This week the Mars Society in the UK has launched the first ever UK rover challenge. The UK University Rover Challenge is a mirror of a successful event in the USA that has seen involvement in robotic rovers soar, with the US competition receiving over 60 entries from universities from all over the world – but never from the UK.
“I’d noticed that, and just thought with all the excellent things going on in UK universities it seemed like such a shame, and in establishing a chapter of the Mars Society in the UK we could do something about that” explains the chair of the Mars Society UK, and director of the UKURC, Rob Adlard.
Perhaps university students in the UK just felt that rovers on Mars was too far divorced from reality, their experience, and what may be required of them when they graduate? This was also something that troubled UKURC founder Rob
“The first European rover to be sent to Mars is being built and tested right now, right here in the UK by a UK company, how you have something more relevant than that? British engineers working on a rover that will land on Mars.”
Rob explains that the European Space Agency Exomars mission will take a European rover to Mars for the first time, and that Airbus Space and Defence is building it here in the UK at their Mars Yard. In addition to that, a perk of entering the competition will be a visit for the competing teams to the Airbus facility to have a presentation from the rover engineers on the Exomars rover, and find out more about what’s actually happening in the industry here in the UK.
Below: video from the US version of the competition
It’s exciting times for Mars exploration if you’re in the UK (or anywhere in Europe) so if you, or anyone you know are interested, we urge them to visit out website and enter. All you need are a few like-minded friends, and you’ll probably get support from your university. With the number of simple electronics platforms readily available now, you don’t even need specialist knowledge to get started, so get started today!