URC News

The Mars Society Welcomes MDA Space as Sponsor for 2024 University Rover Challenge (May 13, 2024)

The Mars Society is excited to welcome MDA Space as a sponsor of the 2024 University Rover Challenge.

Building the space between proven and possible, MDA Space is a trusted mission partner to the global space industry. A robotics, satellite systems and geointelligence pioneer with a 55-year+ story of world firsts and more than 450 missions, MDA Space is a global leader in communications satellites, Earth and space observation, and space exploration and infrastructure. The MDA Space team of more than 3,000 space experts in Canada, the US and the UK has the knowledge and know-how to turn an audacious customer vision into an achievable mission – bringing to bear a one-of-a-kind mix of experience, engineering excellence and wide-eyed wonder that’s been in our DNA since day one. For those who dream big and push boundaries on the ground and in the stars to change the world for the better, we’ll take you there. For more information, visit www.mda.space.

Astrolab Returns as a Sponsor of 2024 University Rover Challenge (May 8, 2024)

The Mars Society is excited to welcome Astrolab back as a sponsor of the 2024 University Rover Challenge!

Venturi Astrolab, Inc. (Astrolab) is on a mission to move humanity forward to the next horizon by designing, building, and operating a fleet of multi-purpose rovers for all planetary surface needs. Formed by a highly specialized team of NASA veterans, former SpaceXers and JPL engineers, Astrolab is laser-focused on providing adaptive mobility solutions essential for life beyond Earth. The team has industry leading experience in terrestrial and planetary robotics, electric vehicles, human spaceflight and more. Astrolab’s depth of experience and strategic partnerships with a wide array of world-class institutions, including electric vehicle pioneer Venturi Group, enables the delivery of Lunar and Mars mobility offerings at maximum reliability, flexibility and cost effectiveness. The company is headquartered in Hawthorne, California. For more information, visit astrolab.space and follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Instagram. 

38 Teams Advance to 2024 University Rover Challenge Finals!

After an incredibly competitive System Acceptance Review, a record 38 teams from 10 countries will compete at the URC2024 Finals, being held May 29 - June 1, 2024 at the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) in Utah!

102 teams began the year competing for a coveted invitation to the URC Finals. Teams submitted both written reports as well as video demonstrations of their rovers, which were scored by URC's panel of judges. Typically only the top 36 teams will qualify, however the incredibly competitive scores resulted in the judges expanding the field for two additional teams in 2024. The University Rover Challenge commends all of the participating teams for their hard work, dedication, and perseverance!

The 38 Finalists will now spend the next two and a half months refining their rovers and conducting advanced testing to prepare themselves for the field competition in one of the most extreme and Mars-like environments on Earth!

Video thanks to ProtoSpace Mfg!

The Mars Society Welcomes the Nissan Advanced Technology Center - Silicon Valley as Sponsor for 2024 University Rover Challenge (March 16, 2024)

The Mars Society is excited to welcome the Nissan Advanced Technology Center – Silicon Valley (NATC-SV) as a sponsor of the 2024 University Rover Challenge.

Based in Santa Clara, Calif., NATC-SV is the center of global excellence for Artificial Intelligence and next-generation mobility solutions at Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. Researchers and scientists at the center study all areas of automotive research, from the use of AI for developing new battery materials to the design of new systems on a chip for the next software defined vehicle. Specific areas of interest to this robotic challenge are the use of robotics and autonomy – combined with computer-, data- and social sciences – to improve mobility and invent real solutions for tomorrow.

“I’m thrilled that we’re sponsoring the Mars Society University Rover Challenge,” said Dr. Maarten Sierhuis, vice president and global director of the Nissan Advanced Technology Center – Silicon Valley. “It’s the kind of STEM event that brings together talented young STEM people from all over the world who are interested in space exploration. One reason we want to support this event is that we're always looking for great talent, and I want participants to feel welcome to reach out and become potential interns or even future hires.”

The long-term vision of Nissan’s Ambition 2030 program is to bring advanced driver-assistance and intelligence technologies to more customers. That includes the goal of expanding Nissan ProPILOT technology to over 2.5 million Nissan and INFINITI vehicles by fiscal year 2026. Nissan also aims to incorporate next-generation LIDAR systems on virtually every new model by fiscal year 2030.

Protocase Returns as Sponsor for 2024 University Rover Challenge Under New Aerospace Division ProtoSpace Mfg (November 7, 2023)

The Mars Society is proud to welcome Protocase back as a major sponsor of the world-renowned University Rover Challenge! This year will mark the first official sponsorship under Protocase’s new aerospace division, ProtoSpace Mfg.

ProtoSpace Mfg tackles long supplier lead times that have become the norm in the aerospace and defense industries. It harnesses the unique mass custom manufacturing system pioneered by Protocase to make custom parts and enclosures in 2-3 days, while also checking all of the boxes required in aerospace and defense, including AS9100, traceability and ITAR compliance. Same with Protocase, the ProtoSpace Mfg division never requires a minimum order.

“Teams can accelerate the development of their 2024 Mars Rover with ProtoSpace Mfg fast custom manufacturing, in the same way teams have been using Protocase for the past nine years,” says Allison MacDonald, Marketing Manager for ProtoSpace Mfg. “We look forward to giving students a professional experience that will save them immense amounts of time and energy, in exactly the same manner that our customers in aerospace and defense do every day to revolutionize the way they work.”

Instead of using critical design time and effort taking off-the-shelf enclosures, parts and components and modifying them to fit your Mars rover design, all teams registered in the 2024 University Rover Challenge can deploy ProtoSpace Mfg’s state-of-the-art manufacturing to get the exact parts they require.

URC2024 ProtoSpace Mfg Sponsorship

The ProtoSpace Mfg Sponsorship will be similar to the sponsorship offered in previous years:

Check out The Journey of the University Rover Challenge, which documents the experience of URC teams who worked with Protocase during previous installments of the University Rover Challenge.

How Teams Can Work With ProtoSpace Mfg

Once a team is registered for the 2024 University Rover Challenge, team leads or other team members can email info@protocase.com to be connected with their designated account manager.

To learn more about ProtoSpace Mfg custom sheet metal fabrication and CNC Machining, check out the company’s website, Proto Tech Tip videos and blog. Additional details regarding the Protocase manufacturing process and important design guidelines will be available to teams in the coming weeks.

ProtoSpace Mfg and URC will also be teaming up again to produce a webinar series featuring topics of interest and helpful educational topics related to URC! We strongly encourage teams sign-up for the following webinars before working with us:

Webinar #1 Creating a Manufacturable Design - Thursday, November 16th @ 2pm EST (https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/6831034181435273558)

Webinar #2 How to Quote and Order - Friday, November 17th @ 2pm EST (https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/8654911766171682904)

Webinar #3 – Understanding the DNA of a Project - Thursday, December 7th @ 2pm EST (https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/960073097669738841)

2024 University Rover Challenge Rules Released (September 24, 2023)

The University Rover Challenge is excited to announce the release of the rules for URC2024!

Click here for the URC2024 rules

Registration for the 2024 competition will open on October 1, 2023, and will close on October 25, 2023. All registered teams will be required to submit a Preliminary Design Review package by December 1, 2023, and a System Acceptance Review milestone will follow on March 1, 2024. The top 36 teams will be selected to compete in the 2024 University Rover Challenge Finals, held May 29 - June 1, 2024 at the renowned Mars Desert Research Station.

Teams and rovers will compete in 4 missions in 2024: the Science Mission, Delivery Mission, Equipment Servicing Mission, and Autonomous Navigation Mission.