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2015 University Rover Challenge Rules Released

posted Sep 18, 2014, 5:45 AM by Kevin Sloan
The University Rover Challenge, the world's premiere robotics competition for college students, has formally kicked off its 2015 competition with the release of its rules.  Student teams will spend the coming academic year designing and building the next generation of Mars rovers.  They will converge on the the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) in remote southern Utah for a three day field competition May 28-30, 2015.
The 2015 rules introduce one of the biggest rule changes in the history of the competition, which is entering its 9th annual rendition.  Due to the overwhelming growth of the competition in recent years URC has introduced a competitive downselection process.  Detailed in Section 1.h of the rules, teams must declare their intent to compete by December 5, 2014, submit a Team Proposal no later than January 23, 2015, and go through a Critical Design Review by March 14, 2015.
For the rolling Team Proposal submission, URC judges will be assessing each team's overall level of readiness to undertake the competition.  This is intended to ensure that teams are organized, and have the team structure, resources, and a project plan that will enable success.
The Critical Design Review (CDR) will take a much more comprehensive look at the team's overall system design, and progress-to-date of the final system.  Judges will use the CDR to ensure that a high caliber field of teams and rovers make it to URC.  While judges are not announcing a fixed number of teams that will pass the CDR milestone, part of the process will ensure that the number of teams participating does not overwhelm the competition logistics and infrastructure.
Other significant changes for 2015 include: 
  • Rovers may now be repaired in the field during interventions. See section 2.h for more details.
  • Penalties are now a percentage of points scored, not a flat point value. This should help novice teams stay on the scoreboard, even if they have a few penalties, and will challenge veteran teams to improve reliability.
  • Antenna height is now limited to 3m.
  • The Presentation Task will now be a video submitted mid-May so will no longer be conducted in Hanksville. This will free up some time for both the teams and the judges during the field competition.
  • The Sample Return Task has a new emphasis on geology, not strictly the biological focus of past years.
  • The Terrain Traversing Task continues to increase in difficulty, and will stress the rovers' capabilities.
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 (kevin@marssociety.org) and Darrel Robertson, URC Associate Director for Requirements and Guidelines (drobertson@marssociety.org).