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AGH Space Systems on the home straight before the URC

The rover Kalman driving on one of the AGH University campus’ inner roads. Behind it, there are 7 people, students, following it. One of the female students holds an AGH University flag in her hands.

Photo: source:

AGH Space Systems on the home straight before the URC

The AGH Space Systems team has had their final dry run out in the open field with Kalman. This is one of the key stages of their intense preparations for the finals of the most important international Martian rover competition, the University Rover Challenge (URC), which will take place at the turn of May and June in the desert in Utah (USA). The event is organised by The Mars Society, an organization supporting research, exploration, and colonisation of the Red Planet.

The final dry run before the competition took place in the Economic Activity Zone in Miękinia. The team prepared everything as if they were already travelling to the United States. The marketing and logistics section developed and coordinated the challenges, mirroring those awaiting the team during the actual competition: driving in difficult terrain, searching and moving objects, operating switches and tools, autonomous driving, extracting and analysing soil samples. Members of the team also played the role of the judges – knowing the jury’s criteria in awarding points, a knowledge acquired during their previous starts, they assessed each challenge accordingly. The dry run even provided for the real break lengths that occur during the actual competition. This is important, as each challenge requires the rover to be configured differently.

Photo: Miłosz Dubiel, KSAF AGH

A fragment of a table with laptops and computer screens thereon, on which the operator sees the view registered by Kalman’s cameras.

The AGH Space Systems team is happy with the results of the dry run summarises the preparations thus:

The time before the competition is extremely intense for us, and introducing improvements to the construction is not our only task. The experiences we have gathered over the last few years we’ve been using to improve our preparations, verifying the technical condition or even evaluating the way we pack the smallest parts of Kalman into the suitcases.’

What will the URC look like?

37 student teams, representing universities from the USA, Canada, Bangladesh, India, Australia, the Czech Republic, Mexico, Turkey, and Egypt, will compete in the desert in Utah, USA. Poland will be represented by as many as 5 teams: AGH University, Warsaw University of Technology, Kielce University of Technology, Czestochowa University of Technology, and Wrocław University of Science and Technology.

The rovers must meet all strictly defined technical criteria, including those related to their weight, size, and even the maximum cost allocated for their construction. The teams will compete in the following challenges:

  • Maintenance Mission – requiring high precision in operating a panel with the use of the robot’s arm
  • Navigation Mission – testing the rover’s capability to drive autonomously in unknown terrain
  • Delivery Mission – relying on driving through a difficult terrain and delivering the necessary equipment to an astronaut
  • Science Mission – testing the extracted soil for possible life forms.

Furthermore, the teams must give a presentation to a panel of strict judges – the experts of the trade. Each challenge scores points; however, there are also penalty points.

We can’t wait to compete! Keep your fingers crossed for us!’, say the students from the AGH University.