The world champion Mars Rover Design Team at Missouri S&T will defend its title this month in a competition designed to test the fundamentals of remote robotic travel and task completion using next-generation Mars rovers.
The University Rover Challenge, sponsored by the Mars Society, will take place May 31-June 2 at the Mars Desert Research Station in Hanksville, Utah. The Utah desert is used because it most accurately resembles the rocky terrain of Mars.
At the event, all 36 teams will attempt 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.
To qualify for the event, teams were required to submit a video presentation that explained the design and cost of their rover. They also had to submit a detailed final expense report.
Missouri S&T’s rover, named Atlas, is a student-designed and -built rover. The team developed custom circuitry for the vehicle, machined the aluminum and carbon-fiber support structure, developed durable wheels for terrain mobility, and 3-D printed gears used in the rover. For more information about the team, visit marsrover.mst.edu.
The Mars Rover Design Team is one of 20 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. For more information about the teams, visit design.mst.edu.
The following Missouri S&T students will travel to the competition:
Jonathan Boyson, a senior in aerospace and mechanical engineering from Grain Valley, Missouri
Sarah Dlouhy, a sophomore in computer engineering from Lincoln, Nebraska
Ian Konecnik, a sophomore in mechanical engineering from High Ridge, Missouri
Jacob Lipina, a junior in electrical engineering from St. Louis
Matthew Lowe, a sophomore in mechanical engineering from Katy, Texas
Nicole Moon, a senior in chemistry from St. Charles, Missouri
Chris Novatny, a senior in mechanical engineering from Ellisville, Missouri
Joseph Plunkett, a sophomore in mechanical engineering from Halfway, Missouri
Andrew Rausch, a junior in mechanical engineering from Monett, Missouri
Cameron Shilko, a senior in mechanical engineering from Smithville, Missouri
Nathan Skelton, a sophomore in computer science from St. Louis
Téa Thomas, a sophomore in business and management systems from Lee’s Summit, Missouri
Andrew Van Horn, a sophomore in electrical engineering from St. Louis
Dylan Yegge, a junior in mechanical engineering from Washington, Missouri.