) in southern Utah.  URC is an annual competition which asks college students to design and build the world’s best Mars rover.

The defending champions from 2017, the Mars Rover Design Team from the Missouri University of Science & Technology in the United States, turned in an impressive performance, finishing in second place.  This marks the third time the team has finished on the podium at URC.  The IMPULS team from the Kielce University of Technology in Poland finished close behind in third place to round out the podium.

The international robotics competition for college students, which is part of the Mars Society’s Rover Challenge Series, featured an elite field of teams vying to build the world’s best student-designed Mars rover. A record 95 teams from 12 countries took part in URC2018. Following a rigorous two-stage down-selection process 36 teams were invited to the field competition at MDRS. 35 teams from ten countries arrived with their rovers ready for the exciting challenges in the Utah desert.

For its twelfth year URC continued the same tasks as in previous years (Sample Cache Task, Extreme Retrieval and Delivery Task, Equipment Servicing Task, and the Autonomous Traversal Task), but challenged teams with harder versions of several.  The most exciting task of 2018 proved to be the Equipment Servicing Task, which featured a custom lander designed and built by URC sponsor Protocase.  Teams and their rovers were required to load a canister into the lander, and conduct a series of complex procedures required to “launch” this lander from Mars back to Earth.

The PCz Rover Team capped their victory with a dramatic performance late Saturday on the Extreme Retrieval and Delivery Task, earning the only perfect score of the competition in that task.  During this task rovers were required to navigate across the arduous terrain surrounding MDRS to retrieve tools and deliver them to simulated astronauts in the field.  The last objective of the task required teams to ascend a steep and narrow ridgeline, bordered by harrowing drops on either side, to deliver a tool to the final astronaut.  This objective had already sent three previous teams either rolling or sliding off the side of the ridgeline to varying degrees of rover damage.  PCz’s unique frame began to slip as it neared the astronaut, but came to a rest with just inches to spare, allowing them to deploy the required tool and securing their championship performance.

More than 1000 students were involved in URC projects at their local universities during the 2017-18 academic year. The rovers they built reflected the dedication, passion, and ingenuity of the student teams, a point that was not lost on the judges and industry representatives attending the event.

The scores for all teams can be found at http://urc.marssociety.org/home/about-urc/urc2018-scores. For more information, visit URC online at: http://urc.marssociety.org, on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/universityroverchallenge), and on Twitter (https://twitter.com/URConMars).

Schedules, Scores, and the EST Preview

posted May 26, 2018, 2:22 PM by Kevin Sloan

A draft of the detailed task schedule for teams has now been posted to the URC2018 Schedule page.

The URC2018 Scores page has now been updated with the System Acceptance Review scores, the first 100 possible points of the competition!

Protocase and URC are excited to provide this sneak peak of the URC2018 Equipment Servicing Task:

URC2018 Equipment Servicing Task Preview

Announcing the URC Meet & Greet Hosted by Protocase, and Rover Rodeo

posted May 14, 2018, 7:34 PM by Kevin Sloan

We are excited to announce the URC Meet & Greet Hosted by Protocase, and Rover Rodeo, as part of URC2018!

Wednesday, May 30, 2018
  • 5:00pm - 8:00pm: URC Meet & Greet Hosted by Protocase at the Hanksville Emergency Services Building
  • 6:30pm - 8:00pm: URC Rover Rodeo at the Hanksville Arena - Open to the Public!!

URC Meet and Greet Hosted by Protocase
Please join URC and Protocase for a fun event to kick everything off on Wednesday, May 30, 5:00pm - 8:00pm, following the Check-In period.  Enjoy a BBQ provided by Duke's Slickrock & Grill, and meet with industry representatives from Honeybee Robotics and Microsoft (bring your resumes!).  This event will take place at the Hanksville Emergency Services building.

Rover Rodeo
Get ready for the competition, and get your rover's "shake-down" testing completed at this new and exciting event!  URC will be taking over the arena in Hanksville, located next to the Emergency Services building, and turning it over to the rovers.  The space will be available to teams to conduct testing starting at 4:00pm.  At 6:30pm we will begin a series of informal and fun races on a simple obstacle course.  Don't worry about any 1 meter drops here - the real rover-breaking competition starts the next day!

A few notes about the Rover Rodeo:
  • This is not a mandatory event, but will be a fun opportunity to ensure your rover is competition-ready.
  • This is a collaborative event.  Bring tools to share with other teams, and help everyone get their rovers ready!
  • URC will not be enforcing any communications restrictions, however United States Federal Communication Commission (FCC) regulations still apply.
  • This isn't a competition event, so tethered operations, or directly following your rover, are all allowed.
  • Teams will neither be penalized, nor receive any points, in the actual URC standings.
  • We will be opening this event to the public!

URC2018 Extreme Retrieval and Delivery Task - Course Posted

posted May 13, 2018, 9:16 PM by Kevin Sloan

The judges have released the course map and detailed instructions for the URC2018 Extreme Retrieval and Delivery Task:

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