The University Rover Challenge (URC) is a Mars Society-organized robotics competition for college students who design and build the next generation mars rovers that have the potential to work alongside human explorers in the field. Know More
The annual competition was held at the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS), Martian analog site, near Hanksville, Utah,USA. URC 2014, the eighth edition of the competition held during May 29 – 31, 2014 .This year the tasks were highly competitive than previous editions and the title was won by the first time consecutive champions from Poland, the Hyperion Team of Bialystok University of Technology, who finished with 368 points and a marginal difference of 26 points from the second positioned team. The year 2014 saw the highest ever number of registrants, 31 teams, representing different Universities across the US, India, Canada and Europe. The Team Rudra from SRM Institute of Science and Technology (formerly known as SRM University), India bagged the 5th position overall and 1st in Asia.
The entire team is highly grateful and thankful the Director, Engineering & Technology, Dr C.Muthamizhchelvan and SRM Management. As these developments and achievements of the team became reality only by the unstinted support, exceptional encouragement in all possible ways offered by our beloved Director (Engg & Tech) Dr C.Muthamizhchelvan and SRM Management.
The success of the competition is credited to all the team members including Karan Vaish, Karthikeyan Pasupatheeswaran, Dinesh Sutar, Mihir Shah, Triyambak Tripathy, Naren GK, Sudhanshu Shekhar, Burugu Raviteja, Sravya Chandrika Kulakarni, Varun Pant and Nikunj Panchal along with the guidance of the faculty Mentor/advisor Dr .A. Rathinam . ( https://www.facebook.com/rudraindiaURC)
The rover was judged under five competition tasks, the sample return task, astronaut assistance task, equipment servicing task, terrain traversing task and presentation task. The terrain traversing task proved to be the most exciting and challenging for most of the teams and judges alike. Rovers had to race across a variety of predefined terrain and pass through a series of six gates. Like all other teams, team SRM wasn't really successful in passing through all the gates but it surely did impress the judges by clearing 90˚ vertical drops of around 1 meter length and the foresight with which the rover was designed.
The team was highly acclaimed by the judges in the sample return task for their in-depth research and the analytical skills. The team calibrated their equipment using soil samples from extreme locations from India before travelling to the United States. The first time ever on-board techniques and the methodology employed in detecting the signs of life, the use of spectroscopic methods to detect extremophiles, seemed to have impressed the panel and awarded a perfect score of 100.
Teams were allowed to operate their rovers from designated command and control stations, where a team was involved with controlling the rover through wireless communications methods, as the rover runs in an MDRS field site located in the desert of southern Utah. The hand fabricated master PCB was highly acknowledged by the judges during the presentation task.
While the 50-kg Rudra seemed to have given the team an advantage in terms of its stability, power capacity and its terrain traversing abilities what it seemed to lack was the navigation ability on the rover. The team is currently recruiting students from various departments of SRM Institute of Science and Technology (formerly known as SRM University) for next year's competition.