Registration Now Open for URC2018

posted Oct 2, 2017, 6:54 PM by Kevin Sloan

Registration for the 2018 University Rover Challenge is now open!  Teams have until November 3, 2017 to register.  Details can be found at the Team Info page.

2018 University Rover Challenge Rules Released

posted Sep 11, 2017, 7:31 PM by Kevin Sloan

The University Rover Challenge has officially released the rules for the 2018 competition!

Click here for the URC2018 Rules

Registration for the 2018 competition will open in late September, 2017, and will close on November 3, 2017. Similar to previous years, teams will participate in a competitive down-selection process. The major milestones have been renamed for 2018 to better emphasize their place in the design life cycle, including a Preliminary Design Review due on December 3, 2017.

The four competition tasks for 2018 are updated versions of the 2017 tasks: the Science Cache Task, Extreme Retrieval and Delivery Task, Equipment Servicing Task, and Autonomous Traversal Task. There are several small changes throughout the rules, so teams are encouraged to review the rules closely and not rely on knowledge of the 2017 rules!

With the earlier milestones for URC2018, prospective teams are encouraged to start work as soon as possible! Good luck to all of the teams!

URC Announcement Regarding Final Standings

posted Jun 20, 2017, 5:25 AM by Kevin Sloan

Immediately following the release of the final scores for the 2017 University Rover Challenge (URC2017), the judges were notified of a potential error in the points recorded for the Continuum team (Uniwersytet Wrocławski; Poland) on the Autonomous Traversal Task.  The judges awarded Continuum 70 points for successfully completing five gates; however, the team indicated that their rover had successfully reached the sixth gate during their allotted time.

An initial review of the judges’ field notes was consistent with the 70 points awarded, although in the days following URC2017 judges were able to locate video taken during Continuum’s performance on the Autonomous Traversal Task.  This video review confirmed that Continuum did successfully reach the sixth gate, and earned 85 points during this task.  As a result, Continuum’s total score changed to 336.3, which earns them the second place position at URC2017.

During this detailed review, judges noted the incredibly close margins between the second and fifth place teams (just 21 points of separation).  The URC judges are pleased to announce that they have expanded the podium for URC2017 to the top five teams.  The PCz Rover Team (Częstochowa University of Technology; Poland) finished in third place, BYU Mars Rover (Brigham Young University; USA) finished in fourth, and Raptors (Lodz University of Technology; Poland) finished in fifth place.  The Mars Rover Design Team (Missouri University of Science and Technology; USA) became the first American team to win the competition since 2010.

“On behalf of the University Rover Challenge, I first want to apologize to the teams impacted by this issue,” commented Kevin Sloan, URC Director.  “Our entire judging team takes the scoring process very seriously, however we allowed an inadvertent accounting error to occur which affected the final results.  We have already begun discussions on process changes which we can implement to mitigate similar issues from occurring in the future.”

It is the policy of URC that all judges’ decisions in the field are final.  This case was particularly unique in that the Continuum team was told in the field that they earned 85 points, but the final score only reflected 70 points.  The Continuum team’s attempt on the Autonomous Traversal Course took place in the middle of the final day of the competition, as judges balanced long and busy days with incredibly hot weather conditions.  URC2017 hosted a record 35 teams and more than 500 students.

Updated final scores for 2017 can be found at

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American Rover Earns World’s Top Mars Rover Title

posted Jun 4, 2017, 9:42 AM by Kevin Sloan   [ updated Jun 7, 2017, 1:14 PM ]

After three days of intense competition under the hot desert sun, the Mars Rover Design Team (MRDT) from the Missouri University of Science and Technology became the first team from the United States to win the University Rover Challenge (URC) since 2010. 35 rovers and more than 500 students from seven countries descended upon the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) in southern Utah for this annual competition which asks college students to design and build the world’s best Mars rover. 

Poland was represented on the podium for the 5th consecutive year, as the PCz Rover Team from the Częstochowa University of Technology won second place. Brigham Young University (BYU) from the United States earned the third position, marking the 6th time they have finished on 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 82 teams from 13 countries took part in URC2017. Following a rigorous two-stage down-selection process 36 teams were invited to the field competition at MDRS. 35 teams from seven countries arrived with their rovers ready for the exciting challenges in the Utah desert.

For its eleventh year URC introduced two new tasks: the Extreme Retrieval and Delivery Task, designed to support astronauts by delivering a variety of items across aggressive terrain; and the Autonomous Traversal Task, the first time that a fully autonomous capability has been required at URC. MRDT, in a display of exceptional engineering and execution, earned perfect scores in each event.

Other tasks included an Equipment Servicing Task in which teams were required to perform maintenance on notional field equipment that involved fine motor skills, and a Science Cache Task in which teams were required to search for signs of life in a method that is applicable to Mars exploration. The latter event is particularly unique in that teams of engineers work with their scientist counterparts to understand the unique requirements field science.

More than 1000 students were involved in URC projects at their local universities during the 2016-17 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 For more information, visit URC online at:, on Facebook (, and on Twitter (

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.

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