This is the Q&A for the UKURC and should be read together with the UKURC rules. The questions are divided into five sections:

  1. Competition Questions
  2. Rover Questions
  3. Mobility Task Questions
  4. Science Survey Task Questions
  5. Astronaut Assist Task Questions


Competition Questions

[0.Q] Can teams ask questions?

[0.A] Yes. Any answers given will be published here.


[1.Q] Are there videos of rovers or astronauts completing the tasks?

[1.A] The judges do not plan on making videos of the updated tasks or the infrastructure. However, many videos of past URC competitions are available online.


[2.Q] Will there be any help with visa procedures for international teams?

[2.A] There is no direct assistance with the visa process, although UKURC will provide a letter of support upon request. Early application is advised.


[3.Q] Do spare parts count in the budget? If components are delivered to us from abroad do we include the shipping and duty fee in the rover cost? Do we include taxes in the price of the rover? Different regions pay different taxes which puts regions with higher taxes at a financial disadvantage, with respect to the £10,000 budget cap.

[3.A] Spare parts count in the budget if fielded on the rover during a competition task.  Parts that are broken during the year, and not fielded on the rover, do not count against the budget limit. Teams should only plan on spare parts for the competition if they fit within the budget limit. Taxes, shipping and duty fees should be included in the cost of the rover. These are just some of many region-specific pricing factors such as raw materials, labor costs, and exchange rates. Few teams get close to fielding a £10’000 rover and we will review these rules if in future it does appear to become an important factor in the success of teams at UKURC.


[4.Q] Rule 7.a.v. says that if a part is purchased commercially the “as-bought” price may be used. Does that mean that if we buy a component at a discount, we only need record the price we paid for it?

[4.A] If you buy something new or used, at a discount or not, you can use the price you bought it at, provided that it is not a special price just for your team.  I.e if someone not on your team can buy it at the same price then it is a fair market price and you can use that price. Conversely if the seller is only offering it at that price to your team, then the price you are getting is below market price, and the difference is essentially a donation, so you need to report in your budget the price the seller would have sold it to someone else for.


[5.Q] Rule 7.a.i. says that volunteer labor does not need to be included in the £10’000 budget. If a company volunteers to machine components for us, or cuts custom PCBs we designed, do we only need to include the cost of the raw materials?

[5.A] We would consider this donated labor not volunteer labor. Volunteer labor applies to any work done by students or to others helping out with menial labor. I.e. if not not done by a student it should not make a significant contribution to the rover. While donations must be documented by the donor (rule 7.a.iii), we will allow teams to use in the budget the cheapest rate they can get the same service for with the donor or elsewhere.  If the company gives you free access to their machines, or you purchase your own machining equipment, and you do the machining etc yourselves, then you only need include the value of the raw materials.

(6.Q) Will the teams be expected to compete in conditions harsher than light rain or wet ground? Will it be possible for team members to actively shield the rover from rain during a task?

(6.A) There are obvious limits to the amount of rain an event like this will be able to handle, however we will only be able to ascertain that on the day of the event and only after consultation with the teams. As for “actively shielding”, this may prove very complex given that the rovers will be driven remotely, we may however be able to shield certain smaller areas of each task.

(7.Q) What are the time limits for each task?

(7.A) Currently we have the following times, but these may still be subject to change. The Astronaut Assist and Science Survey tasks will be 30 minutes in a single run. The Mobility Task will be 10 minutes long for each of its three runs.

Rover Questions

[1.Q] Is a magnetometer allowed for navigation? We designed our navigation system using a magnetometer, then realized the magnetic field on Mars is not sufficient to use on an actual Mars Rover.

[1.A] Even though they are not analogous to operations on Mars, it would be difficult for us to verify that teams aren’t using a digital compass or magnetometer.  Since it’s only a coarse backup navigation, passive magnetometers will be allowed.


[2.Q] We would like to deploy a communications module from the rover. We were wondering whether we would have to retrieve the module with the rover before the end of a task, or if we could just leave it there?

[2.A] To clarify rule 1.b.i anything deployed by the rover should be collected before returning to the start gate. If deployed objects are not collected you will forfeit the points for returning the rover to the start gate on time. This is usually only a small number of points (although usually easy to earn), so you will have to weigh the increased potential for completing a task against the risk of not being able to collect the objects you deploy.


[3.Q] Rule 2.e.ii mentions that the rover can be repaired on the field. Among the group of “spectators” following the rover on-site as it is operated, can they carry tools with them in case the rover needs any intervention?

[3.A] After careful consideration the judges have decided, for this year at least, to allow spectating team members to carry tools if they desire. If the control station radios out to request spectating team members act as runners that will also be allowed.


[4.Q] Would the rover be allowed to pull a UAV across the starting gate as a sort of trailer behind the rover? The two vehicles would be “tethered” to each other, but not to any external sources. Also, would this apparatus be considered a “single connected platform” as stated in Section 1.b.i?

[4.A] A system that has physical coupling via a tow-rope will be permitted as a single connected platform.


[5.Q] Is it permitted to mount a camera on the top of antenna and use it to facilitate controlling the rover instead of, or in addition to, steering the antenna?

[5.A] In short: no. Rule 2.d.i says teams may steer an antenna manually from inside the tent with NO visual feedback on position. The rules are written to imply that the rover is supposedly out of visual line of sight of the command station, otherwise the operators could simply look out a window of the command station, and we wouldn’t bother with blocking their view. Under this scenario a camera mounted on a pole would not help and would provide an unfair view of the field. However the rover may deploy a camera in the field as covered by rule 1.b and Rover Q&A 2 and 4 above.


[6.Q]  Can we include a microphone on the rover? Listening to rover’s sounds, not just relying on sensor data, during tasks is great help for operator to determine if everything is working correctly.

[6.A] Yes, microphones are permitted on board the rover.  However, teams will need to notify the judges prior to each task in which microphones are being used.  As in rule 1.d team members are not allowed to provide feedback to the operators and should take care not to do so. Judges will then monitor conversations that occur near the rover by both judges and spectators to ensure that no unintended information is provided to the team in the control station.

(7.Q) Is there a restriction to the number of people allowed to be in the command tent at one time?

(7.A) The command tents will not be very big, so we may have to limit the number of
people, however, we will try to accommodate the number of people you need to
drive the rover.

(8.Q) Is there going to be any ‘workshop space’ where teams could make modifications or repairs to their rover between tasks?

(8.A) There will be a tent where teams can make modifications.

Mobility Task Questions

No questions yet.


Science Survey Task Questions

[1.Q] If the same tool is used to collect multiple samples, will teams have to account for contamination (e.g. if there was life teams wouldn’t be able to say definitively that it came from Sample B since the tool also touched Sample A).

[1.A] As with all scientific analysis, teams must seek to minimize possible sources of contamination, yet understand and disclose possible sources when they do exist.


[2.Q] How many samples do we need to return, or is one enough?

[2.A] Teams will be judged on the quality of the science of the site and sample analysis and the ability to explain why they chose a sample, but one sample should be enough.

(3.Q) I understand that the competition will be held in a public park, so I was wondering what the depth of soil will be our rover will be allowed to collect and if there is any restriction on how we do this. For example, I am assuming that you do not want us drilling out holes all over the park to collect our soil sample.

(3.A) You are right in that you will not be able to drill holes into the grass areas!
However, we are endeavouring to build a small section where you will be able to
dig, but this will not be very deep.

(4.Q) How long is the presentation of the Science Survey Task supposed to be?

(4.A) It should be around 5 minutes.

Astronaut Assistance Task Questions

No questions yet.