The 2015 University Rover Challenge (URC) concluded Saturday at the Mars Desert Research Station in southern Utah with the excitement that accompanies more than 200 students and nearly two dozen rovers. After competing in four rover operations tasks and a presentation task, the podium was rounded out by two Polish teams and an American team. The prestigious URC title left in the hands of the Legendary Rover Team from Rzeszow University of Technology in Poland, who scored an impressive 460 points (out of 500).
BYU Mars Rover from Brigham Young University (USA) captured second place with 371 points, and Project Scorpio from Wroclaw University of Technology (Poland) finished in third place with 364 points. Polish and American teams captured the top six spots, and eight of the top ten.
Now in its ninth year, URC has seen tremendous growth in participation. A record 44 teams began this journey last December. After a two-stage down-selection process, 23 teams were invited to the URC Finals in Utah at the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS). Teams are tasked with designing and building the next generation of Mars Rovers that could one day support astronauts exploring the surface of Mars.
The Legendary Rover Team and BYU Mars Rover both got off to strong early starts, tying each other with a high score of 90 points on the always challenging Terrain Traversing Task. Although BYU Mars Rover and Project Scorpio continued to do well throughout URC, the Legendary Rover Team quickly pulled ahead of the entire field with remarkable performances on the Equipment Servicing Task (99 points) and Astronaut Assistance Task (80 points). Their perfect score of 100 at the Sample Return Task late Saturday afternoon only confirmed what seemed to be inevitable.
The defending champions, #next Team from Bialystok University of Technology (Poland), impressed judges with a perfect score in the Equipment Servicing Task on their way to a fourth place finish. The defending runners up, the Mars Rover Design Team from Missouri University of Science & Technology (USA) kept close behind, finishing in fifth place thanks to a perfect score on the Sample Return Task.
After three long days of intense competition in the field, the high point of the event came Saturday night during the final celebration. Teams all brought out their rovers and spent time sharing stories, and admiring one another’s work. An impromptu series of rover races highlighted the excitement and camaraderie of the event.
The final scores from the event can be found on the URC web site. Updates from the event are available on the official University Rover Challenge Facebook page, and complete photos and videos will be posted to http://urc.marssociety.org in the coming days.