Missouri S&T team wins international Mars rover competition

Posted by
On June 4, 2017

Members of the Missouri S&T Mars Rover Design Team celebrate winning the international University Rover Challenge in June 2017 in Hanksville, Utah. (Photo via @URConMars)

The Missouri S&T Mars Rover Design Team has won the 2017 University Rover Challenge, an international design competition where teams showcase potential next-generation Mars rovers.

The team finished first among 35 collegiate teams at the University Rover Challenge (URC), held June 1-3 at the Mars Desert Research Station in Hanksville, Utah. The event is sponsored by the Mars Society. The URC is designed to demonstrate the fundamentals of remote robotic travel and task completion. The Utah desert is used for the annual competition because it resembles the rocky terrain of Mars.

The Mars Society announced S&T’s victory in a tweet on Saturday, June 2.

The Missouri S&T team competed against teams from around the world. Countries represented include Bangladesh, Canada, India, Poland and Turkey in addition to the United States.

At the three-day event, teams attempted to complete four challenges:

  • An astronaut assistance task, which requires teams to use the rover to collect lost tools left in the field and deliver them to multiple locations.
  • The equipment servicing challenge, which requires the rover to repair a mock equipment system. Tasks could include turning valves, pushing buttons and reading pressure gauges.
  • The sample return, which requires the rover to collect soil samples at selected sites in the field and use onboard instrumentation to perform a basic scientific evaluation to determine geological significance or determine the likelihood of biological life.
  • The autonomous travel challenge, in which rovers maneuver themselves through a variety of difficult terrains based on a given set of GPS coordinates. Obstacles can include soft sand, rough stones, rock and boulder fields, vertical drops, and steep slopes.

Missouri S&T’s Mars Rover, named Gryphon, was designed and built by the students. The team developed custom circuitry for the rover, machined the aluminum and carbon-fiber support structure, developed durable wheels for terrain mobility, and 3-D printed gears used in the rover.

Next stop: Maker Faire Kansas City

Members of the S&T Mars Rover Design Team also plan to participate in Maker Faire Kansas City, to be held June 24-25 At Union Station in Kansas City. Missouri S&T is a sponsor of that event.

The Mars Rover Design Team is one of 18 student-run teams in Missouri S&T’s Student Design and Experiential Learning Center (SDELC). The SDELC, housed in the Kummer Student Design Center, provides teams with computer design laboratories, a manufacturing shop, office space and logistical support. Design teams mirror small start-up companies that plan large-scale projects, organize into departments, raise funds, communicate their ideas and solve open-ended design challenges. Almost every team competes annually at an event against other collegiate teams from around the country and the world.

Follow the Missouri S&T Mars Rover Design Team on Facebook and Twitter.

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On June 4, 2017. Posted in Student Life

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7 thoughts on “Missouri S&T team wins international Mars rover competition”

  • Glenn Whiteman Brand '83 says:

    Every week I get told that the US is not turning out engineers and scientists anymore-to which I politely call BS on and call attention to our university and others that are turning out thousands of top quality graduates. This is another example and congrats to the team, also learning organizational and management skills that will be valuable in the workplace combined with technical know how, esp hands on experience.

  • Congratulations to the whole team for a great win! 🙂

  • Ken Rapplean says:

    Great news and congratulations to all students and support staff.
    A big atta boy and atta girl to all.
    Way to show good old American ingenuity to all countries and show them where Rolla is at.
    Ken Rapplean. Geo.E. 1974

  • Hardy Pottinger EE66 says:

    Way to go S&T! Glad to see the robotics tradition lives on.

  • Dhurgham Kadhim says:


  • David G Sizemore says:

    An outstanding team performance. That shows what a great school MO S&T is to all. And the tuition might well be called a bargain, even for out of state students!
    DGS, UMR 71′
    Academy of EECE 1992.