October is already upon us, and it looks like we missed our own goal of releasing the 2012 University Rover Challenge rules in September. I
apologize for the delay - it is always a challenge for the URC judges and staff to respond to the impressive caliber of technology on display at the
previous URC, and this year is no exception. While the judges continue to work on the last small details with the URC 2012 rules, I can give you all a preview of what you can expect.
- We anticipate that URC 2012 will be held May 31-June 2, 2012, at the Mars Desert Research Station. I know that there is concern among some teams with the event ending late on the first Saturday in June. Unfortunately this is the only time frame that is realistic for the field of teams, the judges, and the staff. We will try to schedule events so that teams can depart earlier on June 2.
- Rules regarding weight, communications equipment, and financial limits will remain unchanged (although there will be a small change to how reused components are valued).
- Aerial vehicles will be required to carry dead weight - a design and performance penalty that will more accurately reflect the realities of flight on Mars. The judges are going through a very detailed analysis that will govern how much dead weight vehicles will be required to carry. This exact amount will be addressed when the rules are finalized.
- The Presentation Task, Sample Return Task, and Site Survey Task sections will be almost identical to the URC 2011 rules.
- The Astronaut Assistance Task will be *similar* to the URC 2011 rules, except that in 2012 some of the astronauts will be intentionally placed out of line-of-sight communications with the command tent (occluded by large terrain features).
- The Equipment Servicing Task will feature new manipulation requirements - the details will be announced soon.
Thank you all for your patience. I look forward to another exciting year of the University Rover Challenge!