Competition Schedule Posted

posted May 25, 2017, 10:37 PM by Kevin Sloan

The competition schedule, to include the detailed task schedule, has now been posted at the URC2017 Schedule page!  Please note that, while unlikely, the task schedule may change.  Other important notes:
  • Pay careful attention to the 900 MHz and 2.4 GHz sub-bands allocated to your stations throughout the event (if your team is operating in those frequency bands).
  • The time range listed for the Autonomous Traversal Task is approximate, and will vary depending upon the number of stages teams reach.  There are 3 stages total for this task.
  • Please note that for the Sample Cache Task, your team has two time slots.  The first is for your rover's on-course time.  The second is for your team's laboratory analysis and field briefing to the judges.
  • There are 4 sites where your team will compete:
    • Hab Site - Located at MDRS
    • South Site - Located approximately 1 km south of MDRS
    • North Site - Located approximately 1 km north of MDRS
    • Hanksville Town Building - Located in Hanksville

36 Teams Advance to URC2017 Finals

posted Mar 24, 2017, 6:38 AM by Kevin Sloan

The most competitive Critical Design Review in University Rover Challenge (URC) history has concluded with 36 teams from 7 countries being selected to compete June 1-3 at the Mars Desert Research Station.

A record 82 teams from 13 countries began the year trying to design and build the world's best astronaut-assisting Mars rover.  With most teams presenting highly advanced systems, judges were left with an incredibly difficult decision, and ultimately decided to expand the field of competitors from 30 to 36 teams.

Critical Design Review Packages Due March 3

posted Feb 8, 2017, 6:58 PM by Kevin Sloan

The requirements have been posted for Critical Design Review (CDR) Packages, which are due March 3, 2017.  At the outcome of this milestone, judges will select the top 30 teams who will be invited to attend the 2017 University Rover Challenge at the Mars Desert Research Station.

CDR instructions and requirements can be found at:

Protocase, Inc. Returns as URC Sponsor for 2017

posted Nov 21, 2016, 8:32 PM by Kevin Sloan

 is proud to be back as a major sponsor of The Mars Society’s world-renowned University Rover Challenge!
More than 8,000 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, you can harness our state-of-the-art manufacturing to have exactly what you need custom-fabricated from sheet metal.
URC 2017 Protocase Sponsorship
The Protocase Sponsorship will be similar to the sponsorship offered in 2016:
  • 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 $15,000 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.i.ii of the URC2017 Rules).
  • All teams will receive 50% discount on all custom parts manufactured beyond the $2,000 (USD) credit.
Check out our feature video, The Journey of the University Rover Challenge, which highlights the experience of teams who have worked with Protocase.

Learn more about our custom sheet metal fabrication.

How to Work With Us
Once a team is registered for the 2017 University Rover Challenge, a Protocase account manager will reach out to the team leader to make introductions and confirm contact information.
We will be holding a webinar in the coming weeks for all registered teams. This is an important step, as it will feature an overview of our manufacturing processes and important design guidelines for sheet metal fabrication. You can ask questions, as well.
Details on our webinar will be shared with all registered teams by URC staff within a few weeks.
We look forward to working with you all!

URC2017 Registration is Now Open!

posted Nov 6, 2016, 7:24 PM by Kevin Sloan

Teams have until December 2, 2016 to submit their registration for the 2017 University Rover Challenge.  The 2016 competition featured 63 teams from 12 countries... is your team ready to help us break that record?!  Visit the URC Team Info page for registration details!

Rules Released for 2017 University Rover Challenge

posted Sep 19, 2016, 4:15 AM by Kevin Sloan

The University Rover Challenge has officially released the competition rules for URC2017!  Student teams will spend the coming academic year designing and building the next generation of Mars rovers.  The field competition will take place June 1-3, 2017 at the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) near Hanksville, Utah.

Following the unprecedented growth and success of the event last year, the judges have made several updates and changes to the rules.  Due to the exceptional quality of teams and rovers, the 2017 competition will revert to a single-tier format with the elimination of the Semi-Finals.  New events have also been added, as the popular Terrain Traversing and Astronaut Assistance Tasks of past years have been combined into a single Extreme Retrieval and Delivery Task.  In the most exciting addition for 2017, the Autonomous Traversal Task will require teams to field autonomy on their rovers for the first time.

Teams are reminded that the Questions and Answers (Q&A) page is a living document that clarifies the rules, and will be enforced as part of the rules.  Teams may submit any questions throughout the year to Kevin Sloan, URC Director ( and Darrel Robertson, URC Associate Director for Requirements and Guidelines (

The University Rover Challenge is part of the Rover Challenge Series (RCS), powered by the Mars Society.  The RCS also includes the European Rover Challenge (ERC) and United Kingdom University Rover Challenge (UKURC) events.

URC2016 Crowns Back-to-Back Champions

posted Jun 5, 2016, 2:59 PM by Kevin Sloan

The 2016 University Rover Challenge concluded on Saturday (June 4th) at the Mars Society’s Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) in southern Utah as 28 rovers and more than 300 college students took on the harsh Mars-like terrain of this unique venue.  Following two rounds of competition and five different events over a three-day period, the Legendary Rover Team from Rzeszow University of Technology in Poland defended their title from 2015 with another amazing victory.

The podium was rounded out by the second place WSU Everett Engineering Club from Washington State University Everett and third place Continuum team from the University of Wroclaw in Poland.  The WSU team’s performance was particularly amazing in light of the fact that this was their first year attending this ambitious contest.  This year’s entire field of student participants was extremely well prepared and ready to compete.  While the nearly-flawless performance of the Legendary Rover Team separated them from the second place finisher by 82 points, second through ninth place were separated by only a mere 78 points.

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 63 teams from 12 countries took part in URC2016.  Following a rigorous two-stage down-select process 30 teams were invited to the field competition at MDRS.  28 teams from seven countries (both records for URC) arrived with their rovers ready for the exciting challenges in the Utah desert.

The tenth annual rendition of URC introduced an exciting new aspect to the competition with the inclusion of a Semi-Finals round on the first day.  Following this the top 14 teams advanced to the Ares Finals where they competed in four tasks that focused on their ability to traverse complex obstacles, perform various manipulation tasks and conduct planetary field science.  The remaining 14 teams advanced to the Phobos Finals, which featured two unique tasks that challenged the rovers’ systems.

The first ever Phobos Final was won by the Mars Rover Design Team (MRDT) from the Missouri University of Science & Technology.  Saturday evening featured a memorable closing event.  Teams were able to gather together, watch the final teams completing the Phobos Finals Obstacle Course Task in the shadow of MDRS, show off their own rovers and share stories from the competition.

URC judges were remarkably impressed by the exceptional level of both competition and comradery this year.  The students competing demonstrated that their combination of talent, passion and opportunity has the ability to deliver world class capabilities in one of the world’s most unforgiving environments.

The Rover Challenge Series continues this year with the inaugural United Kingdom University Rover Challenge (UKURC) taking place in July, followed by the third annual European Rover Challenge (ERC) in Poland this September.  

For more information, visit URC online at:, on Facebook (, and on Twitter (

First Day of Excitement Kicks Off 2016 University Rover Challenge

posted Jun 2, 2016, 5:30 PM by Kevin Sloan

The tenth annual rendition of the University Rover Challenge (URC) featured an exciting Semi-Finals round of competition on Thursday, June 2 at the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) in southern Utah.  The international robotics competition for college students, which is part of the Rover Challenge Series, features an elite field of teams vying to build the world’s best student-build Mars rover.

The Semi-Finals round of competition is a new feature for URC.  Teams were required to compete in a short 5 minute obstacle course that challenged their ability traverse complex obstacles, perform various manipulation tasks, and demonstrate their scientific knowledge.  The fast-paced action was exciting for students and judges, with teams each having 3 attempts at the course.

The top half of competing teams will advance to the Ares Finals over the next two days, where they will compete in four Mars exploration-focused tasks.  The remaining teams advance to the Phobos Finals, which features two unique tasks that will challenge the diverse systems.

Ares Finalists (Listed in order based on Semi-Finals points earned)

#1: Legendary Rover Team (84)

#2: WSU Everett Engineering Club (76)

#3: Michigan Mars Rover Team (76)

#4: #next team (73)

#5: Continuum (72)

#6: Cornell Mars Rover (67)

#7: Pharaohs (63)

#8: Project Pioneer (63)

#9: Queen’s Space Engineering Team (49)

#10: Raptors (49)

#11: Robotics for Space Exploration (48)

#12: RUDRA (48)

#13: Mars Rover Manipal (48)

#14: PCz Rover Team (48)

Phobos Finalists (Listed in order based on Semi-Finals points earned)

#1: Interplanetar (43)

#2: Yale Undergraduate Rover Association (43)

#3: Husky Robotics Team (43)

#4: Mars Rover Design Team (38)

#5: McGill Robotics (34)

#6: Project Scorpio (29)

#7: AIUB Robotic Crew (28)

#8: MAVRIC (23)

#9: SJSU Robotics (23)

#10: ROVATA (22)

#11: Titan Rover (18)

#12: SKA Robotics (4)

#13: Wisconsin Robotics (2)

#14: University of Saskatchewan Space Design Team (0)

IUT Mars Rover and KMC Robo Physicists also qualified to attend URC, but are unable to compete. 

The Ares and Phobos Finals will take place on Friday, June 3, and Saturday, June 4.  Updates are available at, on Facebook (, and on Twitter (

30 Student Teams Advance to 2016 University Rover Challenge Semi-Finals

posted Mar 21, 2016, 4:50 AM by Kevin Sloan

In December, 2015 a record 63 teams from 12 countries set out to design and build the world’s top Mars rover.  Now 30 teams have advanced past the Critical Design Review (CDR) stage of the University Rover Challenge and will compete in the field competition, being held June 2-4, 2016 at the Mars Society’s Mars Desert Research Station in southern Utah.

The 2016 rendition of this contest, URC2016, introduces the first ever Semi-Final round of competition.  On the first day, teams will race for the fastest time in a “short course” event that tests rovers’ maneuverability and dexterity in the Mars-like terrain of the Utah desert, in addition to the student team’s scientific knowledge.  The top 15 teams will advance to the Ares Finals and compete in a variety of tasks for the top overall spot.  The remaining teams will then advance to the Phobos Finals for an equally exciting competition.

During the CDR process a panel of judges reviewed technical reports and video submissions from each of the teams.  Judges were unanimously surprised at the extraordinary quality of teams and their rovers.  The students, who have devoted countless hours to their projects throughout the academic year, put their passion on full display in their submissions.  Due to the exceptional quality of rovers, the judges elected to expand the originally-planned 28 team field to 30 team.

The final field represents 7 countries:

United States

Cornell Mars Rover; Cornell University
Husky Robotics Team; University of Washington
Mars Rover Design Team; Missouri University of Science & Technology
MAVRIC; Iowa State University
Michigan Mars Rover Team; University of Michigan
Project Pioneer; Brigham Young University
SJSU Robotics; San Jose State University
Titan Rover; California State University, Fullerton
Wisconsin Robotics; University of Wisconsin-Madison
WSU Everett Engineering Club; Washington State University
Yale Undergraduate Rover Association; Yale University


AIUB Robotic Crew; American International University - Bangladesh (AIUB)
Interplanetar; Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology
IUT Mars Rover; Islamic University Of Technology (IUT)


McGill Robotics; McGill University
Queen's Space Engineering Team; Queen's University
Robotics for Space Exploration (RSX); University of Toronto
University of Saskatchewan Space Design Team; University of Saskatchewan


Pharaohs; Military Technical Collage


KMC Robo Physicists; University of Delhi
Mars Rover Manipal; Manipal University

Rudra; SRM University, Chennai


#next team; Bialystok University of Technology
Continuum; University of Wrocław
Legendary Rover Team; Rzeszow University of Technology
PCz Rover Team; Czestochowa University of Technology
Project Scorpio; Wrocław University of Technology
Raptors; Lodz University of Technology
SKA Robotics; Warsaw University of Technology

South Korea

ROVATA; Chungnam National University

For regular updates about the 2016 University Rover Challenge, please visit our Facebook page:

European Rover Challenge Registration Closes March 31

posted Mar 21, 2016, 4:49 AM by Kevin Sloan

Registration for the prestigious European Rover Challenge (ERC) is still open. The deadline for submitting applications closes in 10 days on March 31. This year for all participants the ERC organizers have prepared mentoring workshops (dedicated especially for rover team members), lectures with special guests, and science and technology exhibits which will promote commercialization of the space sector. ERC is the biggest space robotics event in Europe. Along with the University Rover Challenge and recently announced United Kingdom University Rover Challenge (UKURC), ERC is part of the Rover Challenge Series. For more details, please visit

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